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How To Use Seasonal Trends and Events to Drive Your Content Strategy

7 Steps to Guide Your Seasonal Content Marketing

Silverback Strategies

Social platform algorithms continue to evolve, favoring high-quality content that drives meaningful engagement.

“Nothing you see (in the newsfeed),” notes Christine Warner at Skyword.com, “is an accident.”

In other words, great content has the best chance of surfacing.

The rest — it basically disappears. A 2016 Moz study of 1 million pieces of content showed that over 75 percent of content analyzed received no social shares at all. None.

Search is no different. Google (and other search engines) settles for nothing less than superior content.

“Google’s main goal as a search engine has always to display the highest quality results at the top,” says Silverback Strategies’ VP, SEO Kurt Lambert. “While a website with awesome UX and a solid technical foundation are major parts of what Google would deem ‘high quality,’ well-written and informative content has always been at the backbone of the optimization process.”

Timing is Everything: Digital Content + Seasonal Trends

Seasonal trends provide retailers with an opportunity to harvest a moment-in-time to create brand awareness and drive leads that can be nurtured into sales. 

Audiences that may never have interacted with a particular retailer can be opened to remarketing opportunities and transformed from prospect to customer simply by Liking an eye-catching social asset that captures a particular mood at the perfect time.

Let’s consider the types of seasonal trends.

  • Standard Trends: Standard (annual) seasonal trends repeat every year. It’s easy to anticipate these moments-in-time — plan ahead and incorporate them into your editorial strategy. There are holidays;  time-based trends, like Back to School or Spring Cleaning; and event-based trends, like major sporting events or concerts.
  • Unpredictable Trends: Unpredictable trends fluctuate and are usually more closely associated with current events. You need to be quick on your feet to really benefit from them, but if done correctly, they can have a powerful impact on brand awareness.

And be careful! A smart, funny, timely post about a current event can get a lot of laughs, spark engagement, inspire emotional reactions and drive a ton of positive conversation around your brand or business.

The most famous example is probably the Oreo tweet from the 2013 Super Bowl. The power went out, and a timely tweet received almost 15,000 retweets.

A misplay, however, can make your brand look silly, insensitive, ignorant or — heaven forbid — cheesy. McDonald's tried to come off as innovative, moving alongside the shift toward healthier eating by announcing all Quarter Pounders will be fresh by mid-2018 in a tweet. Wendy’s clap back, though, made McDonald’s look far from cutting edge.

Trending Content: Ideas for What Works

The problem with these easy-to-anticipate moments-in-time, however, is that everyone’s doing seasonal and holiday campaigns. How do you cut through the clutter?

  1. Use data. What information do you have that speaks to the larger customer experience? Spotify’s 2018 Goals pulled amusing anecdotes from its user bae to create a memorable holiday campaign. The infamous Netflix “Who Hurt You” tweet became international news.
     Think of clever ways you can use your customer data in a way that tells a relatable, interesting or hilarious story.
  2. Change it up. New packaging, design, special offers, memorable giveaways, etc. can change the way your brand is perceived. Oreos’ “Colorfilled” campaign leveraged the work of hot young artists and the curious trend of adult coloring to create something truly memorable for the holidays.
  3. Make people laugh. Humor can be dangerous — what you or I find funny may be genuinely offensive to someone else — and finding the safe route is also the fastest way to a joke that lands with a thud. With that caveat in mind. HotelTonight’s “Visit, Don’t Stay” is an example of the way something that inspires dread in nearly everyone — too much family time — and made it hilarious.
  4. There’s always quirky holidays. Check out websites like Days of the Year or Time and Date to find the perfect fun holiday. If you need more of a concrete example, read Entrepreneur's article about National Hot Dog Day.

BEFORE STARTING A SEASONAL CONTENT CAMPAIGN: You know that any retail marketer understands that simply publishing content is pointless without amplification. That means that you must plan if you want to collect the wins.

Make sure you, as a leader, are setting your team up for success.

  • Set aside budget for social promotion.
  • Empower your team to build relationships with influencers.
  • Make sure your content marketers are threading the assets into email campaigns, marketing automation workflows and sales materials.

Total team effort: Plan Seasonal Campaigns in advance. 

So how do you get the project moving?

  1. Identify your goals. Brand awareness? Lead generation? Driving sales? Set goals early. They will guide your approach and provide valuable decision-making guardrails.
  2. Determine your seasonal relevance. Look into the ways you can connect your products and/or services to seasonal opportunities. What do your customers need during this season? What are their concerns? What would they be interested in seeing?
  3. Lay the groundwork. Use an organizational system — a simple spreadsheet can suffice — to break down upcoming trend opportunities and keep track of your marketing campaigns to ensure you never fall behind.
  4. Conduct a competitor review. Study your competitors’ seasonal content. This audit allows you to find out if one topic about a trend is already too saturated. You can fill in the gaps and bring in new information to grab the attention of your audience.
  5. Analyze trends. Google Trends is a free tool that analyzes the top search queries in Google Search across regions and languages and then displays them in graphs to demonstrate the change in volume over time.

    Take a look at the back to school example below.

    We see the search query “back to school” is beginning to climb up the peak. As you start to see the slope rise, start prepping your content.

    Once your content is ready, and as the slope is near the peak’s apex, it’s time to publish.

  6. Create and share. Now it is time to create your content! Be sure that it’s formatted to maximize engagement — attention-grabbing headlines, high-quality photos, and clear CTAs. Make sure to share at optimal times and on the right platforms to reach your target audience.
  7. Optimize your content. If you really want to get the most out of your content, run A/B tests. Facebook, for example, offers A/B testing for ad delivery optimization which allows you to get your content in front of audiences quickly and efficiently so you can see what lands more effectively with your targets.

After some time, make sure your team revisits your content and prioritize images, headlines, articles, and videos that received the most traction. Trim away what isn’t working to make room for what is.

Retail Marketers: Seize the Day

Learn more about strategic ways retailers can seize the day with content, social media and a solid strategy. Contact Silverback Strategies today.