​Twitter data shows that back-to-school shopping actually starts in July, and brands can't afford to put off strategies to the last minute if they want to increase conversions.

​School’s out for summer, but that doesn’t mean brands selling classroom supplies can sit back and enjoy the warmer weather. Twitter data shows that back-to-school shopping spikes around Labor Day, but the actual start to seasonal shopping begins as early as July.

Marketers must think about building and implementing social media marketing strategies to make the most of the second half of 2013. Twitter notes that its network serves 12.5 million educators, 11.5 million parents with kids 17 or younger and more than 1 million college students. It’s clear brands can use this network to grow their audience, engage prospects and retain customers’ attention well beyond the start of fall semester.

Struggles to bridge social and search for conversion

While most organizations have SEO content programs and social marketing initiatives in place, just as many struggle to connect the two for greater lead-gen synergy. Twenty-four percent say social media integration is the most effective SEO tactic to achieve marketing objectives, according to Ascend2 data. However, 34 percent percent also say its the most difficult practice to execute on a regular basis.

Twenty-four percent say social media integration is the most effective SEO tactic to achieve marketing objectives

In a recent blog post, Twitter’s Vertical Marketing expert Haresh Kumar offers tips for brands gearing up for the back-to-school rush. Kumar suggests companies use July as the jumping-off point for their end-of-year marketing ventures by ​building their followers now in select verticals, so promotional events reach the right people when it comes time to shop for supplies.

He writes, “Grow your followers now so that your brand can head into competitive shopping moments like back to school, Halloween, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the holidays with as broad and engaged audience as possible.” Using blog content as fodder for engagement can show consumers the value of connecting with brands on Twitter even when seasonal deals aren’t in play. This also drives social traffic back to branded web pages, connecting social to content creation.

Twitter can convert last-minute shoppers

Kumar also notes that 40 percent of social media conversations around back to school in 2012 focused on the rush to finish buying before classes ​begin​. This insight suggests brands should engage with prospects from July onward, but enact special promotions a few days before most schools start across America. This could capture the rush of shoppers who need supplies last minute. Brands that cater to the education sector can’t afford to relax too much this summer. These warmer months are the foundation for a successful back-to-school selling season.

Ted Karczewski is an Executive Communications Associate at Brafton. He works to develop his own voice and apply his passions to the evolving world of SEO and content marketing, but he doesn't shy away from writing for fun. After graduating from Suffolk University, Ted used his Communications degree to test out Sports Journalism before Marketing at Brafton.