Strategy: How Will Brands Stand Out on Social this Black Friday?


TL;DR: Gone are the days when Black Friday meant standing in early morning lines outside of stores. Black Friday has evolved into one elongated month of online sales and savings. As the stakes to maintain a virtual presence grow higher, it’s important that your brand stands out on social media during this month-long digital marketing mayhem.

Black Friday is dead. Or at least the traditional idea of a single day shopping frenzy. Until recently, Black Friday was synonymous with chaotic stampedes in the early morning hours the day after Thanksgiving. However, thanks to the digital age and a couple clicks (or taps), the same unbeatable savings from your favorite brands are available, and conveniently delivered to your doorstep.

In recent years, it has become increasingly common for brands to extend this day of deals into a weekend, week, or even month of sales. This digital phenomenon is proving to be lucrative: Last year’s Black Friday raked in over $3.34 billion from online sales, a 21.6 percent year-over-year spike, according to Adobe. With the switch from storefront to screen, one question stays the same: How can brands standout in the midst of the Friday frenzy?

Here are some success stories from companies who got creative in their Black Friday social media ads:


Probably one of the most memorable social campaigns, REI’s #OptOutside made headlines leading up to Black Friday 2015 by doing the unthinkable:

  • This social media campaign’s purpose was to halt all retail activity, including online sales, on Black Friday while granting a paid day off to all employees. As an outdoor and recreation retail giant, this campaign was a hit. In its debut year, the campaign generated 2.7 billion PR impressions. More than 1.4 million participants took to social media to share how they spent their day in nature.

  • The Takeaway: Don’t sacrifice what your brand identity stands for in the pursuit of sales. Instead, capitalize on it on social media. Humanizing your brand will heighten brand trust with consumers.


Amazon hasn’t taken over the world yet, but it has taken over the month of November with “Lightning Deals.” This campaign highlights various items on the site that go on sale for a limited time every day leading up to Black Friday. With new merchandise going up for sale daily, Amazon needed catchy content on social media to redirect consumers to their site.

  • Reaching a smaller audience is a much more manageable task than attempting to cater to every eye digesting your content, which, in Amazon’s case, is millions.

  • Humor is one of the easiest ways advertisers can pique interest. One of Amazon’s memorable Facebook posts featured a cat in an Amazon box. It’s funny, and sparked conversation from cat lovers on the widely accepted “if I fits, I sits” cat behavior. Most importantly though, it instigated conversation on social media about the brand.

  • The Takeaway: Tapping into passionate, niche groups is a useful tool in your online brand strategy. Using humor in your brand’s advertising is not only memorable, but brings your brand into social conversation.


Target’s social strategy spanned multiple social channels in recent years, each reaching a specific user audience. Target ran canvas ads on Facebook, Instagram ads and also made their own Snapchat filters.

  • The Takeaway: Sometimes quality is better than quantity. Instead of trying to maximize your brand’s reach across all social channels, focus on a few where you already find success. Choosing channels where you already have high engagement rates will be a useful way to build on your already established follower base.

For more on how to use social media to stand out every day and not just on Black Friday, check out our article on Social Listening for Audience-Led Account Planning.