No matter the season, the best social media campaign will echo your audience’s values, offer a fresh take on a familiar product, service or industry and create a memorable brand experience.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’re serving up some of the best Thanksgiving social media posts in recent memory. And we’re sharing advice on how to (pumpkin) spice up your content marketing.

Consider this guide your recipe for social media success.

  1. Embracing Friendsgiving With Target
  2. A Whole Foods Holiday Collaboration
  3. REI’s ‘How to: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal’
  4. Coca-Cola: More Than Just Carbonation
  5. Butterball’s ‘Time Is of the Essence’
  6. The Turkey Hotline You Never Knew You Needed from Jennie-O
  7. food52 ‘SIDES Week’

1. Embracing Friendsgiving With Target

The reality of Thanksgiving for many younger generations is that they don’t necessarily live close to family and they’re less likely to have time off work. And, hey, not to mention — messy family situations, politics and a pandemic might not make a trek back to your hometown the most “festive” idea you’ve ever had.

That’s the true joy of Friendsgiving: you, your friends, vibes.

Target recognizes that with their Pinterest post encouraging followers to “make your Friendsgiving delicious & unforgettable.”

Why It Works

Target leans into one of its core customer bases’ favorite pastimes: celebrating Thanksgiving with like-minded friends instead of family. And the retailer links readers to a full-length article complete with five Friendsgiving ideas, including potluck pro tips you can share with your friend group.

While your parents and extended family may traditionally have a stranglehold on what food can be served and at whose house and at what time, you can always do your own thing for Thanksgiving. That’s exactly what nearly 70% of consumers aged 13-38 prefer, according to research from Sabra.

Source: Sabra.com

2. A Whole Foods Holiday Collaboration

Celebrated chef and winner of Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” Chloe Coscarelli partnered with Whole Foods to deliver a twist on your favorite holiday dishes, captured in an Instagram Reel.

Using vegan spins on foods like casserole, stuffing, roast, gravy and more, Coscarelli created an exclusive to-go bundle for Whole Foods shoppers looking for ethical and tasty Thanksgiving alternatives.

Plus, she unboxed the food and offered additional pro tips for garnishing and pairing each dish.

Why It Works

What’s great about this post is that it checks a lot of social media boxes. It’s:

  • Co-branded.
  • Influencer-driven.
  • Topically and socially aware.

It’s also very visual, personal and tactical. Viewers can gather interesting tips to apply to their food in the future, be health-conscious around the holidays and avoid a messy kitchen.

3. REI’s ‘How to: Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal’

Outdoor apparel brand REI knows their audience. And just because the holidays are often associated with hygge indoor settings doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of time for camping, hiking and recreational adventures.

By combining Tasty’s up-close food-prep style of video with simple audio and captions, REI empowers lovers of the outdoors to make a trendy seasonal treat in minutes.

Why It Works

REI’s simple how-to video blends in perfectly with the rest of its Instagram grid, entrenching its overall social media aesthetic and adding a bit of media diversity to its profile.

While not explicitly Thanksgiving-focused, this social media post leverages a lot of the themes of the season: pumpkin spice, cool weather and full bellies.

4. Coca-Cola: More Than Just Carbonation

People cook with Coca-Cola and use the bottles for decoration?

Apparently so.

At least that’s the message the beverage maker conveys in its Thanksgiving campaign on Pinterest.

In a truly resourceful example of squeaking every last bit of marketing value out of your product, Coca-Cola prompts fans to make sweet potatoes, butternut squash and more. Children can also turn each bottle into a colorful turkey. And the company ensures its product placement is perfect for each pin.

Why It Works

Whereas some of the companies on this list are explicitly food brands with close ties to Thanksgiving, Coca-Cola isn’t really. That doesn’t stop the carbonated soft drink manufacturer from elbowing its way into the Thanksgiving cheer.

With creative displays of tangential use cases and simple product-based recipes, Coca-Cola uses their social posts to solidify their brand image and brand association with all things Thanksgiving.

5. Butterball’s ‘Time Is of the Essence’

Turkey seller Butterball is probably more excited about Thanksgiving than your average brand. Thanksgiving day is not just a one-off affair — the leadup and the leftovers are just as important.

In this Instagram post, the company slaps their brand colors and logo on a simple November calendar to emphasize their humorous side. The meme offers a change from Butterball’s conventional marketing style — heavy on hi-res photography and juicy turkeys — while also intuitively promoting the urgency of their campaign.

The countdown to Thanksgiving begins early and Butterball is perfectly positioned to capitalize on sales.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Butterball (@butterballturkey)


Why It Works

Butterball has stretched the definition of a holiday season marketing campaign. In Butterball’s universe, Thanksgiving is a month-long holiday with loved ones, pumpkin pie and gravy — there’s no need to contain turkey day to the fourth Thursday of November.

This post builds excitement and appreciation for Thanksgiving, while at the same time setting the stage for continued Thanksgiving reminders even after the holiday has passed. There are still plenty of leftovers!

6. The Turkey Hotline You Never Knew You Needed from Jennie-O

Not to be outdone by Butterball, turkey seller Jennie-O is using Twitter to publish insightful commentary on modern Thanksgiving realities while giving followers next steps for engaging their brand.

Case in point: In one brief Twitter post, Jennie-O is able to pack in:

  • A useful holiday message to customers.
  • A hotline to get all the Thanksgiving help you need.
  • A link to more information.
  • A branded graphic featuring their product in front of happy families.
  • A key stat that acknowledges the current state of Thanksgiving guidelines.

Why It Works

Jennie-O delivers a multimedia Twitter post that does more than just provide an insatiable image of its product. It keeps its brand front and center while touching on the changing nature of Thanksgiving as a time for gathering — some folks will stay home and celebrate online.

By acknowledging this subset of its audience, Jennie-O diverges from traditional Thanksgiving messaging without straying too far from its overall business goals: higher sales.

7. food52 ‘SIDES Week’

What do you get when you stir together a community of foodies, influencers and seasonal recipes?

A delectable social media campaign from food52.

As the name suggests, the company got its start sharing weekly recipes to followers. This holiday season, food52 has embarked on a “SIDES Week,” in which a new recipe of Thanksgiving dinner sides is posted and tagged to contributors.

 

 
 
 
 
 
View this post on Instagram
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

A post shared by Food52 (@food52)

If you’re looking to expand your Thanksgiving plates with some foodie-approved sides or just wanting to salivate at casserole, you’ve come to the right place.

Why It Works

Bringing a stellar side to Thanksgiving dinner is a great way to one-up your annoying aunt and express gratitude to the glory of a huge meal. And food52 has given you just that opportunity.

By staying true to its roots and posting weekly recipes, food52 delivers brand consistency. Putting a Thanksgiving spin on their namesake is a no-brainer this time of year. Followers of the food brand know they can trust the quality and the source of food52 recipe ideas, and they can engage with like-minded commenters in a meaningful, supportive way.

An online community extends the reach of your brand voice, and it defines your image on social media. And that’s something food52 can be thankful for, because they’ve cultivated a passionate and polite following during a time of giving and gratitude.

B2C vs B2B Social Media Pointers

Thanksgiving in today’s climate is not as celebrated or lucrative as Halloween or Christmas. In fact, when compiling this list, it was clear that many of the world’s top brands skip right over Thanksgiving in their content marketing and social media campaigns — they jump straight to Black Friday and Christmas.

This reality offers insight into whether it even makes sense to devote marketing dollars to Thanksgiving depending on your business and industry.

B2C

Thanksgiving is inherently a consumer holiday, and many B2C brands run a specific sale, giveaway or special event to drive conversions. But be mindful that:

  • The holiday season aligns with higher levels of loneliness and anxiety. Comforting, positive messaging is important.
  • Consumers celebrate Thanksgiving in lots of different ways, including virtually or with friends, so don’t make blanket statements that might diminish your reach.
  • Not everyone is meticulously planning a holiday meal weeks in advance. Some will buy a turkey day of! Offer followers the ability to engage your brand online and in-person at all times of day depending on where they are in the funnel.

B2B

Historically, B2B brands are less active on platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. LinkedIn and Twitter are more their playing field. So:

  • Know your audience’s preferred social channels.
  • Don’t use every holiday as an excuse to post content that’s not really relevant to your business or your customers’ interests. You don’t have to have an opinion on everything.
  • Craft content that is educational and empathetic — not opportunistic.

How Will Your Brand Say ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ This Season?

In developing your Thanksgiving post strategy, think about what messages your audience members really want and need to hear during this complicated time of year.

With that as your guide, you’ll be able to create posts your followers will gobble up.

Editor’s Note: Updated November 2021

Mike O'Neill is a writer, editor and content manager in Chicago. When he's not keeping a close eye on Brafton's editorial content, he's auditioning to narrate the next Ken Burns documentary. All buzzwords are his own.