Fall Social Media Trends in Canada

What Marketers can Learn from Canada's Distaste for the #PSL

In advance of any holiday season, brands should listen closely to their audiences to stay relevant, but they shouldn’t expect that everyone in their social audiences will care about the same topics or respond the same way to the same messaging. Marketers, for international brands especially, must pay attention to what different geographical segments of their audience care about the most – not just their audience’s interests as a whole. Paying attention to social media trends is the perfect place to start.

Here at Spredfast, we discovered that audiences from different geographic areas have very different interests, even when comparing citizens of neighboring countries. We chose to look to our northern neighbors in Canada to find out just how similar or different we are when it comes to fall trends. As it turns out, quite a bit: from pumpkin spice to emojis to Halloween costumes, Canadians have different preferences, meaning brands should approach their Canadian followers on social with unique messages.

Keep your pumpkin spice in the States

To start, we’ll pick a favorite (or least favorite, depending on who you ask) fall topic: pumpkin spice everything. If you’ve been plugged into social media at all over the past several years, you probably haven’t missed the influx of #PSL-tagged posts. Last year, people took to Instagram to post photos of their favorite pumpkin spice treats nearly 150 thousand times in October alone. To put things in perspective, pumpkin spice Instagram posts outnumbered posts from kids showing off their Halloween candy by 15 to 1.

Pumpkin spice Instagram posts outnumbered posts from kids showing off their Halloween candy by 15 to 1.


If your brand is looking for a popular fall-themed topic to post about, the pumpkin spice craze looks like a safe bet on the surface. But the truth is, the choice isn’t as simple as hopping on the bandwagon of any popular social trend. Maybe your brand’s audience hates pumpkin spice, or maybe posting about spiced lattes and muffins doesn’t really work with your brand voice. But there’s something else to take into account as well: geography.

Global mentions of #PumpkinSpice in October

Not only are conversations about pumpkin spice treats more common in the US than in Canada, mentions in Canada are much more likely to be negative. Whereas 62% of all pumpkin spice Facebook posts in the US are positive, only 36% of mentions from Canadians Facebook users are positive. Lesson learned: if your company wants to build brand love among a Canadian audience, you might not want to hop on the pumpkin spice wave in your social messaging this fall.

Why the intersection of multiple demographic characteristics matters

Marketers should look not only at how location impacts topics of interest, but how location impacts other demographic characteristics of who is talking about a particular topic. For example, the share of men using fall-themed emojis is greater in Canada (27%) than the US (20%). Conversely, American men are more likely than Canadian men to post about Halloween on Facebook.

So, why do these distinctions matter? Analyzing the intersection of how different types of people communicate and what they care most about helps predict how any target audience will respond to social messaging. Knowing that Canadian men are more prone to using emojis than American men could suggest to a marketer that if their target audience is primarily male, they may want to avoid using emojis directed at an American audience, but those same precautions might not be necessary with a Canadian audience.

Halloween trends in the US versus Canada

The differences between autumn conversations in the US versus Canada extend beyond pumpkin spice and emojis. As it turns out, your location can also predict what you will choose to be for Halloween. For instance, Pennywise (from Stephen King’s It) is a trending costume idea for both the US and Canada this year, but is much more popular in the US. Whereas searches for Pennywise costumes have risen 1,100% over the past month in the US, searches for the costume have risen by 550% in Canada. Pennywise is the most searched for Halloween costume in the US, but in Canada, Pickle Rick from the TV show Rick and Morty dominates costume searches.

While search trends can help your brand plan for what will be popular for an upcoming event or holiday like Halloween, social data can tell us what people from different regions actually wore. Nearly 100 thousand people posted photos tagged with #HalloweenCostume last October, and they proved that Canadians donned different costumes than Americans.

Looking at Halloween Instagram posts from the two largest cities in the US and Canada, we found that Canadians are more likely to dress as witches or Star Wars characters, while Americans were more likely to be Wonder Woman, the Joker, clowns, or pirates.

How data can shape your brand’s voice on social

Maybe your brand isn’t going to make any key decisions based on Halloween trends—or maybe you have nothing to say about a certain spice of a particular gourd—but if you’re using a social account to speak to your customers, you should be listening to what your audience is saying before you speak back to them. More importantly, you should work to understand all of the different cohorts within that audience and how their interests differ by geography, gender, and other demographic characteristics. The more you know about the audience, the better you’ll be able to target those cohorts with messages that matter most to them.

All this talk of coffee leave you thirsty for more unique data? Check out our latest Smart Social Report on the power of micro-influencers. We focus in on the beauty industry, but folks from any industry can learn from our takeaways and deep data dive.

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Justine Braun the Senior Analyst of Research & Insights at Spredfast. Her career began in Chicago studying social data from a psychological perspective. When she’s not buried in analysis, you can find her climbing, making ice cream, or rambling about female-fronted punk bands.