Influencer Marketing Key To Back-To-School Shopping

From Jake Terrell, Senior Director for Music & Brand Partnerships, BEN


After a challenging and uncertain year, how are you seeing marketers approach back-to-school season as students prepare for the return to physical classrooms this fall?

Mostly by embracing it. Everyone recognizes the challenges that come with going back to school this year but there’s a deeper sense of appreciation and excitement for the beginning of the school year. Everyone is that much more eager to reconnect with friends, to get out of the house, and to go back-to-school shopping. As a result, we’re generally seeing brands lean into the optimism people are feeling around all the positive aspects that come from in-person learning, even if classroom procedures don’t quite look the way they did pre-pandemic.


How do you think social platforms like TikTok will play a role in back-to-school planning?

TikTok plays a huge role because it’s the platform that nearly every student is using the most in their daily lives. Gen Z and Millennial audiences (aka students) are also especially moved by music, and that’s part of why TikTok – a music-centric platform -- is their go-to. According to TikTok’s own findings, 67% of users would prefer to see branded content that features music and 68% better remember a brand that uses a song they like. Moreover, 58% of users say they feel a stronger connection with a brand that uses music on TikTok and are more likely to share the video. For all of these reasons, BEN helps brands navigate the platform, get their arms around music rights clearances, and to launch content that drives engagement. HP, for example, worked with us to launch a series of TikToks with music artist Saweetie and animator King Science to promote the HP Spectre x360, targeting the college-bound audience returning to campus this fall. These pieces have only been live a short time but have already received millions of views.

In other words, for word-of-mouth back-to-school marketing that instills brand recall and engagement, a TikTok music strategy is key.


With pandemic habits like online shopping on the rise again due to the recent COVID surges, how are marketers altering their media strategies for online presence?

We’re including a lot of click-thru and call-to-action messaging in the campaigns we’re deploying for brands. As shopable TikTok tools roll-out and Instagram deprecates its ‘swipe up’ functionality for link-out stickers, we’re structuring deals with artists that allow for sales-centric content extensions so that we’re not only driving brand recall and engagement but also online purchases – with measurement in place to determine a campaign’s impact. The back-to-school consumer is already watching content on these platforms. By creating content that genuinely speaks to them while also empowering them to jump over to a brand’s website or to fill their Amazon cart, you deliver something that’s a lot of fun to watch and that happens to impact sales while you’re at it.


How does messaging differ when targeting different audience segments for back-to-school campaigns. (i.e. parents, students, higher education students, teachers)?

Sometimes it is simply a matter of song choice or the creatives with whom you work. For HP, we worked with Saweetie because she has a huge Gen Z and Millennial following and that’s who’s headed to back to school right now. Kate Spade targets a broader audience, so we launched TikTok campaigns using classic songs covered by a contemporary artist, which offers the double advantage of feeling familiar yet fresh to audiences over 35 who may already know the song while also appealing to the hashtag challenge generation who lives on TikTok.

The entire breadth of the back-to-school audience is consuming streaming and digital content en masse, so it’s a matter of leveraging the platform(s) your target audience is using and delivering them content that speaks to them while also taking advantage of the unique marketing tools each platform offers.