Let’s take a trip down memory lane. To a time when the feeling of brand new gel pens and the smell of crisp composition notebooks caused butterflies at the thought of starting a new grade. Or when choosing a new backpack to match the first week of back-to-school outfits was the most exciting part of the end of summer.
For millions of adolescents, this time is rapidly approaching. While most students don’t start school until the end of August, the beginning of the month is the most popular time for parents to start their shopping.
Back-to-school shopping rivals some of the top retail holidays in America, such as Black Friday. In fact, the National Retail Federation (NRF) estimates that parents will spend an astounding $54.5 billion, yes BILLION, on back-to-college shopping alone this year. If you combine that with spending on students K-12, BTS shopping totals at around $80.7 billion in 2019.
For brands looking to target students and their parents this season, social media and influencer marketing are sure ways to spread brand awareness, inject authenticity into your marketing strategy, and boost engagement online.
Here are six tips, as well as a few of our favorite influencers, that will help you craft a back-to-school campaign worthy of an A+.
Craft different messages to appeal to parents and students
The key to any successful marketing initiative is to know your audience. While the majority of back-to-school campaigns target mothers, believe it or not, dads spend $115 more on school shopping than moms. Don’t count out young consumers either. Kids under the age of 11 influence $1.2 trillion in spending each year. And Gen Zers are spending more of their own money on school supplies every year. Pre-teens will spend on average $26.40 while teenagers will spend about $36.71.
Keep these facts in mind when creating your marketing strategies. The key is to communicate with your audience in a way and on a platform that resonates with them the most. Which leads us to tip number two...
Leverage multiple social media channels
Don’t just stick to one social platform. Consumers use different platforms for different reasons when it comes to back-to-school planning.
47 million people, the majority being mothers, use Pinterest for BTS inspiration while 70 percent of millennial aged dads seek out parenting information online on Facebook and Google. On the other hand, Gen Zers consume short-form video content on YouTube, Instagram (Stories and IGTV), and TikTok to research back-to-school hacks and recommendations. Facebook Ads allow brands to create targeted ads on Facebook, Instagram and stories. And Google Ads allow brands to target different markets on display ads as well as YouTube PreRolls. Use these features to your advantage.
Additionally, most influencers utilize two or more social media platforms regularly. Adding cross channel promotion in your collaboration terms with influencers will allow you to target multiple demographics with less effort. For example, if someone is creating a YouTube video, ask for them to post a clip on Instagram or TikTok. Or if an influencer is writing a blog post, ask them to Pin it on Pinterest and post it on Facebook. Most of the time, influencers are happy to do this for free. However, some may ask for a small fee so be sure to negotiate expectations in your initial approach.
Use video to highlight the shopping experience
There’s nothing like the excitement of stocking up on new clothes, fresh notebooks, and color coded agendas. Add an authentic touch to your marketing campaigns by enlisting influencers to highlight the back-to-school shopping experience as a whole. This could be in the form of a shopping vlog and haul on YouTube or a series of “what’s in my backpack” Instagram Stories.
Take it a step further by enlisting high performing influencers to takeover your brand’s Instagram Stories to boost engagement and followers.
Tell a story through long-form content
For many, the transition to a new school from junior high to high school or high school to college can be a trying time. Gen Zers go to the internet to get back-to-school advice from their peers. That said, influencers' blogs or YouTube videos can be used to share your brand story in a relatable way.
For example, an influencer can share their first week of school outfits, or a “storytime” video about how they got through their first year of high school. This type of content generates huge amounts of engagement and allows brands to get in front of a tuned-in audience. This influencer created a video, sponsored by Amazon, showing how students like her can purchase everything they need for the school year from the online retailer.
Engage younger audiences IRL with sponsored events
Nearly one-third of the back-to-school purchases will be made online. However, the majority, 56 percent to be exact, of BTS budgets will be spent in store. If your brand is sold in traditional brick and mortar stores, setting up meet and greets with local influencers will encourage young consumers (as well as their parent’s wallets) to come to your retail location. Influencers can also promote in-store only promotions, giving back-to-school goers even more incentive to shop ‘till they drop.
Tie in your promotions
51 percent of BTS purchase are influenced by sales. Luckily, influencer marketing is much more cost-effective than traditional forms of advertisements such as commercials, which cost upwards of $115,000 for 30-second slots.
Make sure that the influencers you’re working with are well versed on the sales that you are offering so that they can share them with their followers. Include specific call-to-actions in your collaborations guidelines and utilize features like Instagram Story swipe up or YouTube video description boxes so that influencers can include links in their content that lead students directly to your website.
A few of our favorite influencers for BTS season
Jorji Gardiner - 38k followers
Meet NYU business student, Jorji. Her lifestyle content on Instagram features everything from her fashion choices to meal prep ideas.
- Engagement rate: 6.2%
- Most mentioned brand: Nike
Avrey Ovard - 877k subscribers
Utah based high school student, Avrey, takes to YouTube to talk to her peers about how she finished school early and how she plans to transition into life as a graduate.
- Engagement rate: 17.0%
- Most mentioned brands: Wildflower Cases, Dote Shopping
Evan Andrew - 19.9k followers
Evan, also known as @sweetlifeofevan is a recent high school graduate who shares his travel, fashion, and lifestyle images with his followers. He will be attending college in the fall.
- Engagement rate: 3.4%
- Most mentioned brands: Fossil, PotteryBarn, Abercrombie and Fitch
Just Destiny - 26.8k followers
Instagrrammer and blogger, Destiny, has three children ranging from grades fourth to seventh. She loves to share her parenting tips on her blog which got more than 15k views last month.
- Engagement rate: 1.5%
- Most mentioned brands: Liketoknow.it, Michael’s Stores, Home Depot
Lauren Webb - 86.7k followers
San Francisco based mother, Lauren, shares high quality Instagram content featuring her husband and kindergarten aged children.
- Engagement rate: 3.3%
- Most mentioned brands: Beau Hudson, Liketoknow.it, ViciDolls