A Back-to-School Content Checklist

For most families, the school year has just wrapped up and kids are kicking off summer vacation. If you work in social media though, there’s not much time to rest. Back-to-school is just around the corner and many brands are already planning. As the second biggest consumer-spending period to the winter holidays, it’s not too early!

As social conversations from last year show, shortly after Independence Day, the conversation about back-to-school starts to take off. Will your brand be ready?

Here’s a checklist of 6 tips to help you develop smarter content this fall:

1) Start with your audience. 

Focus on your target customer. Who are they? Where do they spend time online? What insights will you need to build a robust content plan? If you are trying to reach Millennial Moms, what kind of content resonates? Attention is a scarce resource, so start by knowing what will connect with your primary audience and develop your plan based on real data.

2) Look back. 

Next, take time to review your previous initiatives. What worked? What didn’t? If possible, compare your campaign across networks, content themes, and intended actions. Review your competition and analyze their audience. What did their fans or followers engage with most? What were the big conversation topics during last year’s back-to-school? Where did your brand fit? 

For example, brands like Target and Great Clips focused on “giving back” content in 2014. Instead of a direct offer, they created content that emphasized their social responsibility.




3) Look at now. 

Digging deeper into your audience insights, what are your consumers talking about right now? Who are your most influential followers and what are they talking about? Use these top-of-mind topics to kick off your brainstorming efforts so you can build a more relevant campaign.

For example, “Elementary School”, #freshmanadvice, and #thanksabillion are among the top trends in conversations that followers of @Target are having about school over the past month. #thanksabillion is a campaign Target used to honor great teachers that obviously resonated with its audience, Target may want to continue that theme during Back-to-School season. Target may also want to run separate BTS campaigns which speak to elementary school supplies and dorm room essentials to touch on two resonant topics.  

4) Develop your story. 

When I was working in the agency world, one of our clients, a large CPG brand, looked at the biggest challenges their target audience (Moms) face during back-to-school. They used this insight to develop a content program that was about being helpful and empathetic. Each day, the brand shared tips, encouragement, and humor to connect with Moms. The story was about being there for Mom during a crazy season. The results? Lots of #LOLs and more importantly brand affinity and increased awareness.

What is your story? Consider creating an arc that ties the content together. As people see multiple posts or Tweets, they begin to anticipate the next chapter and pay more attention. Look at Red Bull’s Instagram feed. Each post has an adventure. They create excitement and bring you along for the ride.



5) Where will you play? 

While developing this plan, link arms with your internal partners in digital, promotions, and customer care. Make an integrated plan that will hit your audience across all channels.

At the same time, be brave in your approach. Maybe you will stand out more with Millennial Moms by focusing heavily on Instagram. Decide where to tell your story. 

6) Don’t forget about engagement.

When the campaign finally goes live and customers start engaging, what is your plan to connect? Will you activate influencers? What about real-time responses? Bring your community management team in early on in the planning process to think of ways they can support or enhance the campaign.

Tap into the social buzz surrounding your brand or products like Foot Locker did. Leverage UGC to create social proof right next to your products.

Troubleshoot problems before they arise. What will you do if your website goes down? How will you respond if customers can’t find an item in stores?

Before you head to the beach or the hills, get some planning out of the way. If you need help digging into the data, past or present, Intelligence quickly uncovers actionable insights you can use to make smarter marketing decisions so you can make the most of your summer break!  

Tim Bursch's picture

Tim Bursch

Tim Bursch is the Minneapolis Market Director at Spredfast. When he’s not tweeting, blogging, or strategizing, Tim spends time with his wife and 3 kids, all of whom enjoy cooking great food or scoping out the next great restaurant in Minneapolis. He’s also really good at drinking coffee and reading lots of books.