Holidays? What holidays?!
No, not those sorts of holidays. And not bank holidays, either.
Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you will have seen a near-constant social media trend of the hashtag holiday. These are designated Days, Weeks or Months of something, where people are encouraged to commemorate, or promote, a certain topic, cause or subject. Famous examples of these include International Women’s Day, Black History Month, and International Doughnut Day. Some of these are serious, and sometimes require action on your part; others are frivolous and are better used as an opportunity for plugging a product or service.
The serious ones
A lot of these hashtag holidays aim to raise awareness about a particular social issue, or promote good practices. Usually, organisations concerned with these will be posting about them the most. For example, it makes sense for Stonewall to post on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia on May 17th. The bigger the organisations, the more resources will be produced, aiming to increase awareness and eventually effect change.
The more attuned to these topics the world gets, the bigger demand there is for companies to speak up. Celebrating differences, showing support, offering content; these are quickly becoming requirements for businesses, especially in cases like Black History Month where there is a pressing focus on the continuing inequalities in the modern world. In fact, if you’re a big company with a lot of influence, this is now an expectation. Consumers want to use brands that are socially conscious; and those that commit to this tend to receive great consumer feedback.
Look at Ben & Jerry’s, for instance. Not only do they make great ice cream, but they use their platform and put their money where their mouth is.
The not-so-serious ones
Some, like #InternationalDoughnutDay, obviously do not require such a serious tone. These allow people to celebrate the smaller things in life, and can be a welcome piece of levity in a fast paced world of marketing, selling and serious conversations. This isn’t usually headed by organisations, but companies who sell products or services related to the topic. The playing field is more level here, as there is less emphasis on being a voice of authority, responsibility and knowledge.
Where does my business come into this?
In order to look on top of trends, you have to actually be on top of trends. And in the fast and furious world of social media, hashtag holidays are another way to keep up with the constant stream of content.
Most importantly, of course, it can generate more engagement, even if specialised over a small period of time. But done well, this engagement may turn into leads, so it is worth the effort it requires.
Furthermore, it can connect you to a community—a community that you can reap the benefits of. Whether they have similar interests or goals, or whether it is simply a connection through a hashtag, it does well to appear part of something.
Going on holiday
The first thing is to source a comprehensive list of international and national holidays. These can easily be sought on the internet—but we recommend this site. Depending on your location, you may have to tweak your lists.
Then, categorise and prioritise. Are there holidays that are relevant to you? Will you have anything to contribute?
It is important to schedule your post content with services such as HootSuite or Sprout. Some of your posts may require planning, especially if you’re going to produce multiple or prolonged pieces of content.
But this doesn’t need to be a time-draining exercise. Once you’ve set up posts to be scheduled, you can move onto more pressing jobs. At the same time, some of your content may be more spontaneous—national food days tend to fall into this category—so allow for this too.
You should absolutely take into consideration what you’re posting, and why. Luckily, we’ve provided a list of the dos and don’ts of hashtag holidays:
Feel the Pressure
Don’t force it. It will be clear to your audience that you’ve scrambled to connect your company to a holiday, and it will come across as desperate. Sometimes, a simple sentence will do the trick. Post content that is transparent, and genuine; people want to feel a natural connection, not obligation.
Make Light of Serious Issues
This is an incredibly important point, that many business continually get wrong. It’s true that jumping on the bandwagon can bring more engagement, but if you’re only doing it for that reason, your social media audience will see right through. Brands that trivialise, or outright joke about, important topics are often derided for being shameless.
Talk about an important issue if you can—not because you feel you should. Trivialisation harms a company more than simply observing it silently. Sharing posts from voices of authority on the subject matter is a way to show support without speaking over anyone, or clamouring for attention.
Check The Nationality
Most hashtag holidays are international, but some are observed nationally. Black History Month in the US, for example, is in February—but in the UK, February is LGBT History Month. Our Black History Month is in October; you’ll find meaningful, local connections if you join the conversation for your country. Otherwise, you’ll appear to have jumped on the bandwagon without much consideration for what you’re posting about.
Stay Relevant to Your Brand
This is also important. Content is ultimately about what you can post, not what you feel you should post. It needs to make sense! A company offering website design services doesn’t need to post on International Children’s Art Day.
Geographical relevance is usually enough of a reason to post. In fact, the more localised, the better.
Particularly for topics that are relevant to you and your company, establishing yourself as a vote of knowledge and authority will provide quality conversation and establish your company as a voice of knowledge and authority. And if the aim of the day is to spread awareness—well, that can never be a bad thing!
Show The Human Behind the Content
People sell to people. People want to buy from people. Now more than ever, consumers want to see the humans behind the company, especially on international holidays that talk about diversity and representation. There may be people in your company for whom these are important subjects, and celebrating their achievements can be a great way to show your support.
Most importantly, this needs to be coupled with commitment to their progress and wellbeing within the company. This should go without saying, yet there have been examples where this hasn’t come to light. Socially conscious consumers will be aware of companies that congratulate themselves for reaching diversity targets without providing any meaningful change within their company culture. Give your company a reason to be proud!
What hashtag holidays have you posted about recently? Why did you post about them, and did they help you with your engagement? Continue the conversation in the comments below!