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31.10.17 / The most popular Halloween costume? The answer is Stranger than you think

If you’ve been lucky (or, as some might see it, unlucky) enough to be invited to a Halloween party this week, you’re probably debating what to dress up as. This is no trivial matter – this year, us Brits are expected to spend over £320 million on the occasion, an amount which has been rising over the years – a truly scary (sorry) fact. As excitement around Halloween builds year on year, so does the pressure to impress with the best, most ingenious costume.

But clearly, we’ve been embracing the challenge. Over the past four years, there has been a 17.2% increase in Google searches for Halloween costumes in the UK, showing that more and more people are turning to the internet, and especially social media, to find the perfect Halloween costume which will get the most attention. Last year, Halloween costumes were mentioned 69,519 times in October alone on Twitter, and 49% of these posts were retweets. Sentiment in these posts is predominantly positive, with users sharing their favourite outfit ideas as opposed to ones they didn’t rate.

So, if you’re looking for the costume that will get you most talked about on social, what should you go for? We chose to let social data make the decisions for us…

First of all, we looked at the more conventional Halloween outfits to see which one was most popular during October 2016. Cats, vampires and ghosts were reliable favourites, receiving the largest amount of mentions out of our selection. Mummies and zombies were less popular, but still made up a significant portion of the conversation.

Taking into account the percentage of mentions which included retweets, we were able to rate these costumes as follows:

Costume No. Twitter mentions No. retweets % of mentions which were retweets
Ghost 416 181 44%
Vampire 401 152 38%
Cat 519 173 33%
Witch 501 162 32%
Zombie 397 115 29%
Mummy 57 11 19%

So, even though cat costumes got the most mentions on Twitter, the percentage of these which were retweets was actually not that high, so we wouldn’t recommend drawing a pair of whiskers on your face if you want to become an overnight trending sensation. Ghost costumes were the most successful choice – although only the third most talked about costume, clearly one which impressed users the most. Conveniently this is also the laziest Halloween option, provided you have a white sheet and some scissors (although this is probably on the less impressive end of the scale).

Pop culture also played a part in the Halloween costume conversation last year. Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Theresa May costumes got 109 mentions between them (and significantly more for the former two in America), with a retweet percentage of 40%. There might not have been many who braved an orange spray tan or put on some jazzy kitten heels, but those who did reaped the benefits on social. Suicide Squad character Harley Quinn was also a big hit, with 104 costume mentions, 12% of these being retweets.

There was, however, a clear winner in our quest to find the most talked about Halloween costume. With a retweet percentage of 65% within its mentions, you’re most likely to get talked about on social if you don a pair of 80’s sneakers or wrap yourself in Christmas lights and head to a party dressed as a character from Stranger Things.

When you look at the data, this isn’t surprising. Since the release of the first series on Netflix last year, Google searches on the cult TV show have rocketed, and in the month leading up to the release of the second series this month, have increased by 444%. It’s received over 2.7m mentions on Twitter and Instagram worldwide, and almost five million people active on Facebook each month have some form of connection to the show, either through post likes, comments or shares.

So there you have it. If you want to stand out on social media and get people talking this Halloween, you might need to dig out those Christmas lights a couple of months early…

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