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Holiday Social: How Brands used Social Media over Memorial Day Weekend

Holiday Social: How Brands used Social Media over Memorial Day Weekend

Everybody loves a holiday and brands are no different. Holidays present an opportunity to connect with customers on a topic everyone can relate to and it's now almost a given that brands will launch a campaign or just send out a message every time a holiday comes around. The most recent holiday in the US was Memorial Day, a day for remembering war veterans past and present but also increasingly a long weekend that has come to signal the start of summer in the US. For brands, Memorial Day Weekend is a bit of a tricky proposition. Memorial Day is at heart, a day of remembrance yet it coincides with the first long weekend of summer, a time when many will be eager to get out and buy food, drinks and perhaps even a new car, spurred on by the warm and sunny weather.

Here at Talkwalker, we often use social listening to track the social media presence of brands around special events so this time we thought it would be interesting to see how major brands in the automotive, beer and retail sectors used social over the Memorial Day long weekend and to see whether they managed to walk the tightrope between respect and promotion. We looked at Facebook and Twitter in particular to see whether major US brands were able to use these channels effectively.

Automotive: Jeep - Simple but Effective


Brands examined: Ford, Chevrolet, Jeep, Dodge, GMC

On both Twitter and Facebook Jeep came out on top and the most shared message was very simple:

jeep fb size

(Most shared Memorial Day post on social media from US automotive brands)

Jeep's audience reacted with vast numbers of shares as people began posting old pictures of Jeep's used by the military over the years. For Jeep, it appears that their link with the military gave their social messaging more weight than their competitors.

automotice fb red line

(Audience activity figures for US Automotive brands on Facebook)

On Twitter although Ford and Chevrolet were mentioned most often, in terms of people engaging with corporate Twitter feeds, Jeep and Chevrolet dominated with 8 of the 10 most shared tweets coming from those two brands.

automotive owned tweet performance

(5 most shared tweets on Twitter feeds of US Automotive brands)

Whereas Jeep’s messaging was a little more varied with posts about Memorial Day alongside tips for bringing down the sunroof and encouraging drivers to have an adventurous weekend, Dodge stayed very short and punchy with messages rarely exceeding 10 words.

Generally speaking the campaigns were fairly low key with each brand tweeting just a few times and not pushing too hard, perhaps fearing a backlash for potentially over commercializing a day of remembrance.

Beer - #ItsMillerTime


Brands examined: Bud Light, Coors Light, Budweiser, Miller Lite, Corona Extra

With summer comes beer and major US beer brands were out in full force over Memorial Day weekend. Beer brands were fighting to establish dominance on social channels but really the undisputed winner on the night was Miller Lite. Although on Facebook Bud Light managed to generate more mentions than Miller Lite, on Twitter and in terms of overall impact Miller Lite came out on top mainly because of their campaign to encourage people to send in photos using the #itsmilltertime hashtag in return for a cooler full of Miller Lite for the best entries. tw sov and miller time

(Share of voice for beer brand hashtags and most shared tweets using #itsmillertime)

Even though the campaign technically ended on May 22nd, people continued to use the hashtag over the weekend with people sending photos of themselves this time with their newly arrived coolers of Miller Lite. Interestingly, all beer related mentions tailed off as the weekend progressed perhaps suggesting that most people had already stocked up for the weekend by the time Memorial Day actually rolled around.

Retailers – Right on Target


Brands Examined: Walmart, Target, Safeway, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Safeway

A long weekend often means lots of shopping so retailers may have been expected to go all out to try and woo customers into stores but on social at least, campaigns were pretty low key and only touched on Memorial Day. In fact the biggest themes discussed on the social channels of major retailers were linked to Walmart’s new policies regarding the human treatment of animals and Target’s announcement that they would be donating 1 billion dollars to support education.

target walmart themes

(Top themes linked to Target and Walmart over Memorial Day Weekend)

Target did also however receive a lot of third party mentions from partnered brands promoting their Memorial Day Weekend deals which helped to give them more visbility in an indirect way. As such it’s probably fair to say that Target came out fractionally on top in the retailers sweepstakes.

Looking at all the brands examined as a whole it’s noticeable that none really pushed too much on social. There could be several reasons for this including a) the fact that it was a holiday so comparatively few people would be checking social media b) brands may have been wary of over commercializing a day of remembrance.

In fact looking at mentions of Memorial Day and related hashtags as a whole, it’s clear that topics of discussion around Memorial Day weekend focused on remembrance rather than sales, barbecues or parties, suggesting that brands were probably right not to be too aggressive with their marketing.