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Your Thanksgiving Marketing by Targeting the Moments

Add Some Umph! to Your Thanksgiving Marketing by Targeting Moments

Earlier this year, Facebook IQ released Moments That Bring People Closer Together, a report detailing some of the benefits of targeting moments in your marketing. Since the holiday season is packed with moments, we wanted to create a post that walks you through the utter genius of targeting moments as part of your Christmas and Thanksgiving marketing strategy.

Helloooo, Winter Holidays!

As of this writing, we’re just a few days from Veteran’s Day and Single’s Day… which means Thanksgiving is almost here (yay!!), followed by Christmas then New Year’s (and the resolutions that come with the New Year) and everything basically starts all over again!

Thanks for the calendar, Justine.

Okay. Okay. I’ll tell you why I mentioned all that stuff: To nudge you a little because you still have plenty of time to plan a “moments campaign” for this holiday season. This strategy works regardless of the holiday (as you’ll see from the examples we use), but since we’re so close to Thanksgiving, it makes sense to focus on marketing to Thanksgiving moments.

Why Choose Moments?

Really, moments are what we remember. People, feelings, places. Especially if you’re talking about the winter holiday season, creating meaningful moments is one of the things people really want from their holiday celebrations.

Thanksgiving is one of those events that can serve as the birthplace of a thousand little moments… from the moment your spouse comes up with the perfect solution to your seating chart ordeal. Or being inspired by a nonprofit’s social media campaign to do some social good instead of shop on Black Friday. Or the look of wonder in the eyes of a young cousin who just found out you work with real social media influencers.

Moments are personal, they’re precious, they’re fleeting… and as a marketer, it’s your job to take advantage of them. Haha.

The cool thing about using moments to build your campaigns is that everybody has them. Even when we feel like our moments are so special and so unique, most of them aren’t particularly unique to the human experience.

Anyone who’s ever been captivated by the beauty across the room understands the intimacy (and possible life-changing significance) of a moment. And coincidentally, the storied “across a crowded room” moment happens a lot.

Any new mom who’s ever fought through 20 hours of labor then fallen head over heels with the cherub-faced baby who made his way into the world understands the silent commitment to unconditional, sacrificial love. Again, a beautiful moment… but not in the least bit new to humanity, even if it’s new to you, Mama.

Moments are the individual interpretation of common experiences. When others talk about moments we’ve experienced, so strong is our connection to those moments that we think: wow, that’s SO me!

And that’s true – it’s totally you… but it’s also thousands of other people’s deals, too. But then that’s the good thing about moments. They are predictable in that they always come, and everybody can relate.

Tag yourself! I’m the dodger… just like everybody in the comments. Webcomic_name is a series of comics based on relatable moments. They’re so simple, they’re genius! /// Source: On Instagram

Be honest. You already have a pretty good idea of how Thanksgiving dinner will go this year. You know what foods will end up on the table, and which relatives will cook which dishes. You’re already expecting that conversation about politics, or that aunt asking about your love interest, circa 2018.

Now that you’re thinking about it, you probably have a lot of moments that connect you to Thanksgiving. Cool. Keep those moments in mind as you read this article.

Moments will allow you to understand what matters to your audience. AND tailoring your marketing efforts to specific moments will make your content more relevant to large swathes of your target audience. Now, let’s figure out how to “discover” moments.

How to Dig Up Those Golden Moments

At this point, you may be thinking, “Fine. Tell me the 10 biggest moments and we’ll build campaigns around them!”. First of all, you’re cute… and that’s not how this works. But I get why you went there.

Most marketers are accustomed to building campaigns around big events like holidays, big sporting events, birthdays, important life events.

With moments, though, you’re not really trying to be one more option in the mad rush before the holiday. You’re becoming the brand who gets it. And I used the word “who” there to drive home the point that you’re becoming an ally, a member of a larger community. You’re humanizing your brand by simply understanding what that picture of morning coffee really means in people’s lives, and why there are 117 million posts on Instagram tagged #coffee.

This is a screengrab of the Top Posts showing up on Instagram under #morningcoffee as of 3:48pm on Nov 5, 2019

Leveraging moments allows your brand to create an almost never-ending string of what Facebook IQ calls “category entry points”. Being tagged in an Instagram post as the cafe at which a particular #bosslady haves her morning coffee because you happen to be the only spot nearby that offers a shot of MCT Oil for all the biohackers and keto lovers out there. Such a post and others like it can offer your brand ongoing benefits.

During the holidays, people want to have their entertainment and communication needs met as they’re taking part in their regular activities, creating moments. People already want content to consume and share. This is your opportunity to create some and make it relevant.

Let’s do a quick exercise to get your ideas flowing. After this, I think you’ll have a pretty good understanding of how to market to the moments.

Step 1: Think about an action around Thanksgiving

Okay. For this exercise, we’re choosing the process (because it is that) of making Thanksgiving dinner, and focusing specifically on the person who does most of the cooking (turkey, major sides… that kinda thing). You can choose another action if you want like decorating the tree or decorating for the bigger dinner or finding the perfect ensemble for a couple of rowdy toddlers…

One thing though: Don’t base your choice on whether or not you can work in your brand or product. Just think about moments in general. Maybe you’ll discover new opportunities for your brand!

Step 2: Brainstorm a few key moments about that action you think people could latch on to

List your ideas in a single document / medium that your entire team can use. If you’re using post-its, write each moment in a post it. If you’re not, just write down a list on a sheet of paper. Getting back to our example.

The moments we listed are:

  • Deciding to cook for Thanksgiving
  • Creating Pinterest boards for inspiration
  • Saving recipes
  • Baking the turkey (and not forgetting that you’re in the process of baking a turkey)
  • Getting overwhelmed because it’s too much work
  • Getting help
  • Deciding on which recipes to cook… or scrap
  • Getting a recipe wrong/failing at a recipe
  • The moment where everybody likes what you cooked
  • Eating leftovers

You can write as much or as little as you want. The idea is to identify all those moments that matter! If you’re doing this exercise with a team, you’ll notice that people will essentially have the same moments top-of-mind.

Step 3: Map your customer’s journey

Next, put your moments in chronological order from start to finish. For each moment, decide if it’s positive, negative or neutral. Think of it as a kind of sliding scale. If a moment falls more to the positive side, position it a little higher than more negative moments. Check the diagram below so you get a better idea of what I’m talking about here.

Here, it’s very important that you think about your audience. Maybe you don’t like cooking but your target audience of foodies, food bloggers, food experimenters, nutritionists, and chefs does. If that’s the case, you would count cooking as positive.

Step 4: Choose your moments

Now, it’s time to find some creative opportunities for your brand to chime in on the conversation around these moments. If the moment is positive, you can join to celebrate or congratulate. When the moment is negative, you can join to solve a problem.

There will be moments that will be more obvious for your brand. If you’re a catering service, you know what to choose. But, what if you’re a clothing brand? Which moment would you make your campaign around if you had to?

Assuming that you’re feeling positive, remember people love connecting (or reconnecting) on happy times. For example, you can be the brand that celebrates the one daughter or son who’s taking on the holiday cooking. Heck, I’d personally love if a brand gave recognition to all those solo cookers.

Imagine you’re creating a campaign for a bookstore. Which moments would you choose and how would you take advantage of them? You could start creating Pinterest boards with recipe books, for example. Or a cooler example, recipes based on books!

Also, think beyond the obvious.

Maybe you’re a wine brand and you want to tap into the negative moments. Instead of suggesting that your customer has a glass of wine if they’re feeling overwhelmed (which would be too obvious), you can create a campaign explaining how the resveratrol contained in the wine helps your heart get stronger! You can even be cheesy and say you want to make the hearts of your customers stronger so they can give all the love they have during the holidays. There are tons of reasons for wine lovers to drink more wine. Find them.

The point here is: have fun with it! If you don’t find the perfect moment right away, keep looking.


You know how we are about campaign examples. We put together some build-up moments, Big Day a.k.a. Turkey Day moments, and after Thanksgiving moments. PLUS, actionable ideas you can use to start creating content and campaigns around Thanksgiving moments. Take these ideas and run with them. With some tweaks, they can be your next Thanksgiving campaign!

I’ve taken some trends from Pinterest’s 2019 trends for you to have even more useful information in each moment.

Tips for Using Relatable Moments as Thanksgiving Marketing Inspo

Build-up Moments

Build-up moments are all about the planning. One of the best places to be if you’re appealing to a planner mindset is Pinterest. Months before Thanksgiving, pinners start gathering holiday inspiration on boards for everything, from food to outfits. And, if you’re thinking you’re already too late, don’t worry! They keep pinning up until the big day, pinning more as the date is closer.

(Instagram’s saved posts are also a great tool. Encourage your followers to save posts for their Thanksgiving planning.)

#1 Traveling for Thanksgiving

So, last year, 79 million people in the US were expected to travel for Thanksgiving. So yeah… that’s a lot of people. While 30 million people traveled by plane, more than 48 million took road trips. According to Pinterest’s 2019 trends, the number of people searching for bus travel is increasing.

Here are some ideas to inspire your own brainstorming session:

  • Create Thanksgiving playlists like this one from Anthropologie and share them with your social media followers (make it a good one though)
  • Make a Pinterest board with quick reads for short flights or drives
  • Publish an album with the best binge-watchable series for a commute, from short commutes like just taking the subway to a relative’s house to longer commutes like taking an 5-hour flight
  • Make a list of road trip games like this one. Of course, include your brand in some of them (if it doesn’t seem too forced).
  • Have an expert give advice on video to prepare your car for driving long hours; share them in a timely way so they’re useful
  • Make a board on Pinterest with car-friendly snacks (the ones that won’t make the car or any other vehicle stink or get dirty)
  • Create compelling images for Pinterest (that you can surely use in other platforms) with ideas for zero waste travel like this one from Sunday in Wonderland. Waste travel? Because people have searched for it on Pinterest 74% more than last year

#2 Choosing recipes for Thanksgiving

Whether it is to bring your own dish to the party or to cook the whole dinner, planning what to serve during Thanksgiving is a major task. Of course, there are classics that we’ll always want to have BUT each year presents another opportunity to try something new. Who knows, maybe in 10 years everybody will be expecting a recipe you cook for the first time this year!

And, if you’re already choosing recipes for Thanksgiving, don’t forget the people that are opting for healthier diets or are allergic to something. Vegetarian and vegan recipes are something to think about for Thanksgiving. Or, did you know there’s a pegan diet now? Part paleo, part vegan? Oh, and also plan some alcohol-free drinks, since sober living is something people are searching for this year.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Create downloadable, printable shopping lists
  • Make a tournament bracket so people can choose their favorite Thanksgiving dishes… make it just for fun! Also, you can share the your recipes along the way. An easy way to do this is through Instagram stories polls or Facebook polls. Have a deadline for each vote… you’ll have to do this with many days of anticipation depending on the dishes participating
  • Create Pinterest boards with international recipes for Thanksgiving. Like I just read that people are looking for chayote recipes (which is a common Mexican vegetable that I happen to hate) and they love it. As Americans are moving to other countries and people from other countries are celebrating Thanksgiving in the US, this is a great opportunity to start mixing it up when it comes to food!
  • Everybody is looking for Thanksgiving dinner ideas on Pinterest, so give it a twist by sharing vegan/vegetarian swaps for Thanksgiving recipes. Check this infographic from PETA. Notice how they mention brands… this could make for some interesting brand collaborations, too.
Source: We grabbed this little sweetie from PETA’s official Pinterest account.

#3 Holiday dread – the family gathering

Most people can relate to the idea of having that one relative who shows up for EVERYTHING and who grates on you like nails on a chalkboard… Bratty younger cousins, an inquisitive (read nosy) aunt, a brash uncle who won’t shut up.

Yeah. Been there.

I just googled “anxiety meeting relatives” and it drew 22 million results. So, people are searching for tips. Being a bit anxious about this day is just part of Thanksgiving.

Depending on the personality of your brand you can have a silly, serious, hopeful, or ironic take on this topic. Just be sure your content provides value to your audience in some way, and that you’re not just ranting about distant relatives who won’t get over that feud that happened 15 years ago.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Encourage people to share their worst holiday experiences and have an expert give tips on how to deal with them. Or go the irreverent route and have people post a meme that represents their most recent Thanksgiving experience.
  • Create a holiday survival guide with a focus on taking care of your mental health. It can also be a round-up of others’ guides, like this one. This can be shared as a series of small tips on Facebook or a Pinterest board with all this information
  • Create a holiday self-care challenge. This challenge can start days before the Big Day. Make a list of easy prompts people can do. Of course, promote a hashtag so people participating in the challenge can share their own ways of taking care of themselves through Instagram or Twitter, for example
  • Think of how your brand can help your audience relax… a lot of things are out of our hands even if we prepare. Birchbox once published a post that recommended products based on the type of Thanksgiving the customer was expecting to have. Kind of a cool idea.

Thanksgiving Day Moments

If you decide on a during-Thanksgiving moment consider that people are used to having an immediate response when they need something, especially during the holidays when so many things can turn out bad. So, for example, if your brand provides some kind of product used to cook and people have questions while they’re doing so, they’ll expect answers as fast as possible.

#1 First time hosting Thanksgiving dinner

This is a rite of passage. Once you’ve hosted a Thanksgiving dinner, you’re a true adult. There are SO many things involved in being a host for the first time. For this moment, I’m going to assume all the things that have to be before Thanksgiving are already done. Let’s just focus on Thanksgiving Day.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Cleaning hacks for lazy hosts or hosts who didn’t have enough time to prepare. Share shameless tips like this one from my mom: clean only where your mother-in-law would see, the rest, keep it as always. Haha. Don’t know where to start? Just start pinning the best cleaning hacks to your own Pinterest board
  • Use Instagram Stories to share quick and easy drink recipes (with ingredients you might have at home, nothing fancy) to prepare if the dinner gets delayed -which can always happen if it’s your first time
  • Think of all those things that can go wrong while cooking dinner (like something getting burnt or forgetting to add an ingredient) and give tips on how to save recipes. Check this infographic for more inspiration
  • Share tips to relax during the Thanksgiving Dinner if you’re hosting: respiration exercises, yoga poses you can do in the bathroom, quick pampering routines, combinations of essential oils to keep you relaxed, etc. Pinterest would be great for this!
  • Ask for advice from your audience on Instagram stories, then turn the advice into shareable content like this infographic from Pictoline. For this infographic, they asked their followers to tell them how to say hangover in different parts of Latin America, these were the answers:
Even though it’s all Spanish, nobody refers to it the same way, funny, no? Source: Pictoline

#2 Thanksgiving traditions

Each family has their own Thanksgiving tradition. Some just say what they’re thankful for before eating something, others cook together, and some play games. As different as the traditions can be, it all comes down to a single thing: spending time with the ones you love and thank for their presence in your life.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Write a fun tutorial on how to give the ultimate toast of thanks… or maybe record someone and share a video on tips to give the ultimate toast
  • Make a round-up of apps that you can use to play games with your family (maybe also make a brand collaboration with said apps)
  • Ask your audience ahead of time what traditions they have for Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Day, share the best and most creative ones so people can start them. You can even share a super-specific themed tradition for our audience, like this blog post on how to start a Friends Thanksgiving Episode tradition, from A Modern Homestead:

#3 Not being with your family on Thanksgiving day

I will always remember the first time I couldn’t spend a holiday with my family. It was a bittersweet moment. One part of me was happy I was going to spend the day the way I wanted to, without having to face the anxiousness I mentioned before. I felt like a true grown-up. The other part missed my mom’s dishes, my sister’s hugs, my niece’s jokes, my entire family’s presence. I felt like a child lost without her mom.

Ideas for your brand

  • Start pinning to self-care board with ideas to selfishly pamper yourself: decadent dessert recipes, lush bath bombs, DIY body scrubs, relaxing yoga routines, inspiring podcasts
  • If you’re a local brand, be part of a community tradition and promote it for all those who can’t make it home for Thanksgiving. There are a lot of communities that have volunteering programs during Thanksgiving, for example. This could be the start of a new Thanksgiving tradition!
  • A lot of people who can’t go home, celebrate with their friends, hence the Friendsgiving name. Create a Pinterest board with cheap Friendsgiving decorations. Check this pin by Inspired Her Way to get a better idea

#4 Wanting to make a good first impression on your partner’s family

There’s something to be said for irreverence, that’s for sure. I’ve got a really funny one for you.

So, you may know what it’s like to meet your partner’s family for the first time. That, all by itself, can be A LOT of pressure, especially if you’re meeting them during a “big deal” time like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Just ahead of the 2016 holiday season, Poo~Pourri released this work of art out to the world called How to Poop at a Party. #InstantClassic

The video is both laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-worthy, and dreams up a familiar situation in which a woman meeting her boyfriend’s family for the first time at a big family dinner has to deal with some… pressing stomach issues. Seriously, watch the video. It’s hilarious, and it capitalizes, on a moment to which we can all relate (having to “go” when you’re around strangers), but when it’s happening to you, you legitimately feel like you’re the only person in the world to ever experience it.

The video brilliantly sets up a situation that’s socially awkward, and provides Poo-Pourri, a before-you-go toilet spray that minimizes and even eliminates the smell of… well… someone eliminating.

Post-Thanksgiving Moments

The thing about holidays like Thanksgiving is that even the most trivial moments have a new meaning just because it’s a holiday: commuting, watching a movie, eating, catching up with the family.

#1: Eating the leftovers

Leftovers are one of my favorite parts of the holidays. A friend and I have even joked about having a food truck with leftover dishes (don’t steal my idea! Or do it but let me know where your food truck is). Leftovers = everybody gets to eat just their favorites.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Create a leftover timeline: for how long can you keep different kinds of leftovers in the fridge? Post each dish in your stories at the time it should be eaten so it’s still good… people will love the reminders!
  • Inspire a movement to share leftovers with neighbors or people in need
  • Create a Pinterest board with creative ideas to pack leftovers
  • What to do with the leftovers. Ok, I know… eat them. But, can we have some different ideas? A great one comes from Boursin. This gourmet cheese brand came up with the idea of creating toast recipes using their cheeses and leftovers. It increased its brand awareness by 35 percent!

#2 Watching family-friendly movies

Did you know people look for family-friendly movies during Thanksgiving? Once the holidays start approaching, families flock to social media to look for the perfect movies to watch after the big day. People in the US mainly use Facebook and Instagram to discover new movies, they also use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to evaluate them afterward (like that friend in everybody’s timeline that always has an opinion about a movie).

The day after Thanksgiving is perfect for a movie marathon. Being lazy all day long is a great way to decompress from the stress of the day before.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Make Instagram stories with the perfect accessories to have a comfy marathon: blankets, cool comfy outfits, etc.
  • Create an album on Facebook with perfect snacks to watch movies (maybe include leftovers!)
  • Make a suggested list of movies and then live tweet your experience (as a business) while watching it. Use an #OfficialHashtag, of course. Be sure to mention where these movies can be found (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc.)
  • Make a bucket list of Thanksgiving things to do, movies to watch included, an idea we kinda stole from the Hallmark Channel Pinterest account that you can see below. The cool thing about this bucket list is that instead of directly asking you to watch a movie, they suggest you make something related to the movie

#3 Christmas decorating

Is it too soon to start thinking about decorating for Christmas? Why would you even ask? It’s never to early to start feeling the Christmas spirit. One of the most common things people do after Thanksgiving is to start decking the halls. It makes sense, the family is together and everybody can weigh in.

Ideas for your brand:

  • Create a Pinterest board where you show ideas on how to turn Thanksgiving decorations into Christmas decorations (like those pinecones you can frost and they automatically are Christmasy)
  • Share Christmas decorating playlists. My favorite, this one that has NSYNC songs… bye, bye, bye Thanksgiving!
  • Start preparing for the next Hallowthanksmas, the period between Halloween and Christmas (or even new year!). You’ll have at least 10 months to prepare your brand for the most wonderful time of the year.


I know you already have a ton of moments in your mind that your brand can use to make a connection with your audience. Which moments will you use and how will you use them? Share your thoughts!


It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

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