Black Friday 2016 vs 2017: How the internet reacted

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  • November 27, 2017
David White

David White

Head of PR

Black Friday has fast become one of the most important trading days of the year, with consumers kickstarting their Christmas shopping by taking advantage of discounted offers both in stores and online.

In 2016, the IMRG stated that £6.45bn was spent online during the Black Friday period (Monday 21-Monday 28 November), with £7.42bn expected in 2017 (a 15% increase from 2016).

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that businesses are looking to capitalise on the pre-Christmas excitement. Companies like Amazon now specifically advertise their ‘Black Friday Week’ offers, with many other retailers following suit. Across the country, millions of pounds are dedicated to marketing campaigns advertising the shopping event of the year.

But how do shoppers actually react to the retail frenzy? We wanted to look beyond the sales figures and find out how Black Friday 2017 really compared to 2016 in terms of consumer attitudes and activity.

We analysed thousands of social media posts, editorial articles, YouTube videos, and forums via Crimson Hexagon to see how the consumer really felt about their Black Friday deals!

Black Friday conversations

When we compare the number of posts online surrounding Black Friday, it’s clear that 2017 has been more topical, with 422,610 posts being placed online compared to 309,813 in 2016.

Graph showing number of social posts about Black Friday

By exploring a little further, we can gain insight into what channel is best to invest Black Friday advertising in.

Where to invest in Black Friday social media activity

In 2017, Twitter took a large majority of the conversation (80%). This is down 9% from 2016, but still remains the most popular channel. Instagram tripled in Black Friday posts over the past year, moving from 4% of the conversation up to 12% in 2017.

Simply put, Instagram and Twitter are proven leaders in Black Friday engagement, meaning they might be the most prominent channels to invest any Black Friday activity in.

2016

2016 Black Friday social media activity

2017

2017 Black Friday social media activity

Gaining links from the Black Friday conversation

Just like any seasonal event, Black Friday opens up a world of link opportunities for brands. The charts above show that 3% of the Black Friday conversations comes from news sources (the place where you will be focussing your link activity on).

While this number may seem low, in 2017 this equalled over 13,000 editorial posts, meaning it’s still worthwhile for brands to pursue news links.

After analysing Black Friday link opportunities, we put together a few tips which could help to increase your back link profile and gain links from national media:

  1. You can focus on products!

This normally goes against everything we recommend when building links. The more promotional you are, the harder it is to gain links as it can be deemed more as traditional marketing. However, for Black Friday, feel free to share your discounts with the press – and if they are good enough, expect to see those links back!

  1. Live Blogs

On the day itself, almost every national media opens up a live blog, continually covering the day’s events. Journalists are actively looking for the best deals, funny stories, and campaigns to talk about. Contact them with your campaigns or products. If what you have to offer is interesting, you will see the links flow in.

Black Friday headlines from The Sun

Black Friday headlines from The Independent

Black Friday headlines from The Evening Standard

  1. If what you have isn’t interesting, don’t bother

It doesn’t matter if you have created a campaign or slashed the prices of your products. The same rules of digital PR apply: if the campaign is not newsworthy, or the discounts are not the best, then save your time and effort as links unfortunately won’t happen and, at worst, you could annoy your media contacts.

Most shared URLS

When analysing the Black Friday conversation in 2017, we can see which brands won the conversation on Twitter by looking at the most shared URLs.

As you can imagine, this is a mixture of competitions and products. We compiled a top ten list below, with some surprising outcomes:Most shared URL in Black Friday conversation on TwitterAs a singular post, B&M win with a staggering 6,055 shares, followed by Very who actually come in second, fourth, and ninth place. It’s worth noting that the above will include paid posts, but it would appear that competitions are being used by brands to separate themselves from the competition when talking about Black Friday.

Positive sentiment is on the increase

The sentiment surrounding Black Friday conversations has changed only very slightly over the past year:

  • 28% of posts were positive (compared to 24% in 2016)
  • 12% of posts were negative (compared to 14% in 2016)
  • 60% of posts were neutral (compared to 61% in 2016)

2017 sentiment

2017 Black Friday sentiment on social

2016 Sentiment

2016 Black Friday sentiment on social

Key Black Friday 2017 takeaways

Black Friday continues to grow year on year for ecommerce sites, both in terms of conversations and revenue. As Twitter remains the dominant leader in Black Friday engagement, we should look to that channel when assigning budget. However, we expect to see Instagram increase year on year as consumers engage more with visual and easily digestible content.

Black Friday should now be one of the main focuses of your marketing calendar, with discounts being released a minimum of one week prior to the day in order to keep up with the increased length of time discounts are offered by other retailers.

Black Friday, similar to Cyber Monday, now operates mainly online. As consumers become less patient and more demanding, companies need to continually monitor the conversation in order to be able to capitalise on this great event.

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