The complete guide to creating a Black Friday social media strategy

Black Friday is around the corner. Brands are gearing up for the infamous day that they’ll go from operating in the red to black (if you didn’t know—that’s how the day got its name). Since its inception, social media has played a significant role in Black Friday advertising. In this post, we’ll explore how you can win this year with a killer Black Friday social media marketing strategy.

Plan ahead

This year alone, 51% of retailers plan to spend the same amount on their ad spend, while 48% plan to increase their spend. In fact, digital ad spend is expected to exceed 23 billion dollars this year from Black Friday to Cyber Monday.

First things first, you need to plan ahead. Now is the time to get your creative in order, take stock of what’s been successful for you this year (metrics-wise), and think about how you’re going to stand out in a swarm of other Black Friday ads.

Encourage opt-ins and new followers

You can get going now with your strategy by engaging with new potential followers and email subscribers. You might use an early-bird special to entice users to follow a social account, or to opt in to your email newsletter for a special sale that will be sent out on Black Friday.

A/B test different creative strategies

Another advantage to preparing your Black Friday strategies early is that you can A/B test your different creative options. Maybe you decide to create a video ad and a version of the ad with just copy and a picture.

You can run both and see which performs best. That way, when it comes time to ramp up ad-spend, you’re going with the creative that’ll bring the most ROI.

Prepare your profiles

One of the first things you need to do is get your profiles ready to convert viewers and followers into buyers and evangelists.

People will notice your profile photos (both headers and profile pics) first. So, take advantage of that by creating an image that creates urgency around your Black Friday plans.

You should add links in your profile bios (Instagram, Twitter) or in the about sections (Facebook, LinkedIn) to your Black Friday promos.

Another thing you should do is make sure all of the links in your profiles that go to your sales pages, promos, etc. are in working order. You don’t want people clicking over from your social profiles to hit error pages.

You can pin a Tweet, Facebook post, and Pinterest post to the top of your profile. Make this pin the best promotion you’re running.

Automate elements of your social strategy

To get the most out of the holiday season, you’ll need to have plenty of content scheduled to keep your followers engaged.

A sure-fire strategy for increasing engagement is to use a social media management tool, like Sprout. Not only can you schedule ample posts ahead of time, but you’ll also be able to:

  • Post at the best time of day
  • Track the performance of different post types (i.e. Does video perform better than a blog post?)
  • Post to all of your social networks so you don’t miss customers on any channel
  • Optimize based on metrics and analytics

sprout listening report

Create different promotions for different audience types

If you serve one specific, hyper-niche audience, then skip down to the next section. But, if you have several Facebook Audience types or if you have segmented email marketing lists—you should create different Black Friday social promotions for those market segments.

For example, my good friend runs a gender-neutral barber salon. She runs two different Black Friday specials—one for long hair, another for short hair. She could also segment her campaigns according to shop location (i.e. Bushwick vs. East Village in NYC).

Stand out from the rest

One of the trickiest parts of a successful Black Friday social media strategy will be for your brand to stand out in the sea of other brands clambering for buyer attention. Facebook alone saw a 17% increase in ad spend during the last Black Friday season.

Let’s take a look at some examples of brands standing out and crushing their Black Friday social goals.

1. R.E.I.

R.E.I. (Recreational Equipment Inc.) is an outdoors and sporting goods retailer. Their brand is all about encouraging folks to get outside and enjoy the outdoors.

For their 2017 Black Friday campaign, they went against the grain and encouraged people to opt-out of Black Friday, and instead, head outdoors. This campaign wasn’t designed to drive Black Friday sales, but instead, to drive sales year-round by increasing brand awareness.

Their posts had a branded hashtag and content like this:

REI example

What’s great about this post?

  • They’re using a branded hashtag, which encourages their followers to share posts with the same tag—thereby increasing brand visibility and likely increasing Black Friday sales.
  • They’re driving traffic to a Huffington Post article about the campaign. This is great because it builds authority and trust (since they’re so prominent that HuffPost is writing about them). Plus, it seems less like an ad and more like sharing a proud moment for the company.
  • The featured text in the post is excellent and statistic-rich. Look at that line, “our kids spend less time outdoors than prison inmates.” Adding a bit of shock and wow factor into the text never hurts a campaign.

2. Patagonia

Patagonia, another outdoor’s brand crushed their goals last Black Friday by going against the norm as well. Patagonia decided to give 100% of their Black Friday earnings to environmental causes. They ended up doing $10MM in sales with this campaign:

Patagonia example

What’s great about this post?

  • Supporting a cause is one of the best things you can do to build trust with your follower base – particularly with millennials as 90% of them prefer brands that support causes vs. brands that don’t.
  • Text on an image is a great way to capture viewers as they scroll and swipe. When you see this ad, you can read it in less than a second or two.
  • Again, they’re using a popular hashtag #LoveOurPlanet which increases viewership and drives engagement. Try using RiteTag to find great hashtags for your brand or industry.

3. Chubbies

Chubbies sells loungewear and shorts for men. Their ethos is one of humor, as you can see from this screenshot of their homepage:

Chubbies homepage

As you can probably guess, for Black Friday, they went with humor. They launched a series of ads along with hourly giveaways:

Chubbies example

What’s great about this ad?

  • Humor works. This ad grabs attention right away with two guys sitting in their underwear in the middle of what appears to be a bar.
  • The ad is a video. Video has grown immensely in popularity, especially with ads. It’s a great way to grab a user’s attention as the video starts to play when a user scrolls past it.
  • They’re using a custom domain for the giveaway. This is a great idea for several reasons. First, they’re directing traffic (likely high amounts of traffic) to a new site, thereby avoiding a crash of their current site. Next, they’ve branded that domain, and it’s an easy title to remember. When users search that title, their domain will be the first search result.

4. Cards Against Humanity

Cards Against Humanity is a party game where players fill-in-the-blank with playing cards. The statements the cards create are politically incorrect, offensive, vulgar, or all three. For Black Friday, they decided to play on their sarcastic and politically incorrect style by increasing their prices:

cards against humanity example

Why does this campaign work? 

• It’s true to their brand—sarcastic, crude, vain—and customers thought it was hilarious because they shared it tons of times on social channels and it was the top post on Reddit.

• Like the other brands we’ve mentioned, they’re going against the typical Black Friday norms. This is literally the opposite of a sale, which immediately grabs a prospect’s attention.

Get your creative right

As you can see in the campaigns above, companies that are successful with digital advertising have developed a brand voice, which includes a sense of who they are as a company, and what they represent. For example, since Patagonia is an eco-friendly company, so was their campaign.

What do you stand for?

First, you need to understand what you stand for as a company. What’s your company’s mission? This should be bigger than just, “selling the best XYZ.” This mission should serve humans. Whether you’re going to help the environment, or go against the grain and create a sardonic card game whose mission is, “anti-mission” — you need a strong sense of your brand.

How does your mission impact your creative?

After you know what you stand for, think about how that influences your creative? For example, since Cards Against Humanity is anti-mission, with a sarcastic brand voice, they used those traits in their creative.

The words are anti-poetic. It’s straight to the point, blunt, almost harsh. The design looks anti-design. Like something I could’ve made in Paint when I was 13. And that’s why that ad is amazing – all the elements perfectly embody the goals of the brand.

You’ll need more than one version of creative

You might be familiar with A/B testing different web pages, different versions of sales copy, or email templates. But when it comes to ad creative, not only do you need multiple versions for A/B testing, but you also need multiple versions because your ads will go “stale.”

If you’re using a hyper-defined audience, then you’re likely going to “overexpose” them to certain ad sets. Your audience literally gets tired of seeing the same ads, and so, they stop clicking. You can detect this by noticing a drop in your click-through and engagement rates. If your CTR and engagement are initially pretty high, then suddenly drop, it’s time for fresh creative.

Make sure you’ve got more than one version of the design (even if both ads are similar colors, etc.). Make sure you’ve also go multiple versions of copy. Social media platforms will automatically run tests of the different versions of your ad, but be prepared to replace the best version when you start to notice a drop in engagement/CTR. This is especially important during the Black Friday & holiday season when frequent online shoppers are getting targeted by plenty of ads.

Schedule your organic content

You need to spend your time on optimizing ROI and other strategies and tactics — not on manually posting to Twitter, Facebook, and your other channels several times per day.

Take advantage of a free trial with Sprout, so that you can put all your other posting on autopilot, and concentrate on ROI. Start by signing up here.

Then, plan out your Black Friday content in the scheduling tool.

sprout compose view

A great feature of Sprout’s publishing tools is that you’ll be able to quickly reshare your most popular posts and content. This makes it easy to keep your social media pipeline full of quality content that drives engagement from your follower base.

You can also get valuable reports on your organic social media progress. From these insights, you can make changes and tweaks to improve the performance of your organic posts. For example, you’ll be able to improve hashtag performance on Instagram with Sprout’s hashtag report.

Instagram hashtag performance

Don’t forget Cyber Monday

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention how Cyber Monday is almost as big of a draw for customers as Black Friday.

  • Between 2016 and 2017, Cyber Monday spend increased over a billion dollars.
  • In 2017, mobile shopping had it’s first 2 billion dollar spend on Cyber Monday.
  • Overall, 2017 Thanksgiving weekend saw a 10% increase in online shopping.

So, make sure you add some Cyber Monday deals and promotions to your social media mix. Take advantage of this huge increase in online shopping by setting up conversion ads that get users over to your product sales pages in one click.

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