How to Reach People During Back-to-School Season

From July through September, parents and children alike buzz with that one-of-a-kind Back-to-School energy. It’s a time of joy and stress—a time to make a lot of decisions. And with nearly half of parents of school-aged children in the US saying mobile devices help them make family purchases,the role of mobile in reaching people during Back-to-School season is bigger than ever.

Facebook IQ was interested in how the Back-to-School conversation has evolved since the rise of mobile, so we studied what people are saying on our platforms and how they are saying it.


Back-to-School conversations happen on mobile …

More than 91% of Back-to-School-related Facebook posts, photos and videos between July and September in the US were shared on mobile. That’s 10.5x the volume of conversations that happened on desktop. A lot of that mobile conversation is coming from women, who share on mobile 71% more than men during Back-to-School season.* That percentage is even higher for young men and women on mobile.

Check out how that number rises for young people.


Every cultural group shares heavily on mobile during Back-to-School, but the African American and US Hispanic affinity segments on Facebook shared more on mobile than the general population: 67% and 55% more, respectively.*

We also found that the sharing of visual media related to Back-to-School follows a certain cadence during the season. In particular, video posts in the US saw spikes on Mondays throughout the season, especially in late August and early September.


… and they are often emotional

After looking into who’s talking and how much they’re talking, we wanted to take it one level deeper and explore what people are actually saying. We analyzed conversation on our platform to figure out what subjects dominate the Back-to-School landscape. Here’s a look at how those conversations played out on Facebook and Instagram in the US.


On both Facebook and Instagram, people talked the most about emotional topics like Pride and Affection, Transitions and Planning. There were also specific topics that rose to the top on each platform, like the kids being out of the house on Facebook and Apparel and Accessories on Instagram.

It’s important to consider not just the platform but also the seasonality when tapping into these conversation topics with a marketing message. We saw some notable spikes throughout the year on certain topics:

  • Facebook conversations about Shopping and Apparel and Accessories peaked on Saturdays throughout July and August
  • Conversations about Planning peaked in early July on both Facebook and Instagram, with more attention apparent throughout August on Instagram
  • Conversations about Technology peaked after Labor Day on Facebook and in late August on Instagram
  • Conversations about Ecommerce Retailers saw an isolated jump in mid-July on Facebook and peaked in early July and late August on Instagram


What it means for marketers


The increase in mobile sharing allows us to see new patterns in people’s behavior around Back-to-School. Knowing how, when and what people are sharing can inform better creative, smarter targeting and more accurate campaign planning. When we focus on people, and listen well, marketing messages will land with the right people and at the right time. To get a more in-depth picture of our study, including expanded strategic planning content and more findings on Parents and other groups, check out our Back-to-School infographics.

Put mobile first: With mobile playing such a big role in Back-to-School engagement, geographic and culturally relevant targeting is key to winning consideration and driving people in-store. Remember to optimize your message for feed to capture attention and encourage action, and use targeting and insights to make sure your customers see you on mobile at the optimal time.

Join the visual conversation: Create experiences that tap into the visual language of mobile, and optimize integrated campaign assets—like TV spots—for feed to extend the life of your creative and resonate with people on mobile. Make sure you are taking advantage of the spike in video sharing with creative that’s made for mobile.

Mark the emotions of the season: Consider tailoring your message based on the the topics that resonate on each platform, like the kids being out of the house on Facebook and Apparel and Accessories on Instagram. Keep the time of year in mind when crafting a marketing message and associated creative, as some topics may perform better at different times.



How to Reach People During Back-to-School Season PDF – US

How to Reach People During Back-to-School Season PDF – Canada


Back to School: Directly related to going back to school, the first day of school and school grades.
Planning: Related to getting ready to go back to school, preparation and organizing for the moment.
Pride and Affection: Related to love and positive emotions for children and other family members.
Transitions: Related to the change of seasons, thinking ahead or reminiscing, new beginnings or endings.
Kids out of the house: Related to parental emotions after the kids are back to school, including activities like leisure time, exercise and self-care.
Technology: Consumer technology brands and products and telecom brands.
Multichannel and ecommerce retailers: The brands themselves.
1 “Meet the Parents” by Ipsos Media CT (a Facebook-commissioned online study of self-identified parents ages 25–65 in AU, BR, CA, DE, ES, MX, UK and US), Mar–Apr 2015. The study included 1,000 respondents per market. Participants were split evenly by gender then divided into 4 groups: new parents (expecting a child or with a child under age 1); parents of young kids (ages 1–5); parents of school-age children (ages 6–12); and parents of teens (ages 13–17).
2 Facebook data, US only, 18+, Dec 2016–Jan 2017.
Source unless otherwise specified: Facebook data, US only, 18+, Jul–Sep 2016.
*Comparisons proportionate to each audience’s overall conversation