Tentpole Marketing Strategies for Messaging: The Complete Guide

November 5, 2020

By now, your brand should be thinking about a messaging strategy to reach people where they’re most active. According to a survey in our State of Messaging Report, the majority of people message more than they comment on social media, email, and talk on the phone. And to get even more granular, it’s wise to consider tentpole marketing opportunities that make sense for your brand.

Tentpole events are great opportunities to double down on digital marketing efforts in a super short, heavily targeted time span. With so much noise happening, being extremely strategic about timing of your tentpole marketing campaigns can help you reach people in a meaningful way in messaging environments. 

What Do We Mean by Tentpole Marketing?

Traditionally, tentpole events tend to rally around certain points in time, whether that be an annual holiday, like Halloween or Christmas, or more broad cultural or societal events, like Pride Month or World Mental Health Day. The history of tentpole marketing actually traces back to Hollywood and was a term used to describe the hype created ahead of big movie releases. Simply put, it’s a way to get people excited about something specific, whether that be a holiday or a brand event. 

As a brand marketer, you’re probably already very familiar with tentpoles and consider them as part of your broader marketing strategy. But, have you thought about how rallying around a certain tentpole could be wise in a messaging environment? If not, no worries! We already have, so read on.

Tentpole Marketing in Messaging 

People are messaging each other all the time. And they’re discussing a variety of different topics, from what’s on the dinner menu to weekend plans. But, they’re also talking about major events and holidays at specific moments in time. 

Think about your own messages. When do you start to discuss holiday travel plans? If you’re a sports fan, do you discuss big events like the World Series and Super Bowl in group chats? People everywhere are talking about these things too. And at high velocity!

At Holler, we have key insights into what people are talking about and when. For example, chat about football spikes on Super Bowl Sunday, while conversations about costumes steadily rise throughout September and October ahead of Halloween.

It’s clear that people discuss events that are happening in the world in their messages with their closest family and friends.

Messaging is More Important Now Than Ever

In general, digital communication has skyrocketed since the onset of the global pandemic. As people were socially distanced, they leaned on digital tools to stay in touch with those who they were apart from. In March 2020 Holler saw a whopping 30% increase in overall message volume, which correlated to the timing of the strictest stay at home orders, especially in the Northeast.

Throughout the year, holidays and other major tentpole events have been celebrated quite differently than ever before. Traditional celebrations of large gatherings were put on hold, forcing people to stay connected digitally. Messaging has played a major factor in keeping people together while physically apart.

As we continue to navigate through the pandemic, and even as we move on from it, digital communication will remain essential to people everywhere. 

Visual Content is Key in Tentpole Moments

Just as people are discussing hyper-relevant topics in messaging environments, they’re also sharing visual content related to those topics. At Holler, we see visual content trends that correlate directly with tentpole moments.

For example, look at these massive share rates of love content on Valentine’s Day: 

Sticker: "Sammich cutting through a heart", Share rate=22.45%; Sticker: "Valentine's Day word art", Share Rate: 30.21%
*Holler Platform Data Feb 14 2020  

People are craving visual content that helps better express themselves in digital environments. And if content is super relevant for a certain time of year, holidays, and events - it’s used at high volume by the masses. 

Tentpole events present the perfect opportunity for your brand to join conversations at just the right time with relevant content! But, you need to do it in a smart and meaningful way. 

Smart Strategy is Key

Be strategic about tentpoles when considering them as part of your messaging strategy. Don’t just consider aligning your brand with Halloween because it’s a popular holiday even if it doesn’t make sense for you. Remember, when you provide people with content for messaging, the goal is to be useful to the conversation. You are providing tools to make conversations more expressive, and just downright better! Keep that in mind. 

For example (and this is just to make a point - relevancy will depend heavily on your unique marketing strategy!) typically, conversations about Halloween would be the perfect place for a candy brand to get involved, but perhaps less so for a car insurance company. A Super Bowl Sunday campaign would work perfectly for a QSR or beer brand, but may not be the best option for a fashion house.

Quick Tip: Consider all the major tentpole events that occur each year and then think about how your brand could help support conversations happening about them. Which moments do you want to rally around? How does messaging fit into the equation?

Still unsure of where your brand could fit? Don’t worry, at Holler, we’re leaders in Conversational Media, and we know what works for messaging environments. We can help you better understand which tentpole moments would be best for your brand to focus on in the messaging space.

Conversational Media = The various types of media that is leveraged in peer-to-peer messages to enable richer communications between two or more individuals on Conversational Platforms.

Brand Success in Tentpole Marketing

We’ve already worked with brands that have successfully pulled off messaging campaigns based on tentpole events. Most recently, Smirnoff turned to Holler for a July 4th-specific campaign. 

The Goal: Connect Smirnoff RWB with conversations about July 4th

The Execution: We created 3 pieces of Independence Day-specific content featuring Smirnoff Red, White, & Berry and ran the campaign from Friday to Sunday 

The Results: This approach was extremely successful and the Stickers had mega-high share rates because they focused on a specific moment in time with content designed to support what people were discussing, including July 4th weekend plans and celebrations.

Examples of Smirnoff Fourth of July animated stickers

This is just one example of how a brand got involved in a tentpole moment. There are plenty more opportunities to do the same! 

2020 Q4 & 2021 Q1 Calendar

Examples of stickers designed for certain tentpole events

How it Works

Holler has a team of Creative Strategists and Content Creators ready, willing, and able to work with you to bring your brand to life in messaging. To better understand what we do and what it’s like to work with us, check out our Studios Page.

Opportunity Awaits Your Brand

Your brand has the opportunity to reach people in messaging environments during key tentpole marketing moments. If you’re strategic about how to get involved in these relevant conversations, you’ll be successful in meeting people where they’re most active - on digital platforms. 

Interested in learning more about bringing your brand into messaging around a tentpole? Get in touch! 

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