How The Audience Feels About Halloween During The Pandemic

Can Halloween still be fun when every other day of 2020 has already been so scary? To answer that question, ListenFirst examined how the social media audience is responding to Halloween this year, giving marketers an analytics based view of how the holiday will or won’t be different this year, and what Halloween related messaging is still connecting on social media. 

People Care More About Halloween More This Year

There were 8,453,455 Tweets mentioning Halloween during October 1-19, 2020, which was 45% more Tweets than mentioned Halloween between October 1-19, 2019. Additionally, during October 1-19, 2020 sentiment around Halloween has been 45% Positive and 11% Negative compared to sentiment being 39% Positive and 12% Negative during the same time last year. 

In a topsy-turvy world, people are looking for all kinds of reasons to celebrate.

There Is More Fear Of Trick-or-Treating 

Between October 1-19, 2020, 9% of the Tweets discussing Trick-or-Treating expressed the emotion of Fear, up from only 4% during the same time last year. Many Tweets spoke to the public health concerns, for example pointing out that “public health advice is to NOT go trick-or-treating this year”. 

However at the same time, the social audience is talking more about Trick-or-Treating and is actually more positive about the activity.  Between October 1-19, 2020 there were 374,888 Tweets mentioning Trick-or-Treating with sentiment around those Tweets being 42% Positive and 16% Negative compared to 298,836 Tweets last year that were 38% Positive and 18% Negative. The reason people are talking about Trick-or-Treating more is because they’re discussing safe ways to participate in the activity, for instance a socially distant Trick or Treat Cavalcade or using kitchen tongs to distribute candy to kids.

Masks Will Be An Even Bigger Deal This Halloween 

Halloween was already the one day of the year where people already wanted to wear masks, and it looks that’s only going to be more true during the pandemic. There were 38,730 Tweets mentioning both Halloween and Mask between October 1-19, 2020, a 75% increase from the 22,107 Tweets that mentioned both Halloween and Mask between October 1-19, 2019. 

Don’t Expect A Lot Of Coronavirus Related Costumes This Year 

Looking at the 100 Tweets mentioning Halloween Costumes that generated the most responses between October 1-19, 2020, not a single Tweet either showed a coronavirus related costume or even talked about wearing one. More popular was celebrity throwback outfits, such as Lil Uzi Vert dressed as Frankenstein’s Monster, a rat costume you can’t unsee, pitches for Riverdale or Ratchet cosplay, and people dressing up their dogs. The audience is looking for escapism in their Halloween outfits, meaning the opposite of direct references to the pandemic. The one current events story that has taken off as a Halloween costume is a Mike Pence/fly wig or just a fly costume, which sold out the night of the debate. 

Snack Food Posts About Halloween Performing On Par With Last Year 

Looking at the top 200 performing social media posts by 764 CPG Food brands between October 1-19, 2020, there were 19 social media posts that mention Halloween, with those posts averaging 9,299 responses. A Nutella Instagram post about breadsticks and pretzels with chocolate dip generated 26,259 responses and was the best performing of these Halloween posts. In comparison, among the top 200 best performing posts by CPG Food brands between October 1-19, 2019; 7 of those posts mentioned Halloween, with the Halloween themed posts averaging 9,272 responses. Even if less people will be Trick-or-Treating this year, the social media audience is still just as interested in Halloween related posts about snacks. 


While Halloween is going to look a little different this year, online at least, it doesn’t have to. The social media audience is looking for Halloween related content that reinforces a sense of normalcy to the holiday, and gives them a night off from the gloom and doom. 

Does your brand want more social listening insights around holidays during the pandemic? Request a ListenFirst Demo today!   

The Social Media Conversation Around Going Back To School 

The term back to school implies something that’s happened before and as we all know there’s nothing about this upcoming school year that’s going to resemble the classroom experience of the past. Whether students will be resuming with remote learning or suiting up in PPE to take classes in person, there are some unprecedented challenges for students this Fall. That means it’s a great moment to take the temperature of social media, to better understand how the audience is processing these changes. Using ListenFirst’s social media listening platform capabilities, here are 5 key insights about how the social audience is responding to the new school year during a pandemic. 

Insight #1: Back To School Posts Pivoting To Back To Living Room Posts 

There were 2,533,191 Tweets that mentioned School between July 16 – August 16, 2020 which is a 32% increase from the volume of Tweets that mentioned School between July 16 – August 16, 2019. Obviously, it’s not the same Back To School related chatter and in fact, even with online discussion about how to return to school safely, there’s less Back To School conversation on social media in 2020. There were 176,648 unique Tweets that mentioned Back To School during July 16 – August 16, 2020 which was a -17% decrease from the volume of Tweets that mentioned Back To School during July 16 – August 16, 2019.

As the audience is talking about Back To School less, smart brands are largely pivoting to other school related topics. For example, PacSun received 7,800 responses to an Instagram post showing a model in an outfit optimized for his living room and virtual classes while American Eagle shared a video post on Instagram that received 6,405 responses showing a model getting her look ready for a virtual class. This Fall students are dressing as much for Zoom as they are for in person interactions and brand messaging needs to reflect that reality.  

Insight #2: The Coronavirus Related School Discussion Is Dominated By Politics

Between July 16 – August 16, 2020 there were 164,196 Tweets that mentioned both School and the Coronavirus and the five of those Tweets that generated the most responses were directly related to politics. For instance, Kamala Harris generated 198,687 responses that blamed  Donald Trump and Mike Pence for millions of kids being unable to go back to school. Meanwhile a Tweet asking how COVID-19 is too dangerous for the Republican Convention to happen in Jacksonville but safe enough to send kids to school generated 40,287 responses and an ER doctor received 19,972 responses saying it’s the administration not the coronavirus that’s keeping our kids from going to school next month. 

Overall 11% of the Tweets that mentioned both School and the Coronavirus between July 16 – August 16, 2020 directly mentioned Government or Politics. Sentiment around Tweets that mentioned School, the Coronavirus, and Politics was 51% Negative and 7% Positive, meaning it’s an especially negative subject that brands want to steer clear of.  

Insight #3: Back To School Brands Post That Succeed Are Pandemic Specific 

With most students not going back to physical classrooms, there’s significantly less interest in brand posts back to school related content on social media compared to the past, though there have been some exceptions.

Forever 21 has succeeded in their social media Back To School campaign because they’ve  either addressed the situation head on or by asking questions that are just as relevant during remote learning. For instance, they generated 26,287 responses to an Instagram post asking for your number one surviving quarantine tip. Contests also still work, as Forever 21 received 19,742 responses to an Instagram post asking the audience to share their back to school goals for a chance to be featured on their Instagram page.

Another successful strategy has been hedging and using language that addresses both remote learning and in personal classes in back to school posts by brands. Like Walmart generating 5,413 responses to an Instagram post talking about how they have back to school products, “however school looks this fall” while a Kohl’s Instagram post about having comfy styles for the school year, whether you’re “heading back or logging in” received 1,357 responses.

Brands need to share content that’s relevant to the audience, and right now that means Back To School content that acknowledges the pandemic and it’s unique challenges.   

Insight #4: The Social Audience Is Very Nervous About The Level Of Protection Inside Schools 

Between July 16 – August 16, 2020 there were 34,701 Tweets that mentioned both School and a PPE related phrase (PPE, Mask, Plexiglass, Face Shield, Disinfectant, Gloves, Hand Sanitizer, or Purell). Sentiment around those Tweets was 55% Negative compared to 11% Positive, with 33% of the Tweets expressing the emotion of Fear, and 15% of those Tweets expressing Anger.

There was a lot of frustration expressed in PPE related School Tweets by parents, for instance a Tweet that got 580,544 responses talked about how kids are just going to end up trading their masks when they get to school, while another Tweet that generated 352,359 responses complained that a school superintendent in Georgia said there’s no way to enforce a mandate to wear masks, despite girls getting sent home for dress code violations all the time. Another mom got 8,433 responses to a Tweet pointing out that her daughter’s public school has a no ripped jeans policy, in response to the claim that mask wearing should be a personal choice. 

With such an emphasis on PPE in the real-time conversation around returning to the classroom, on a brand level it’s a great reminder that addressing safety is going to connect with the social media audience in back to school messaging. For instance Vera Bradley shared a post about Youth Pleated Masks for kids heading back to school which received 4,781 responses on Instagram while Target emphasized contactless pickup in their YouTube video about back to school shopping. 

Insight #5: Brands Should Post Content That Assists With Learn From Home Technology 

There were 55,343 Tweets that mentioned Remote Learning or related terms (Virtual Classroom, Home Schooling, Virtual Learning) between July 16 – August 16, 2020 and given the extent to which technology is enabling remote learning; certain platforms and tools are becoming way more discussed on social media.  

For example, there were 357,943 Tweets mentioning Zoom between July 16 – August 16, 2020, an increase of 700% from the volume of Tweets discussing the video communications brand between July 16 – August 16, 2019. In the same time period, Google for Education which posts about Google Classroom content was mentioned in 6,648 Tweets, an increase of 58% from the number of Tweets mentioning the brand between July 16 – August 16, 2019.

The social media audience is talking about technology relating to virtual learning more than ever before and by offering virtual backgrounds or sharing tips for parents to set a virtual work environment for their kids, brands can create social media content that will align with what’s on parents minds right now. 


As we all struggle to adjust to the new normal during the pandemic, knowledge about how the audience is reacting in real-time is more important than ever. ListenFirst can provide you with the social media insights you need to know about how to best connect with the audience during this time when their lives are so radically different. 

Want more information about how ListenFirst can help your brand understand the rapidly changing conversation occuring on social media? Request a demo today! 

All the Twitter data used above is from the United States only and excludes Retweets. 

Social Media Special Report: Top Consumer Food Brands

How have social media strategies have changed, and what’s working, for Top Consumer Food Brands?

5 Ways Hospitals Are Using Social Media To Bring Back Non COVID-19 Related Patients

The following is a guest post by Allison Lee.  

While many hospitals have been swamped during the pandemic, it has only been with one type of patient. Apart from coronavirus cases, the amount of patients being treated in hospitals is actually way down. In fact, Daniel Horn, director of population health for general internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, notes that the healthcare system is facing at least a 70% decrease in revenue.

Hospitals now have both the bandwidth and safety precautions in place to perform elective surgeries and treat non-COVID-19 related illnesses; meaning the challenge for healthcare marketers becomes finding the most effective ways to convey to prospective patients, it’s now safe to come back.

In this post, we’ll highlight the five ways hospitals are most successfully using social media to reassure their communities that it’s safe to return.

Virtual Tours

Mayo Clinic will expand in-person care on all of its campuses as COVID-19 executive orders are lifted for elective…

Posted by Mayo Clinic on Friday, May 8, 2020

In the real estate industry, virtual tours have proven to be an effective tool in helping customers engage with realtors. The same could also be said about hospitals and healthcare institutions. People are still largely afraid of leaving their homes, so hospitals have been launching virtual tours through social media platforms to help alleviate patient anxiety. With a virtual tour, hospitals can showcase the step-by-step process a patient will experience if they decide to visit for a consultation or procedure. And to make virtual tours more enticing and in-depth, some hospitals and institutions have even shot their virtual tours in 360°.

For example Mayo Clinic launched a virtual tour on how their Rochester facilities are geared to handle in-person care during the pandemic. The video was posted on their Facebook page and received 1,400 reactions and 201 comments. Mayo Clinic’s virtual tour highlights the safety protocols that patients need to anticipate when they visit the Mayo Clinic facility. Another healthcare institution that has released a video virtual tour is Metro Health. Metro Health’s virtual tour on YouTube features how hospital staff routinely disinfects hospital equipment to quash any anxieties a patient might have prior to their visit. Metro Health also mentioned how patients can access their services through virtual appointments in case physical visits aren’t an option.

Share Safety Best Practices

Richard Shlofmitz, M.D., Chairman of Cardiology discusses COVID-19 and how to safely resume getting elective procedures.

Posted by St. Francis Hospital, The Heart Center on Monday, June 15, 2020

Other types of content that hospitals can produce to entice patients back are videos and infographics that detail safety practices. A steady stream of these general safety tips posted on a healthcare provider’s Facebook page will boost patient visits. For instance, St. Francis Hospital’s Facebook page featured a video by their cardiology chairman, Dr. Richard Shlofmitz, that details how the COVID-19 crisis has affected their institution and what they’ve done to keep patients safe during these precarious times.

Having your groceries delivered to your home can be a convenient way to avoid going out in public. However, consider the…

Posted by Montefiore Health System on Sunday, May 3, 2020

With health and safety protocols, constant reminders are key for consistent practice. That’s why healthcare providers have been sharing tips on how to keep oneself safe during the pandemic. We can see this being done by the Montefiore Health System on their Facebook page. In one of their posts, they share why patients need to sanitize food items and how they can do it. Safety and hygiene are of the utmost importance during these times, and healthcare providers are more than welcome to post this kind of content on their social media pages.

COVID-19 safety tips need to be specific to prevent confusion. For example, Dr. Mariea Snell, assistant director of Maryville University’s doctor of nursing practice program, highlights the importance of paying attention to your nails and between your fingers, where dirt and pathogens can easily hide. “The friction created by washing is very important,” she says. “So be sure to rub your hands together briskly.” Small tidbits like this, which create clear and actionable steps for people outside of simply telling them to wash their hands, can make a big difference in helping them stay healthy. This also lets them see your hospital both as an institution that knows what they’re doing and as a brand they can trust.


"I was in really bad pain for nearly two years. It hurt to just walk to the fridge. I was told both my hips were…

Posted by Tampa General Hospital on Sunday, June 21, 2020

Around weighing a potential visit, there’s nothing more reassuring during these anxious times than reading reviews left by other patients who have visited the same hospital. But more than that, healthcare providers can highlight reviews that detail good patient experience and post them directly on their feed to be seen by other prospective patients.

COVID-19 made it difficult for hospitals to accommodate patients who had other health issues. Moreover, a lot of medical procedures have been delayed or postponed. Now that things have settled and healthcare providers enforced stricter safety measures, patients who come in for procedures and consultations experience firsthand how things have changed. As seen in the post made by Tampa General Hospital which generated 277 responses on Facebook, patients can detail their hospital experiences and bear witness to the safety protocols imposed by a hospital. Testimonial posts such as this will resonate with other patients ⁠— encouraging them to get the care they need.

Highlight Disinfecting Technology

Our environmental services team (EVS) is diligently and comprehensively cleaning and disinfecting all areas of our…

Posted by St. Joseph's Hospital on Tuesday, May 26, 2020

It’s crucial for hospitals to make sure that COVID-19 doesn’t spread in their institutions, so they should have the best disinfecting technology to kill any pathogens and viruses. From something as basic as hand-washing stations to as advanced as self-disinfecting surfaces, disinfecting technology has certainly advanced.

In an attempt to keep outpatient departments free from any pathogens or diseases, some hospitals have enlisted the help of germ-killing robots. St. Joseph’s Hospital has been using the Tru-D Smart UVC Ultraviolet Disinfection robot which maintains the sterility of their facilities and even extends the life of personal protective equipment, sharing that news in a Facebook post that received 486 responses. Since new disinfection technologies are a point of interest for the general public, healthcare providers can highlight these technologies on their social media pages. Indeed, a post by University Hospitals of Cleveland detailing their technological advances has proven to be a hit on Facebook, showing that patients are more enticed to visit when hospitals showcase their best technologies.

Don’t Avoid a Necessary Visit Just Because the Issue Isn’t COVID-19 Related

Despite being the main reason why hospitals are filling up right now, COVID-19 is not the only health issue patients can contract or develop. A lot of health problems need urgent medical attention, and patients should never hesitate to visit hospitals to receive care. As seen on their Instagram post which generated 353 responses, Michigan Medicine emphasizes how waiting too long to attend to a health issue puts patients at a bigger risk compared to contracting COVID-19. Hospitals have been using their social media websites to provide patients with a constant reminder to put themselves first. And patients react positively to this initiative by showing support on their social media pages and actually coming into the hospital to get themselves treated.


While social media is always a critical communications tool for the healthcare industry, it’s that much more so given the current circumstances. With the right social analytics platform, hospital marketers will have the insights they need to get their pandemic related messaging in front of the the social media audience that needs to see it; a critical first step in getting elective patients to return.

Interested to learn more about how you can utilize social media? Make sure you schedule a demo and see the ListenFirst Social Media Analytics Tool in action!

How The “Stop Hate For Profit” Campaign Is Dramatically Impacting Social Media

As brands have become more vocal about speaking out on Black Lives Matter related conversations and with many of them pausing their Facebook related ad spends for the month of July, as part of the “Stop Hate For Profit” boycott, ListenFirst continues to monitor how these efforts are affecting the social media ecosystem.

Here are our top findings for the week of July 6-12, 2020:

1. Advertisers Continue to Stay Away from Facebook Platforms for Paid Ads

Between July 6-12, 2020 there were -76% less new Facebook and Instagram ads compared to the average amount of new Facebook and Instagram ads during those 7 days between 2018-2019. That’s pretty consistent with what happened during the first 5 days of the month, when there were -83% less new Facebook and Instagram ads compared to the average amount of new Facebook and Instagram ads during July 1-5 between 2018-2019. (Source: ListenFirst Data Co-op)

2. Boycott is Being Talked About Less on Social

There were 62K Tweets mentioning the hashtag #StopHateForProfit between July 1-12, 2020. That’s -57% less than the 146K Tweets that mentioned the #StopHateForProfit hashtag in the previous time period of June 19-30, 2020. That said, while people are talking about it less, the boycott campaign continues with ads down significantly year over year proving that actions speak louder than words.

3. Advertisers’ Organic Posting Is Down Significantly

So far in July compared to the last two years, 485 Top Advertisers brands are posting significantly less organically on all major social networks compared to the past two years. Looking at July 1-12, 2020 compared to the average amount of posts shared on those days during 2018-2019, Top Advertisers posted -41% less Tweets, -25% less posts on Instagram, and -11% less posts on Facebook. That’s consistent with a long term trend that predates the pandemic. 

For instance, during every month between January – June 2020, the volume of posts that Top Advertisers brands shared on social media was down -4.47% to -27.83% compared to the corresponding month in 2019. That’s also true in 2019 when between January – June, the volume of posts Top Advertiser brands shared was down between -5.35% to -18.64% from the amount of posts they shared during the same month in 2018.   

As top brands become more purposeful and targeted in their social media strategy, they’re shifting away from the mentality where posting more of everything is thought of as the only way to improve performance.

4. Black Lives Matter Protests Made a Bigger Impact on Volume of Posts than the Coronavirus

The biggest decrease in the number of new posts Top Advertisers have shared this year occurred in June when, during the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Top Advertiser brands shared 45K new posts on social media, a decrease of -28% from June 2019. By comparison, in March 2020 when the coronavirus was declared a global pandemic and brands were still unsure how to respond, they shared 59K new posts on social media, -14% less than the number of new posts they shared in March 2019. July appears to be a continuation of the Black Lives Matter related slowdown of new posts, as between July 1-12, Top Advertisers shared 19K new posts on social media; a -22% decrease from the number of new posts they shared during July 1-12, 2019.     

5. Advertisers See Success While Cutting Back Organic Posting on Twitter

Though Twitter may be the platform where Top Advertisers have cut back the most in terms of sharing new posts in July, engagement is actually up. From July 1-12, 2020, Top Advertiser brands generated +12% more social engagement on Twitter than they averaged during those days during 2018-2019. In the same time period, Top Advertisers saw a -9% decrease in the amount of social engagement on Instagram, and -3% less engagement on Facebook.

Want to take a deeper dive? Request a demo today!

What The Pandemic Changed AND Reinforces About The Need For Social Media Analytics

This is a guest post by Jason Klein, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, ListenFirst

So far, 2020 has been one of the most challenging years we’ve seen in many of our lifetimes. Between the COVID-19 pandemic, economic downturn, and the social justice crisis, the world at large has been forced to take a step back to truly focus on what matters—professionally, personally, and societally.

Since March, we have seen brands hunker down on highlighting, celebrating, and supporting their communities, using these unprecedented times to foster and build brand equity by showing their human side. As consumer behaviors have shifted, so too has the need for brands to adjust their strategies to reach these audiences.

Additionally, now more than ever, brand marketers’ budgets are being scrutinized and picked apart to truly hone in on data-driven strategies that drive ROI and foster brand loyalty. With that all in mind, here are three key areas that are vital for brand marketers to shift their focus to as they adjust to this new, fragile world we live in.

Digital Transformation

Quarantine and stay-at-home orders have driven consumers to behave in ways the markets have never seen before. While “digital transformation” has been a buzzword and consumer-facing brands’ end goal for decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transition to e-commerce and other digital and social tactics for many brands in a matter of months, if not weeks.

The silver lining is that it has led to more efficient and better positioned companies. For brands, the goal of digital transformation, which had been put off or dragged out for years, has now become mission critical forcing brands to change their business forever. For example, traditional grocery stores like Kroger have turned some of their locations into ‘dark stores’, only allowing customers to place their order online and pick up curbside. With the absence of bars, alcoholic beverage brands have also had to shift over to a digital-first approach to keep and grow their audiences, employing tactics like by partnering with delivery brands like Drizzly or hosting virtual events ranging from wine and beer tastings to happy hours to concerts and more.

Consolidation of Tools

In an uncertain environment, it is critical for brand marketers to make their spend more efficient, and tech-stacks are often the first budget line items to be scrutinized. In Gartner’s Marketing Technology 2019 Survey, marketing leaders reported utilizing only 58% of their martech stack’s potential. At a time like this, that is not going to cut it, as brands are moving away from having several various point solutions and consolidating down to less tools that do more.

Beyond the obvious benefit of cost-savings, by consolidating down to more comprehensive analytics and insights tools, they are also fulfilling their need of consistent reporting, data sources, and nomenclature. As we’ve seen in the past, some of the greatest innovation comes from having resources constrained and cross-company teams rallying behind centralized reporting and insights. 

Social Media Data Is More Valuable Than Ever

Social media analytics and insights has gone from nice-to-have to need-to-have in marketers’ arsenals. Social media is the most active channel of consumer engagement and feedback across all sectors, and marketers who have not tapped into this treasure trove of data are falling behind.

While many of the traditional ways that brands were getting insights have been disrupted (i.e. Nielsen ratings, ad sales, in-store sales, POS purchases, market research, etc.), social media has remained consistent. And, there are more people on social media than ever before—Kantar found that 61% of people are spending more time on social media during the pandemic. Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn have all also reported significant usage increases during the pandemic. Furthermore, consumers are turning to social media en masse to make their shopping decisions—an Absolunet study found that 87% of e-commerce shoppers believe social media helps them make a shopping decision. 

When enterprises truly embrace social data, the applications can be valuable well beyond just the marketing suite. Social media insights can be utilized to justify and power product development and innovation, supply chain insights, communications and community strategies, sales, and more.

Closing Thoughts – Data in Action

At a time when marketers need to demonstrate clear ROI from their efforts to retain budgets and keep their brand afloat, social media offers one of the only environment-proof data sources that brands can rely on. Here are some ways we’ve seen social analytics quantifiably improve performance: 

  • Saving creative budgets: a luxury fashion brand that typically created 6 tiles for their Instagram Stories, saw that audiences were consistently dropping off after the third tile, allowing them to adjust their strategy and save half of their creative budget for that initiative.
  • Understanding audience intent: If an Instagram user saves a post, it signifies that they find the content engaging enough to return to—a far stronger indicator of purchase intent for a product than say impressions or likes. Michael Kors honed in on this metric and found that their most-saved posts had clear messaging showing a single product, providing them with a content template optimized to drive sales. 
  • Gauging viewer interest: As TV and film audiences exhausted their must-watch lists during quarantine, they went on the hunt for new series and movies to discover. By focusing on a metric like organic search (measured by Wikipedia Page Views), media brands can understand which of their content offerings (whether new or catalog) are spiking early consumer interest ahead of larger trends.