The History of Halloween and How it Applies to Brand Communication

Holiday Brand Communication

Americans – both young and old – just can’t get enough of Halloween. Beginning at a young age, October marks the start of the holiday season, bringing out the kid in all of us. From pumpkin-spiced everything to all the spooky decorations and festive costumes, it’s impossible to not get into the spirit of Halloween. But where did this ghostly holiday even begin, and what does it have to do with brand communication?

The Seriously Ancient Origins of Halloween

Let’s dive into the history of Halloween first.

Halloween was created from Samhain, an ancient harvest festival that took place at the end of the Celtic year. Centuries ago, this festival was a way to mark the changing of seasons from summer to winter. During these first years of Samhain, the spirits of the dead were believed to return on October 31st, damaging the crops and playing evil tricks on those who were still living.

In the eighth century, the holiday was made a bit more official when Pope Gregory III declared November 1 as the day to honor all saints – or ‘All Saints Day’. The night before Samhain soon evolved, becoming known as All Hallows Eve and, today, Halloween. While our ancestors’ experience with Halloween was more of a mystical event, our Halloween is a conglomeration of Samhain, All Saints Day, and All Hallow’s Eve. Today, the spooky holiday is all about getting dressed up as your favorite superhero, carving pumpkins, and trick-or-treating.

Different Cultures, Different Celebrations

While the Celts are credited with ‘starting’ Halloween, many other cultures all over the world have had their own relationship with October 31st for as far back as we can trace. You may be wondering where the costume element of Halloween started, and thankfully we have an answer! During Samhain, celebrators would wear animal skins during large bonfire celebrations, and others would dress up as saints or angels for All Saints Day festivities. While times have certainly changed, this tradition has stayed the same.

Halloween was first introduced to the United States in the mid-1800s when Irish and English immigrants brought their traditions along with them. Yep, you have culture-growing immigrants to thank for the chance to dress up as Lady Gaga or your favorite SNL skit.

While America’s Halloween has roots in Irish and English immigrants, things look quite a bit different today than they did in the 1800s. For example, the first “trick-or-treaters” definitely weren’t adorable children dressed to the nines. In fact, they were Medieval English people who believed in the practice of “souling,” which occurred when the lower class would beg for sweet breads, offering to pray for others’ souls in return. The version of trick-or-treating we all know and love didn’t start until around the 1930s.

Using Halloween for Brand Communication

OK, now that we understand where, exactly, Halloween got its start, let’s look at what it means for your business. For businesses, Halloween marks the start of the holiday season – a.k.a. marketing game-time. It is estimated that Americans spend more than $9 billion on Halloween, which is just one reason to respect the holiday, even if it isn’t necessarily your cup of tea, or witches brew, rather. With so many opportunities to build brand awareness with good brand communication and show customers your fun side, it’s hard not to get overwhelmed. This is where a smart digital marketing company comes in handy.

There are so many great ways to let your personality show while engaging existing and potential customers at the same time. Heck, so many people get into the spirit of Halloween that supporting a brand that does the same is a win-win for everyone. Whether you are doing some internal training or looking to engage customers will staying one step ahead of your competitors, here are some great tips for marketing your brand communication around Halloween:

  • Host a contest (online or in-store) – Engagement is key when it comes to communicating your brand. A festive way to do just that is by hosting a contest of some sort. From having people guess the number of candy corns in a jar (tantalizing them with a gift card or similar prize) to putting on a pumpkin carving contest, have some fun with it!
  • Get creative with hashtagsSocial media and hashtags give you a great opportunity to get creative. The power of words is a big one, and a dedicated hashtag will be a good way for customers to get involved.
  • Collaborate with other businesses – Supporting local businesses starts from the top. There are tons of opportunities to collaborate and team up with other businesses for special Halloween events that will showcase you both.
  • Get in the spirit of Halloween – Whether you have your employees dress up, you decorate your business, or you make some fun Halloween posts on social media, getting in the spirit of Halloween is one of the best ways to market your brand.

Have fun with this and don’t overthink it! As we learned, Halloween is all about coming together and celebrating the change of seasons, with a little ghoulish fun sprinkled in here and there.

Social Media Marketing Tips for Business Owners

Social Media Marketing Tips

Staying on top of the latest social media marketing trends can be overwhelming, to say the least. As soon as you think you’ve finally figured out what works and what doesn’t, things change, and you must head back to the drawing board. We understand that this can be exhausting (believe me), but it doesn’t have to be this way. With a little bit of research and the help from your friendly neighborhood digital marketing company, these social media marketing tips, your game will be on point.

As a small business owner, one of your most important tasks is making sure you are connecting with the right audience. Let’s be honest, whether or not you have support from the local community can make or break your business. In many cases, we meet business owners who say their biggest challenge has been spreading the word about their business and drawing traffic to their website. Enter – social media marketing.

What is Social Media Marketing?

Before we look at some ways to use social media marketing to your advantage, let’s look at what, exactly, it is. Through various platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, businesses can connect with potential customers, and customers can connect with their favorite brands and local businesses. Sounds like a win-win to us!

In a nutshell, this is what social media marketing is all about. It is a straightforward, affordable way for businesses to market themselves to a demographic that not only spends a lot of time online, but relies on smartphones, laptops, and tablets to learn about new businesses and brands. Using the various social media platforms in an organized and calculated way will help you keep everything in order as you begin to grow your following and, in turn, your business.

Social Media Marketing Tips

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s go over some of our favorite social media marketing tips for business owners:

Use Video and Infographics

These days, one of the best ways to engage an audience is through video and infographics. This is especially true on Facebook because of the current algorithm. You may have noticed this already, but Facebook pushes videos to the top of the newsfeed. You can use videos and infographics in many different ways, from educating your audience about your brand to funny, light-hearted snippets.

Participate and Connect

This is one of those social media marketing tips that deserves a place in the front of your mind.  Research shows that Millennials are more likely to engage with a brand that they feel they know and receive personalized service from. Social media offers a great platform for you to engage with your audience, whether by simply responding to comments or reading and listening to their content.

And, don’t let the word “Millennials” convince you into thinking this wouldn’t work with other generational demographics.  It absolutely does.  In a digital society like ours, connecting and being social online with any audience builds trust, rapport, and loyalty.

Use Curated Images

Similar to video and infographics, high-quality images offer a great way for you to capture your audience’s attention. There are many different free sites out there today that have great photos for every need. By placing text over a photo or other image, you will help your audience get to know you and your brand even better.

Determine Which Platforms Are Best For You

Perhaps one of the most important and vital social media marketing tips is this.  Not every single social media platform will be right for your business or your audience. For some, Twitter and Facebook make the most sense, whereas others may thrive on Instagram and Snapchat.  It all depends on where your buyers are. Understanding the pros and cons of each and how they can benefit you will be the key to finding the right platform.

Start small.  You don’t have to be everywhere.  Master one to two platforms first.

It’s All About the Quality

Today’s consumers are very particular and don’t have time for fluff. When it comes to social media marketing, keep this in mind and always choose quality over quantity. It can be tempting to post multiple times a day on every single platform there is in order to reach a bigger audience, but this will do more harm than good.

Never Stop Learning

Last, but certainly not least, it is important that you continue to learn and stay on top of the latest social media marketing trends. Social media marketing is a fast-moving, constantly changing industry that requires you to stay on your toes and always be open to learning. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to think you know it all.

We hope these social media marketing tips give you a better idea about how to build a social media campaign that speaks to your brand and actually works for you and your customers. If you have questions about social media marketing or would like to discuss how you can use it to benefit your business, please give the Your Imprint team a call today.

Search Engine Ranking – How Links Can Positively Impact SEO

Search Engine Ranking, Links, and SEO

Don’t be intimidated, but search engine ranking requires more structure and planning than many realize. One of the best ways to increase your ranking and draw traffic to your website is by building links within your content.

Links and backlinks are like the curtain track for your business.  If the strings are broken, if the track is rusty from overuse and no care, or if the fabric is ripped, there’s a feeling of chaos and disorganization.  Additionally, using negative SEO tactics, like keyword stuffing, will instantly give off a “spammy” vibe.  People and search engines are a lot smarter now, so those black-hat methods make the business owner look like the clown, and while we love clowns and the laughter they bring (the non-creepy, non-IT kind at least), we don’t think that’s what you’re aiming for.

Link building is the maintenance and upkeep required to make sure your digital curtain rises on-time for the audience, and that the stage set is perfectly organized for entertainment.

You may wonder if where a link lands impacts its value in terms of search engine ranking. Does the one in the image send better signals than the one buried in content? Or how about the link in the navigation that you thought would enhance SEO?  Truth be told, where a link lands and what type of link it is impacts its overall value. You’ll find that there is a bit of a formula to the art of building a good link profile, and once you get the hang of it, you will see just how simple it is.

Determining the Value of Links for Search Engine Ranking

One of the first things you must consider is their overall value. For example, content links are greater than navigation ones, which are greater than those in the footer.  And a text link is more valuable than an image alt link.

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Keep in mind, links that are more visible have greater vibe and get more weight than links that blend in with the content. Making your links stand out by putting them in bold is one tactic, or you could try linking unique words that catch a user’s eye. These words are going to be ones that meet a specific user need, especially the one they came to the article for in the first place. It often helps to put yourself in the user’s shoes and consider what words attract the eye and grab attention.

Seeing the Structure in On-Page Links

While it is not universally true, content links carry more weight than navigation links because they are typically specific to a topic rather than repeated on every page. That being said, creating a well-rounded portfolio may send the best signals to Google and improve your search engine ranking. Some here, some there with an emphasis on uniqueness rather than repetitiveness.

This holds true for footer links especially, as simply repeating what you have in the main navigation will lead to devaluing the links at the bottom. There’s better use for that space!

Ok, back to the structure of the page. Remember, first links get more weight than second links to the same page. However, this is true from the perspective of the HTML, not necessarily the visual design of the page. It is important to keep all these various moving parts in mind when creating a blog or web page, and we recommend never using the same link more than once on any one post or page.

The last thing you (or Google) want is to manipulate SEO by repeating keyword-rich links throughout your website. This is considered keyword stuffing and it will get you in big, big trouble with the search engines.

Using Your Space Wisely

One theory that has come up recently is that links that are used more frequently carry more weight in search engine ranking. This seems to be good logic, if you ask us.  The pages that have the most links to it is called cornerstone content by Yoast SEO.  Choosing to include highly trafficked links in your content will amp up your score, which is exactly what you are trying to do, right?

This holds true for replicating keywords in navigation that you know get a lot of clicks on high traffic sites. Google instantly sees value in these types of links, and when Google is happy, everyone is happy.

With all this, it is important to keep in mind that Google will ignore a link that is used elsewhere on a page, giving only value to the first one. So, what does this say about internal links to main navigation pages? It clearly means it’s usually not worthwhile. This is where a blog comes in handy. A blog can carry many different pages that are not listed on your main navigation. You can then link back to these pages for better credibility. Blogs are essential to top ranking higher in search engines.

So, now that you’ve got the nitty gritty, or at least an overview of link valuing by Google, it’s time to let your SEO agency optimize your website. Choosing an SEO agency may seem like finding a needle in a haystack, but the ones that stand out are the agencies that get results for their clients. The process for building links can be tricky to track, so beware of quick-fix tactics that cheap agencies tout to draw you in.

 

Additional Reference:

Moz – Links in the header, footer, and navigation