The sadness of the summer season winding down coupled with the excitement of a brand new school year has the emotions of parents, tweens and anyone in between running amuck. But even while consumers balance the last bit of beach time with a massive back-to-school shopping list, a huge opportunity emerges for brands. That’s because this year is shaping up to be the biggest ever, with consumers ready and willing to grease their credit cards to the tune of $7.6B more than they did last season. Not only this, but with a full quarter of shoppers proactively using social media to inform their purchase decisions, we’d go as far as to say that marketers that are not embracing social advertising may be at a disadvantage. So what’s an advertiser to do? Start by answering these 10 key questions:

  1. Which social channels are best for your creative type and business goals?

Each social network has its own culture, features and uses that are best suited for certain campaigns. For example, highly creative and beautiful imagery is perfect for Instagram’s highly visual, creative community. Twitter presents a perfect opportunity for seamlessly connecting TV and digital, Facebook has a reach that is simply unmatched by any other network and LinkedIn is king for catching up with career-minded college coeds.

  1. How will you use mobile?

Mobile will be a lynchpin for brands this year, as more than half of shoppers will be using their smartphones to help they make more informed decisions. In addition to standard mobile placements, think about newer more interactive options such as Facebook canvas ads and the Twitter Audience Platform.

  1. How will you appeal to parents?

When it comes to school shopping moms and dads have about as much in common as a teenager and a toddler. Moms mull over coupons and are drawn to creative that connects with them emotionally, while the majority dads dislike deals and rely heavily on public (and family) opinions. There’s one thing they have in common however, and that’s personalization—so make sure to set up distinct ad sets for each group.

  1. How will you target tweens?

Tweens may be spending a lot of time binge-watching Nickelodeon, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t chip in for their own school gear. In fact, pre-teens are predicted to spend at least $20 of their own money towards the cause with 39% shopping without parental supervision. Extraordinarily tech-savvy, Gen Zers are adept in online research and can appreciate a good deal.

  1. How will you connect with college kids?

While they may be in the best time of their lives, college kids aren’t exactly making the best money of their lives quite yet. As a result, about half of college students say student discounts are extremely influential to purchase decisions, so make sure you have plenty in your arsenal. This group is also chock-full of tech savvy titans, so make sure you double up on mobile devices. Lastly, prioritize dorm essentials like bottled water, cereal, clothing, personal care, batteries and other electronic accessories over anything else, as these are items are most likely to be (and stay) on top of their to do lists.

  1. What’s your campaign pacing strategy?

Many marketers are so busy with strategy and creative that they forget about a pacing strategy. In this case, we recommend “front-loading” your budget dollars leading up to the first day of classes. This way you get the most exposure during the most critical timeframe. Once the first day passes, there will undoubtedly be items forgotten, in which case keeping the campaign going for another 1-2 weeks is advisable to reach these shoppers as well. For bonus points, change your targeting to within school locations to hone in even more on students and parents.

  1. What are your competitors doing?

Important to any type of campaign, competitive intelligence is particularly essential for brands selling common items such as CPG products and electronics. Make sure you have access to the posts of the competition and the corresponding performance metrics to deduce what’s working that you may want to emulate, and what you may want to avoid to stand out.

  1. Are you set up to capture all your performance?

If you’re like more than 60% of marketers, you struggle with measuring performance across campaigns, channels and platforms. Make sure you have reporting with built-in cross-channel capabilities, and if you really want to impress your boss or client, make sure you can also track Dark Social. Why? Dark Social, or engagement stemming from users sharing links by copying and pasting URLs, accounts for 70% of activity stemming from your campaign. Engagement which by and large goes unattributed to your campaign, and could be the difference between being successful and not so much.

  1. How many marketing initiatives will you have?

All too often there’s a gap between how marketers plan their initiatives and how campaigns are set up. Whether it’s a regional sale, new product or branded entertainment promotion, consider organizing your campaigns by initiative for more intuitive tracking. Bonus points if all campaigns on all channels roll up to each business goal.

  1. How many creative combinations will you use?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned running billions of dollars worth of social campaigns, it’s that testing different creative combinations, from copy to calls to action is a must. In order to do this seamlessly, look for power features that allow social buyers to swap out creative components and view performance by ad set. Try refreshing creative roughly every 3 days for maximum testing and results.

The moral of the story? As the kids say, make sure your audience strategy, competitive intelligence and platform features are on fleek. For questions or more advice on how to get started with social advertising campaigns, send us a tweet (@Unified) or sign up for Unified updates here.


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