A Spooktacular Halloween Campaigns Retrospective

Events like Halloween are always a great opportunity to take advantage of huge spikes in search volume, connect with students and get creative. But, crafting a successful campaign and breaking through the huge volume of Halloween content can make even the most experienced marketer's blood run cold.

This year we've had our eyes peeled for devilishly good campaigns, so if you're interested in how institutions found a way to push through the noise of Halloween and spook, entertain and educate - read on. We've some great example campaigns in our “spooktacular" round-up below.

Choose your own adventure story at the University of Reading

If you're a fan of decision-based games you would have been delighted with the University of Reading's innovative Twitter trail that took students on a Halloween inspired adventure (whilst subtly weaving in some great facts about the institution for prospective students). Engagement for the campaign rose a staggering 18%.

Instagram ghost hunt puts students in control at the University of Glasgow

A group of brave students went on a ghost hunt around campus. The initiative put students in control of the decisions and students were in charge of making the decisions! The campaign was promoted across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter and driven by Instagram Stories activity.

Penn State University hosted their annual pumpkin festival

Pumpkin carving has been taken to new creative levels at this year's annual festival over at the Penn State University. A judging panel of campus and community leaders awarded ribbons for the best three Jack-o'-lanterns in each age category: the best-in-show, the best pop culture theme, the best Penn State theme, and the best Arboretum theme. Many contestants choose to carve Penn State themes into their jack-o'-lanterns, lighting up the Penn State University brand across social platforms particularly Instagram.

full scale haunted house at Full Sail University

Full Sail University took things up a notch by building a professional level haunted house with accompanying horror movies for everyone to walk through on Halloween.

The university created video teasers to encourage people to attend and covered the haunted house on Instagram, Facebook, and SnapChat, showing hyper lapses of the house, boomerangs of the scare actors, followed by photo albums of all the Halloween festivities (costumes, contest, food, trick or treating). 

Another haunted house and scary stories at Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University used Halloween as a great opportunity to showcase a high-end video of this historic campus building across Instagram and the web.

By day it's a hive of scholarship activity. But by night, its sprawling porches, creaking wood-plank floors, winding staircases, and mysterious nooks and crannies provide an apt setting for a celebration of ghost stories.

The Vaughn Home, a lovingly restored Victorian house in the heart of Vanderbilt University's campus, became a venue for telling spooky stories. Legend has it that ghosts of the Vaughn family visit on occasion, reportedly turning lights off and on and moving objects.

Pumpkin Stencils at the University of Georgia

The University of Georgia handed out pumpkin stencils and created high-quality footage of master pumpkin carvers in action on campus over on Twitter. Further animated content across social channels brought other spooky goings on to life.

And it's not just social media that you can use at this time of year

Check out this screen grabs from the Vassar College website. The Vassar college team went all out in their efforts to engage with students and potential students this Halloween. Using creativity and strategic planning, they were able to create a fun festive website that showed their fun side.

A lot of time and effort went into creating this spooky, yet informative masterpiece. All of the Halloween content had pre-existed on the website and was reworked with a Halloween twist.

We are in awe of this boo-tiful content. Is something you could apply to your website Halloween 2020? We can't wait to see what you can come up with.

Carving out social content that grabs students attention

Halloween is getting ever popular, particularly with students. In the US, for example, 70% now celebrate Halloween. And with social video content growing exponentially in popularity too, institutions can use events like these to gain relevant traffic, increase brand awareness and have a bit of fun.

These campaigns broke through with audiences by staying true to the spirit of the season while also taking a unique approach.

We hope this has given you some nightmarish inspiration to terrify your campus with next year! But will it come to life on Instagram Stories, YouTube or perhaps even TikTok?

P.S. As always this list is not exhaustive, there's loads of great content this season and if we could feature it all we would! If you've seen any other great campaigns we'd love to hear from you.