One of the questions I’m frequently asked by clients is what they should post on social media and send in emails. And, at first, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Cause-focused organizations have plenty to talk about! Awesome work, touching stories, saving the world….
But I get it. Sometimes you just need something different to talk about. Or maybe you want something a little more light-hearted. Or maybe you want to show off the personality of the brand rather than the mission.
In these cases, I always turn to holiday marketing. Not just “THE holidays” like Thanksgiving and Christmas, though they are relevant, too. But holidays in general. The mission-driven ones like Giving Tuesday, the formally-observed ones like Memorial Day, the fun-to-observe ones like Valentine’s Day, and even the wacky ones like National Hug Day.
They can all serve a purpose—and provide some content for your email and social channels. Intern Jessica Brannigan will explain just how easy it can be, AND give you a holiday marketing calendar and guide to get you started!
Holidays are a time for friends, family or a population to come together. Your online viewers, your customers, and even your employees are talking about holidays. Holidays are meant for exploration, explanation, and feeling. They’re also a wonderful source of inspiration and ready-made content.
Conversations surround events such as Christmas, Small Business Saturday, and Strawberry Ice Cream Day. But even when the dialogue is already started, nonprofits and social enterprises may still find it hard to create posts online. Holiday marketing, however, can be the solution that allows you to be more active online, as well as engage current and promising fans.
Start trending, go viral
The truth is, you should be using holidays in your marketing. Holidays can be an excuse to celebrate, or a time to explore tough issues. As a nonprofit or social enterprise, seize the opportunity to expand your consumers’ sentiment... they could one day become customers or donors. Use it as an excuse to let them to know you are concerned with history and current events. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a prime time to bring up concerns on equality. The same is true for International Women’s Day.
When something is trending online, it is almost impossible not to see it. Why go to your calendar to check the date when you can go on Instagram! You will know it’s the Fourth of July by the number of firework pictures posted, and all of those pastel dresses and ties will tell you that it’s Easter.
On National Donut Day it seems the whole world is taking advantage of every donut shop’s special offers. (Because who doesn’t love a sale on donuts?) But what would happen if one donut shop chose not to post on Nation Donut Day? Did you just shudder at that thought?
Explore and express your brand
Insert your organization into the online holiday chat. Take this opportunity to show off your creative or compassionate side. People want to know there are human beings behind those logos and websites.
Find holidays that fit with your brand and voice. Post about those first, and then find a few more abstract holidays that you believe will allow you to shine!
Major holidays are a chance for an organization to let the world know that they see what is going on in the world and care enough to have a say in the matter. November is not just the time to start those year-end campaigns. It is a chance to let your customers know you’re thankful for them. Acknowledging the world around you can go a long way in the minds and hearts of your customer and donor base.
Holidays can also be a time to take a stand on an issue. The “Me Too” and End It movements are two great examples. Though you may not be directly involved with either of these, show your audience you care by choosing a corresponding holiday to express your thoughts about them. Perhaps chose International Women’s Day on March 8th, or Social Justice Day on February 20th.
Not all holidays are joyous, unfortunately. Tragedies, whether related to your mission or not, are a time to show you can stay strong for those around you. Show them you are always there to lend a hand to the broken. There are plenty of ways to do this. For example, after the Las Vegas shooting, Signify retweeted and posted ways to give blood on our social media. After a natural disaster, one can post links credible donation organizations. It can be that simple.
Do you need to participate in all holidays? Certainly not! Who has the time? But you don’t want to miss the important ones, and if relevant, you definitely do not want to throw away the chance to be funny during National Humor Month (April)!
Identify what content to create
Now that you understand the importance of holiday marketing, you’re probably thinking, “Okay… now where do I start?”
Let’s talk about tips and tricks to doing this holiday thing right. Create a solid foundation and start building!
How to represent your organization.
Your nonprofit or social enterprise has a voice in this world. It has a look and a feel that your customers recognize. When it comes to posting online, you must be able to connect back to your brand. When starting something new, like holiday marketing, it can be easy to stray. You want your customers to see your content and not be confused about where its coming from or who wrote it.
So, before you start writing posts, make sure you have a solid understanding about how you want to present your company, what your consumers are interested in seeing, and how they want to see it.
Will you only choose holidays that specifically align with your company’s mission? Will you choose more light-hearted or thought-provoking holidays? What is your most popular medium to reach people? Is it through email, Instagram, blog post, or podcast? Make it a point to better understand why people are visiting you.
After trying the holiday marketing tactic, evaluate your success. You want to know if your customers actually enjoy the increase in holiday-themed posts, emails or discounts. You can look to find if your sales were boosted by this method, if you can add more emails to your list, if more people engaged with your content or followed you, or if you simply find it easier to post on a regular basis. However you view success, go ahead and measure your results!
This is an opportunity for creation… but don’t overdo it.
This is your chance to get creative! Keep to your brand’s colors, fonts, and imagery, so that people know it’s still you, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little either. Make people want to keep following you in hopes of seeing more stimulating content.
Keep your message simple, though. You will lose your audience if it takes you 10 minutes on your Instagram story just to tell your audience Happy New Year. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Have good visuals and know how to match your tone to what your followers want to see.
Once you finally grab their attention, use it to your advantage. Be mindful of any calls to action that should be included. Is it a good opportunity to ask for a donation, make a purchase, collect an email or read a blog post? From time-to-time you may want to create a message that goes beyond a one-and-done statement.
Plan your marketing strategy ahead of time.
Keep that creative momentum going and prepare posts in advance. If you write multiple pieces around the same time, your tone will flow, your campaigns will coincide, and you will be ready to post when the time comes. Stress free!
Make a list of the holidays you want your nonprofit or social enterprise to be involved in. Useful holidays are just a Google search away. Several resources for holidays and conversations include Days of the Year, this Signify blog post and TimeandDate.com.
After you have your list, create an easy system for managing it. Add holidays with alerts or reminders onto your organization’s calendar or use a note-taking system such as Evernote to systematize thoughts and ideas.
Want some more inspiration, or example holidays to get you started? We’ve created a Holiday Marketing Calendar and Guide for you below!
The holiday has passed… now what?
If it’s a holiday you’ve built a campaign around, be sure to send a thanks or update your list with wins or results. Make them part of the process, not just part of the ask. This will keep them wanting even more of you, and leave them on a positive note.
If you miss a holiday, stay on top of things! Immediately add it to your calendar and tackle it next year. That’s the great thing about a holiday—it always comes back around!
I’m Jessica Brannigan. I’m an upcoming senior at the University of Georgia majoring in public relations and minoring in studio art. I am working towards a career in content creation or graphic design!
I am a fan of the mantra “act confident and no one will question you,” and I strive to use this to make a difference in the world.
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I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.