Like most big events this year, Halloween 2020 will look different from previous years. As COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the country, traditional activities such as trick or treating will be suspended and parties are strongly discouraged. One study even found that more than 75% of consumers say the pandemic has affected their celebrations, with some people asking, “Is Halloween 2020 canceled?”
As it turns out, the answer is no. Because if there’s one thing we’ve learned from this year, it’s that people are willing and able to adapt in order to make the most of the situation. In Chicago, a bar is starting a haunted house, while the streaming service Hulu in Los Angeles offers a similar entertainment experience. And to balance out the trick-or-treating, Mars Wrigley has created a virtual trick-or-treating app that consumers across the country can use.
In other words, Halloween activities may look unusual this year, but the spirit of Halloween remains strong. Using Sprout’s Social Listening Platform, we looked at recent conversations around Halloween to see how people tweak and customize their traditional scary activities. We analyzed over 13 million messages on Twitter from October 1st to October 27th to learn more about how people are conversing for Halloween in 2020.
Surprise! It’s scary all month long
Whether because of the upcoming elections or the ongoing pandemic, the weeks leading up to the October vacation seem to have surprised some people. For example, the word “realize” popped up on over 41,000 messages about Halloween activities as people socialized to share that they hadn’t indulged in as much spooky activity this year.
Historically, Halloween is a popular topic of conversation in September and October. There were over 19 million mentions of Halloween or #Halloween on Twitter in 2016, and that number rose to over 23 million in 2019. This year, from September 1st to October 27th, we recorded more than 16 million mentions of Halloween or #Halloween. Halloween – an increase of 27% over the same period last year.
The volume of Halloween conversations varies from place to place. If we compare news volume to the area’s population, Washington DC had the highest volume rate, followed by Nevada and New Jersey. To find this data, we broken down the volume of Halloween mentions by state and divided that number by the state population using estimates from the US census.
- Washington, DC
- New Jersey
Interestingly, the highest volume of Halloween conversations takes place in regions where COVID cases are steadily increasing, but there is no uncontrolled spread in the community (more than 25 new cases per 100,000 people daily). Just before the holiday, officials like governors and mayors take to Twitter for advice on how to celebrate appropriately. As the social chatter about activity increased, more than 213,000 messages related to safety, COVID, and related terms when people asked for recommendations on how to celebrate safely.
Anger some good scary movies and safe Halloween activities?
– Foreign Writers (@strangerwriters) October 8, 2020
Other annual traditions are being revised to reflect the pandemic. In DC, for example, the National Air and Space Museum has grown from its personal event to a home pumpkin carving competition. In Portland, Oregon, drive-through horror experiences are a safe and socially remote option for thrill seekers.
🎃 Enter the Air & Scare at Home virtual pumpkin decoration competition! The most fabulous entries will be awarded a prize. 👻
Join in and send the following today: https://t.co/f3k0V2B9EE. Closing date: October 25th. Go big or pumpkin home! 🕷🕸 pic.twitter.com/ZjmQcX9KdI
– National Air and Space Museum (@airandspace) October 21, 2020
Surprise! We bring you a special Halloween treat with SLAY at the drive-in! ❤️
Visit us in Portland and Seattle for an exclusive personal horror experience. 🖤 Visit https://t.co/rJbjht2y3i to secure your spot before they’re all gone! pic.twitter.com/0rIucEjKN9
– slayfilmfest (@slayfilmfest) October 13, 2020
On the flip side, the annual trick-or-treating celebrations at the Nevada governor’s mansion were canceled as cases in the state began to spike. And universities like San Diego State University are warning students to stay home on Halloween weekend to prevent the spread.
. @ SDSU has issued a home-stay recommendation for students through Halloween weekend to prevent possible build-up of the virus.
College students have over 99% survival rates when infected with coronavirus.https: //t.co/1n2H2kjPV2
– KUSI News (@KUSINews) October 23, 2020
Classic traditions with a social touch
As for the 2020 Halloween ideas, people are still thinking about how trick or treating can become a reality. Almost 429,000 messages over Halloween related to trick or treating as people get creative about how to fix their candy this year. James Breakwell, author of Exploding Unicorns, shared how his kids were throwing their own Halloween 2020 at home, complete with trick or treating.
October 31st was too far away so the big girls threw a Halloween party for their sisters, complete with trick or treating, games, and a dance party. Your calendar has no power here. pic.twitter.com/duY85mrKYm
– James Breakwell, Exploding Unicorn (@XplodingUnicorn) October 4, 2020
Online conversations about virtual activities and parties are also increasing steadily. Over 8,400 messages are related to virtual activities or zoom activities. Of these, over 7,500 messages relate specifically to virtual parties or zoom parties. For example, the author RL Stine is hosting a virtual Halloween party for children on the 31st, while the film account “Top Gun” shares GIPHY backgrounds to round off every Zoom party.
LET ME ENTERTAIN YOUR CHILDREN ON Halloween. Bring them to my RL Stine Halloween party on October 31st. Halloween is a little weird this year – and I’ll do my best to make it weird! (And fun.) Details here: https://t.co/MihvJFlUgP
– RL Stine (@RL_Stine) October 19, 2020
After all, movies play a huge role in keeping the Halloween spirit alive. In addition to virtual watch parties and drive-in demonstrations, Halloween fans can expect exclusive new content based on their favorite October classics. The New York Restoration Project, for example, is hosting a one-off show with the Sanderson sisters of “Hocus Pocus,” a move that will delight fans of the cult classic.
We are just as happy to see @BetteMidler, @SJP and @kathynajimy on October 30th. 🤩 Let’s help clear some frequently asked questions on “In Finding the Sanderson Sisters: A Hocus-Pocus Hulaween Takeover.” ⬇️ A # NYRPHulaween thread:
– New York Restoration Project (@NYRP) October 19, 2020
Gaming is all-in on Halloween
An industry ready to face all the challenges of the pandemic? Play. A closer look at the social conversation for Halloween 2020 revealed a healthy chatter about games and the exclusive content on offer in October.
Surprisingly, the most talked about video game in North America is not available at all. Disney’s Twisted Wonderland, a Japanese mobile game, dominated much of the gaming conversation with more than 304,000 messages. The mobile game took full advantage of the Halloween season, launching a series of day-long campaigns, or “missions”, to keep players occupied throughout October.
The first round of Halloween Stamp Missions ends tomorrow, October 23, at 2:59 p.m.
Note that maintenance begins at 3:00 PM. So remember to claim all rewards before https://t.co/ab6fY7dzoB
– Twisted Wonderland ENG (@twst_eng) October 22, 2020
In addition, Overwatch fans have been treated to new Halloween-themed challenges, skins, and loot boxes to celebrate the October vacation from the comfort of their own home. After the initial announcement on October 10, hearing data show an increase in conversations surrounding the event. There are currently more than 70,000 messages mentioning Overwatch’s Halloween activities.
In order not to be outdone, the ever popular Call of Duty also took part in the spooky celebration. The video game dropped its own Halloween event, the Haunting of Verdansk, on October 20th, to the delight of Warzone fans around the world. From October 1st to October 27th, conversations about Call of Duty, Warzone and other related terms grew 1,732% and garnered more than 29,000 messages.
The ghost must go on
Instead of letting the pandemic soak up all of the fun of October, people and brands are finding new ways to keep the spirit of Halloween alive. From zoom parties to month-long virtual events to drive-in demonstrations, there are a number of creative and safe ways to celebrate the spooky season. And while some festivities are temporary, such as B. virtual trick or treating, don’t be surprised if we see some new traditions persist in the long run.
Social listening can help you find out how people turn in times of pandemic and what activities they turn to during the holiday season. To see what more of the insights social listening can bring, check out our article on consumer brand wiretapping or contact us today for a free Sprout listening demo.