I’m going to level with you: I used to cringe a little when I saw some brands try to co-opt a holiday for a social media post. It’s not that I disliked holidays (I’m not a monster!), it’s just that it can feel lazy when it’s not framed poorly or entirely irrelevant to their post. People are bombarded with holiday posts from brands on social media and I don’t think anyone is sitting on pins and needles waiting to see how Cheez-It commemorates Arbor Day (Treez-It? You know they need that oft-overlooked lumberjack dollar!).
Here’s the thing though, while I personally dislike this practice philosophically, I also understand two incontrovertible facts:
- It is important for brands to post about holidays on social media when it’s relevant.
- I am not always the target audience for the majority of these posts.
That latter acknowledgment is a decent paraphrase of the entire thesis of this blog which is that posting about holidays as a brand on social media should be done with both your existing and desired audiences in mind. If it’s relevant to them, then it works for your brand.
Are all holidays the same? Obviously not. However, a brand’s approach to posting about holidays on social media should always consider the following questions and best practices.
You Don’t Need To Post About Every Holiday
With the exception of our totally winning Treez-It™ concept (seriously Kellogg’s, we are available for creative work and social media management), you don’t need to post about every holiday, especially if that holiday is not relevant to your audience, your brand, or the post you’re pushing. However, finding context for a holiday post doesn’t necessarily have to apply exclusively to your business’s core value proposition. Using Arbor Day as an example again, let’s say you’re a bank that has a tree-planting initiative or that supports a community organization that focuses on tree planting–that’s actually the perfect context to bring relevant, positive attention to your brand in a social post about Arbor Day. Find the context if it’s there, but try not to force it if there’s no relevance whatsoever.
Also, we should also talk about some of these “social media holidays” that seem to be conjured out of thin air. While some of these are obviously a little ridiculous (c’mon, you know), there is a benefit to brands commemorating them if they’re relevant. For example: If you’re a sporting goods store, you might want to post about “National Get Outside Day” (June 10th) while avoiding “holidays” that have no relevance to your brand like “World UFO Day” (July 2nd). Not only will it provide more context for your posts, but you’ll also be able to identify pertinent hashtags to become a part of the social conversations happening around your industry.
Use your discretion for choosing which of these social media holidays to post about because you know we’re likely about a year away from someone at the Walmart headquarters just arbitrarily deciding that September 5th is “National Give Walmart Your Money Day” (Hashtag #DaddyWalbucks).
“Know the history of the holiday, know how your audience views that holiday, and approach your posts with the reverence or tone that day merits.”
Tone is Everything
Certain holidays mean different things to different people but there are several that evoke deep, poignant emotions. Memorial Day is a great example of this and we have seen brands make the error of saying “Happy Memorial Day” more times than we can count. It’s not really a happy day—it’s a time for somber reflection and appreciation of those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. A brand’s tone in both post caption and imagery should reflect those emotions because if it doesn’t, your brand runs the risk of looking lazy at best, and insensitive and tone-deaf at worst. Know the history of the holiday, know how your audience views that holiday, and approach your posts with the reverence or tone that day merits.
Yeah…maybe just don’t.
Promote A Special Offer or Updated Store Hours
Brands don’t need to affect a reverent tone for every holiday and they also don’t need to post some half-assed “Happy (Insert Holiday Here)” social media post. An alternative is to offer customers an incentive like a discount or a promotion on that holiday because it provides built-in relevance for your post. When a person is wading through their feed and viewing hundreds of holiday sentiments from brands, they’re actually going to stop and engage with a special offer from a brand or business they trust and patronize.
Now, choosing the right holiday for this discount/promotion is incredibly important. Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, and Black Friday would all be relevant for a social media post about a discount or promotion. However, posting about “Memorial Day Mattress Savings!” is not only gauche, it’s downright offensive. We’ll use Veterans Day as an example of how best to approach a holiday that requires reverence and respect: it’s not a good idea to post about Veterans Day savings but it is a great idea to offer veterans a discount in the month of November to thank them for their service.
The Happy Holidays Vs. Merry Christmas Social Media Conversation
While the holiday season is nearly universally celebrated, you’re under no obligation as a brand to just post about Christmas. The fact of the matter is that so many people in this country celebrate different holidays throughout the month of December and “Happy Holidays” is a sentiment that appeals to everyone. The idea here is to project inclusivity so on or around Christmas, perhaps consider saying “Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays” or “Seasons Greetings.” Holidays are meant to be joyous and as a brand, you want to align yourself with that joy for everyone in a season where benevolence and goodwill should guide your thinking.
Other Tips For Brands Posting About Holidays On Social Media
- Post about your team and any inter-office holiday celebrations. It allows your company to not only share in the celebration with your audience, but it champions members of your team and humanizes your brand.
- When applicable, share news or organizations that are not from your company. Have you done work with or otherwise supported a company that organized a food drive on Thanksgiving? Talk about that and share your appreciation for their work–it will engender you to your community and provide the perfect context for your post.
- Image design is essential. Don’t just pull some rote image from stock or Google search because these are days that genuinely mean something to a lot of people. Take the time to create something special because if the holiday is relevant to at least some portion of your audience, it matters to them.
There are no hard and fast rules for posting about holidays on social media as a brand but these higher-level best practices can make the difference between a resonant commemoration of a holiday and a social media post that inadvertently offends. When a brand strikes the right tone on a holiday post, they’re able to subtly align themselves with the heightened emotions their audience experiences at that time. It’s by no means exhaustive, but adhering to these tips for brands posting about holidays on social media can make a huge difference between customer acquisition and customer alienation.
About the Author
As Digital Director, Jack is responsible for developing and executing engaging digital and social media campaigns. With experience at two successful startups and in the advertising industry, Jack’s background makes him uniquely qualified to tell our clients’ stories.