Black Friday and Cyber Monday are the largest retail days of the year – and this year, marketing managers are pushing content on social media like never before. Adobe Digital Insights predicted that Black Friday would be bigger than ever, with an 11.5% increase in sales, exceeding $3 billion. Also in the report, Adobe Digital predicted that “social media will play a big part in what sells or what doesn’t as shoppers will look to social sites for feedback, reviews and more.”
Making the Decision to Shop
Since millennials are two times more likely than Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers to learn about holiday gifts from social media, it’s no surprise that retailers are working to get the attention of shoppers this season. On the forefront of these initiatives is Sephora, an online beauty retailer that has moved up to the number 1 spot on the Shareablee Black Friday Retail Brand Edition of its Social Scorecard by having 2.4 million interactions on social media this year across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Shareablee founder and CEO, Tania Yuki, spoke about this year’s list saying, “The consumer is much more skeptical of the retail season this year, and are rewarding only those retailers truly making an effort to be authentic and to add value to their shopping and research experience in the lead-up to Black Friday.” This is reflected in Sephora’s efforts to really connect with the consumer through Instagram and their new chatbot on Kik, which helps consumers with makeup purchases.
While other retailers like Nordstrom and Amazon also gained the attention of consumers on Facebook and Twitter, respectively, some retail giants like Bergdorf Goodman, Target, and Walmart were all absent form Shareable’s list and had declining consumer engagement online. This could mean trouble for retailers that aren’t properly engaging their consumers online, as the 2016 Sprout Index predicts that the average retailer should expect a 30% increase in social messages from customers, 56% of which require a response.
A vital part of the Black Friday social media madness has been the use of hashtags. On Black Friday, here were the top trending hashtags on Twitter:
The Decision Not to Shop
While big brands can utilize #BlackFriday to promote sales or discounts, other hashtags have surfaced on social media. The #OptOutside campaign encourages those who don’t want to participate in the Black Friday madness to get outside, visit state parks, or embark on an adventure that keeps consumers outside of the retail frenzy. Sponsored by REI, an outdoor gear and apparel retailer, #OptOutside has seen huge traction, as Alex Thompson, who oversees Brand Stewardship and Engagement for REI accounts, “Just a day away from Black Friday, participation in #OptOutside has more than doubled since last year. That’s mind-blowing given the scale of engagement last year. More than 550 organizations have adopted the movement as their own. We hope the movement spreads beyond the boundaries of the USA because we believe that life just gets better when you spend it outdoors.” REI closed all of its retail stores on Black Friday, and paid its employees to take the day off.
The #OptOutside campaign has seen so much engagement particularly because of (1) the actionable nature of the campaign (no pun intended) and (2) consumers’ preexisting negative sentiment with Black Friday. Tweets in the #OptOutside feed feature people taking pictures of their children on a hike, walking their dogs, and even visiting state parks. If people aren’t sure how to #OptOutside, REI offers a search tool to find ways to get outside near you, including hiking, mountain biking, skiing and snowboarding, and climbing.
The #OptOutside campaign also benefits from the negative sentiment around Black Friday. According to social media intelligence tracker, Crimson Hexagon, a large portion of online conversation revolving around Black Friday last year focused on anger, sadness, fear, and despair. Because many shoppers display negative experiences on social media, it’s no surprise that the #OptOutside campaign has received such positive traction.
Shopping + Brand-Building
Patagonia has taken a different approach to Black Friday and instead of closing their doors, announced that, “This year Patagonia will donate 100 percent of global Black Friday sales in our stores and on our website to grassroots organizations working in local communities to protect our air, water and soil for future generations.” Rose Marcarioa, CEO of Patagonia, announced the company’s commitment to the cause in a blog post, and expects that Black Friday sales will raise over $2 million.
Whether you ventured out to the mall on Black Friday or not, it’s clear that brands must start to take a stance on the Black Friday madness. While Sephora and Amazon fight for consumer engagement on social media for Black Friday promotions, REI and Patagonia are able to appeal to less sale-focused consumers and build their brand by going against the traditional Black Friday expectations. This Black Friday I was able to #OptOutside – what about you?