The National Retail Federation has predicted that 2016 will see one of its most successful Halloween holidays ever, with $8.4 billion expected to be spent on Halloween candy and costumes - up 22% from last year. For seasonal retailer Spirit Halloween, prepping for October 31st begins months in advance. More than 20,000 employees are hired on staff in June and over 1,150 storefronts open across the United States. The payoff is all treats and no tricks for business, as the pop-up shop makes its revenue for the year in less than three months.
And while Spirit undoubtedly owes its success to the holiday season, some of its continued relevancy stems from the storefront's social media presence, delighting a growing, ghoulish fan base of all ages with over 2 million Facebook fans, 61K Twitter followers, and 65K Instagram followers.
So what's Spirit doing right when it comes to engaging with its fans that other pop-up shops can emulate for their own social strategy? Take notes, if you dare - much like the brand's tagline, the answer is so much fun it's scary.
1. Pairing movie memes with an engaging call to action
Scroll through any of Spirit's social media feeds and one thing will become abundantly clear: they're all about pop culture memes.
Using memes in social media is not exactly a new concept, but if the image and caption doesn't tie in with your brand, it can come across as clunky and forced.
Be aware of what's trending and use those topics to your pop-up's hashtag advantage.
In a recent Instagram post, Spirit paid tribute to Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas.
A photo posted by Spirit Halloween (@spirithalloween) on Oct 2, 2016 at 6:42pm PDT
The post was made even more relevant given the recent release of the director's latest feature Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children, and the response was overwhelmingly successful - over 7,000 fans liked the image and more than 300 fans replied.
2. Embracing an interactive side to costume photos
One of the cardinal rules of social media has long been the better the image, the more favorable the response from users. It would be easy for a pop-up shop to rely on high-resolution shots of models dressed up in costumes or snap a couple behind the scenes photos from around the store, but Spirit plays up posts by adding in an interactive aspect.
Curious as to what all comes inside plastic bagged costume sets? Costumes are given the flat lay treatment - photography where apparel and props are styled on a backdrop - with images and GIFs across all social platforms to showcase the costume and its accessories. For images that do use photo shoots of models - like the below classic Joker costume shot - the caption encourages fans to check out an included link to a makeup tutorial to complete the look, merging video with imagery in a subtle way.
A photo posted by Spirit Halloween (@spirithalloween) on Sep 20, 2016 at 2:59pm PDT
3. Putting a twist on social platforms they don't have a presence on
A huge component of Halloween's billion dollar sales success lies in couples' costumes, and Spirit plays up that aspect of #relationshipgoals to social media platforms where they don't have a presence.
A photo posted by Spirit Halloween (@spirithalloween) on Sep 30, 2016 at 6:16pm PDT
Complete with mockup Tinder profiles posted on Instagram and Facebook, Spirit utilizes its call to action once more to have fans to chime in with whether they would swipe left or right on the monsters seeking a mate. For any pop-up feeling the pressure to have a social media presence across every platform - with no plan on how to sustain it beyond the three-month mark - this is a smart, and simplified, strategy.
While the social media strategy for a Halloween pop-up storefront may look like it only requires a few months of frequent posting, beware. For a pop-up to succeed, editorial calendar planning needs to be prepped in advance. Take note of hashtag holidays, trending world topics, and what's buzzworthy on the entertainment and pop culture circuit year round. From #NationalCoffeeDay to the 2016 Election, there's something for every pop-up to put their own twist on and share with their social audience.