Grading retailers' social back-to-school promotions - SmartBrief

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Grading retailers’ social back-to-school promotions

4 min read

Brands & Campaigns

With most students back in the classroom for a new school year, now is a good time to examine what a few major players in the back-to-school season did on social media. Although mid-terms aren’t yet on the horizon for students, big-box retailers and textbook-rental companies have had plenty of time to engage their audience. Let’s hand out some grades:

Target: A-

Wal-Mart: B

Big-box retailers Target and Wal-Mart are key competitors in the fight for consumers’ back-to-school dollars, especially with numerous states offering tax-free weeks and weekends prior to school starting. Both companies devoted their Facebook cover photos to the back-to-school season. Target’s cover photo is promoting its ongoing charitable efforts to give back to neighborhood schools, while Wal-Mart makes use of user-generated content to create a first day of school photo collage. Wal-Mart shared a series of posts targeting back-to-school shoppers including daily college décor essentials to afternoon snack and/or lunch ideas for kids.

Target is heavily promoting it’s #GiveWithTarget campaign using a mix of mini infographics, encouraging status updates and short videos featuring ambitious educators and eager elementary school students. Alongside the #GiveWithTarget campaign, the brand is also promoting back-to-school fashion, supplies and college essentials with a collage of images. Target even let fans get in on the back-to-school style action on Instagram with its #KidsGotStyle campaign, which invited parents to post a photo of their child that included the contest hashtag and tagged Target’s profile in the caption.

Target selected a few photo from its submissions to turn into what the brand called Stylagrams, which were custom short videos starring the selected child that paired their image with items that matched their individual style.

Target earned an A- for its back-to-school spirit, as the brand did a good job varying the content they shared with their audience but also getting them involved in the process. Wal-Mart earned a B for it’s work to get conversations and ideas flowing related the back-to-school theme.

Chegg: B+

BookRenter: C+

The textbook-rental industry has become a relatively large sector, as college student have demanded more affordable textbook options. Chegg is one of the most recognized names in the industry, and that’s clear on Facebook as well, as it has around 200,000 more fans than competitor BookRenter.

Chegg is offering up discount codes in addition to running two campaigns: #GiveBackToSchool and #CheggMeOut. #GiveBackToSchool is just what you’d expect it to be: A campaign that is encouraging students to post a photo of their first day with the contest hashtag in exchange for a donation to Pencils of Promise. The #CheggMeOut campaign is offering $200 to $250 to the student who shares the most creative content about the money they saved by renting books from Chegg.

Chegg is also engaging its college student audience with memes, which are extremely popular with this group, and they often see more than 1,000 likes and around 150 shares on Facebook. Chegg receives a B+ for creating a variety of original back-to-school content and offering incentives to get the audience to share their excitement about saving money by renting textbooks.

BookRenter doing a solid job getting it’s smaller audience engaged mostly by posting memes and humorous e-cards. BookRenter earns a C+ for its social efforts during the back-to-school season, during which they did garner a lot of engagement with some of their posts, although the company rarely shared original content besides promotional discount codes and blog posts.

Tiana Tucker is a community manager for an online family nurse practitioner degree program, Nursing@Simmons, offered by Simmons College. Follow Tiana on Twitter or learn more at about her on