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Back-to-school season is one of my favorite times of the year because garden and pool supplies are edged out by brightly colored backpacks and pencil cases. I know soon I will be raking leaves, but for now I am getting my summer lanterns half-off. Back-to-school seasonality begins in early July, peaks in mid August, and falls off at the end of September. It’s high time to tune up Facebook ads accordingly.
Learn what they’re looking to buy
Thanks to the National Retail Federation, we can gain important insight into trends for this unique “holiday” season. The NRF recently conducted a survey designed to determine how consumer behavior and shopping trends will affect 2012 Back-to-School and Back-to-College spending. Some of the key findings on how these audiences will spend this season are critical to reaching those audiences on Facebook.
From the survey results, we find that K-12 parents will spend the most on clothing, accessories, and electronics this summer at discount stores, clothing stores, office supplies stores, drug stores, and thrift stores.
College students will seek dorm furnishings and décor, apparel, shoes, food items, personal care items, school supplies, collegiate branded gear, new computers, MP3 players, smartphones or other devices…whew! They will tend to shop in the same places as K-12 parents.
In addition, the results show that parents are sending their child off to college with gift cards or pre-paid cards. This presents the perfect opportunity to market these items along with gift certificates to parents of students.
Even if your product or service isn’t school-related, it could be related to products the back-to-school audiences are likely to buy. Clever positioning and targeting with Facebook ads can make it possible to reach this audience. Now is the time to review your current program to determine how back-to-school themes can be incorporated into your account. With students – and, more importantly, their parents – using Facebook for social media, it’s critical to be visible and offer unique messaging to back-to-school shoppers.
Target the kids
The targeting options for back-to-school can help you laser-focus on your target audience.
For example, teenagers and pre-teens this summer will spend more of their own money on back-to-school items. Facebook requires the minimum age of 13 to join, and advertisers can present ads to anyone who has signed up, so anyone 13 or over is fair game for advertisers. Target by age, or anyone “In high school”:
For local products or offers, you can’t select certain high schools, but you can get close if you geo-target by either city or zip code:
College students can be targeted by age and/or by selecting “In college.” Here you can also specify the college names you would like to target:
When combing ages, schools, and locations, be sure to keep your eyes on the number of people in the audience, on the right-hand side of the screen. You want to ensure your audience is not so narrow that you limit your reach.
Now let’s meet the parents…
Target the parents
I am recommending two easy ways to target parents. One is to select parents of specified age groups. This can be found in the Broad Categories > Family Status > Parents.
However, this only allows up to age 19 for the child, in which case we’d miss parents of college-aged students. For reaching parents with kids in college, you may want to consider trying an age and “Precise Interests” targeting for parents of a certain age, assuming we are getting close to parents of college students. Refine this target by reviewing Responder Demographics reports to see which age group is the higher “% of Clickers” and considering the CTR. This will help guide the ad targeting to those who best connect with the “back-to-college” messaging.
We’re days away from the back-to-school peak. With over 62 million school-aged users on Facebook, its essential to understand the shoppers you are trying to reach, what they purchase, and ways to target them effectively to get the message out. Get cracking!
– Lisa Raehsler, Big Click Co.