Hashtag holidays: pros and cons for communicators

National observances such as Fourth of July, as well as whimsical salutes like Sunglasses Day, afford brand managers a chance to make a splash online. Just make sure it’s not a belly flop.

Social media hashtag holidays are everywhere.

Being a part of the conversation entail more than just posting a stock red, white and blue image to celebrate Independence Day. Though it is easy to participate, that doesn’t mean you always should.

The observance du jour should be relevant to your brand, and you must post about it in a creative way.

A few best practices for celebrating social media holidays and trending hashtags:

  • Confirm that the date hasn’t changed from the previous year. There are times when the date is moved to be celebrated on a certain day of the week. (See the list below; all items marked with an asterisk below should be double-checked.)
  • Research the hashtag to find its true meaning. Make sure you fully understand the meaning behind it before you brainstorm content ideas.
  • Sporting and other high-profile events have stringent rules on including their brands in any materials. Avoid mentions by name of that really big pro football game or the international sporting event that takes place once every four summers.
  • Make sure the theme is relevant to your customers and to your brand. The question I ask is: “Is it easy to see the connection between the event and the brand?” It shouldn’t be a stretch to see the connection; it should be obvious.

A special note about trending hashtags related to when heartbreaking events occur in the world: Even though you might feel compassion, it is often not relevant to your brand to participate.

Guidelines are flexible based on the situation, but participate only if the event happened nearby, affected people related to your organization, or the event is related to your industry. Even if your participation comes from a good place, it can come across as disingenuous.

Getting it right

Denny’s sticks with its odd brand persona and comments on trending topics often, even making fun of made-up holidays (here and here). For national pet day they added whisks to a cat’s whiskers and they even poked fun at 7-Eleven’s free Slurpee day.

Grubhub brings food to your doorstep, as well as themed content to your feed. Here it celebrates International Joke Day with a cheese joke and kebabs for every meal on #4thofJuly.

The best photography April Fools’ jokes of 2016 were extremely relevant to the photography audience, even though they didn’t necessarily make sense for the wider community. These are great examples of using a holiday and making it relevant to the brand.

Here are the social media holidays we saw in 2016. (Certain dates* will change for 2017, of course.)

January

1: New Year’s Day (#NewYears)

2: Science Fiction Day (#ScienceFictionDay)

4: Trivia Day (#NationalTriviaDay)

10: Cut Your Energy Costs Day (#CutYourEnergyCostsDay)

11: Clean Off Your Desk Day (#CleanOffYourDeskDay)

14: Dress up Your Pet Day (#DressUpYourPetDay)

15: Hat Day (#NationalHatDay)

20: Cheese Lovers Day (#CheeseLoversDay)

23: Pie Day (#NationalPieDay)

23: National Handwriting Day (#HandwritingDay)

25: Community Manager Appreciation Day (#CMAD)

February

2: Groundhog Day (#Groundhog Day)

4: World Cancer Day (#WorldCancer #KissCancerGoodbye)

5: Bubblegum Day (#BubblegumDay)

10: Umbrella Day (#NationalUmbrellaDay)

14: Valentine’s Day (#ValentinesDay)

17: Random Acts of Kindness Day (#RandomActsofKindnessDay)

18: National Battery Day (#NationalBatteryDay)

22: Margarita Day (#NationalMargaritaDay)

March

1: World Compliment Day (#WorldComplimentDay)

2: Old Stuff Day (#NationalOldStuffDay)

4: Day of Unplugging (#NationalDayofUnplugging)

8: Proofreading Day (#NationalProofreadingDay)

8: International Women’s Day (#InternationalWomensDay)

13:* Daylight Saving Begins (#DaylightSavings)

14: Potato Chip Day (#NationalPotatoChipDay)

14: Pi Day (#PiDay)

17: St. Patrick’s Day (#StPatricksDay)

20:* First Day of Spring (#FirstDayofSpring)

23: Puppy Day (#NationalPuppyDay)

25: Tolkien Reading Day (#TolkienReadingDay)

31: World Backup Day (#WorldBackupDay)

April

1: April Fools’ Day (#AprilFools)

7: Beer Day (#NationalBeerDay)

10: Siblings Day (#NationalSiblingsDay)

16: Wear Your Pajamas to Work Day (#PJDay)

20: Look-alike Day (#NationalLookAlikeDay)

22: Earth Day (#EarthDay)

23: Picnic Day (#NationalPicnicDay)

May

3: Teacher Appreciation Day (#ThankATeacher)

4: Star Wars Day (#Maythe4thBeWithYou)

5: Cinco de Mayo (#CincodeMayo)

6: Nurses Day (#NationalNursesDay)

8:* Mother’s Day (#MothersDay)

11: Receptionist Day (#NationalReceptionistDay)

15: Chocolate Chip Day (#NationalChocolateChipDay)

June

2: National Leave the Office Early Day (#LeaveTheOfficeEarlyDay)

3: Doughnut Day (#NationalDonutDay / #NationalDoughnutDay)

4: Civic Day of Hacking (#HackForChange)

6: Yo-Yo Day (#NationalYoYoDay)

8: Best Friends Day (#NationalBestFriendsDay / #BestFriendsDay)

19:* Father’s Day (#FathersDay)

20:* First Day of Summer (#FirstDayofSummer)

24: Take Your Dog to Work Day (#TakeYourDogtoWorkDay)

27: Sunglasses Day (#NationalSunglassesDay)

30: Social Media Day (#SMDay / #SocialMediaDay)

July

1: Postal Worker Day (#NationalPostalWorkerDay)

4: Independence Day (#IndependenceDay / #4thofJuly)

6: World Kiss Day (#WorldKissDay)

13: French Fry Day (#NationalFrenchFryDay)

13: Embrace Your Geekness Day (#EmbraceYourGeeknessDay)

13: International Left-hander’s Day (#LefthandersDay)

17: National Ice Cream Day (#IceCreamDay)

19: Aviation Day (#AviationDay)

25: Christmas in July (#ChristmasInJuly)

29: Lipstick Day (#NationalLipstickDay)

August

6: Fresh Breath Day (#NationalFreshBreathDay)

7: Friendship Day (#Friendshipday)

9: Book Lovers Day (#NationalBookLoversDay)

15: Relaxation Day (#NationalRelaxationDay)

26: Dog Day (#NationalDogDay)

September

4: Hug Your Boss Day (#HugYourBossDay)

6: Read a Book Day (#ReadABookDay)

11: Grandparents Day (#NationalGrandparentsDay)

12: Video Games Day (#NationalVideoGamesDay)

19: Talk Like a Pirate Day (#TalkLikeaPirateDay)

22:* First Day of Autumn (#FirstDayofAutumn / #FirstDayofFall)

29: International Coffee Day (#InternationalCoffeeDay)

October

3: Child Health Day (#ChildHealthDay)

3: Mean Girls Day (#MeanGirlsDay)

4: Improve Your Office Day (#ImproveYourOfficeDay)

4: Taco Day (#NationalTacoDay)

5: World Teachers’ Day (#WorldTeachersDay)

9: Moldy Cheese Day (#MoldyCheeseDay)

15: Grouch Day (#NationalGrouchDay)

17: Bosses’ Day (#BossDay)

19: Information Overload Day (#InformationOverloadDay)

25: World Pasta Day (#PastaDay)

29: Cat Day (#NationalCatDay)

31: Halloween (#Halloween / #HappyHalloween)

November

6: Saxophone Day (#SaxophoneDay)

6: Daylight Saving Ends (#DaylightSavings)

11: Veterans Day (#VeteransDay)

11: Sundae Day (#NationalSundaeDay)

13: World Kindness Day (#WorldKindnessDay)

15: Clean out Your Refrigerator Day (#CleanOutYourRefrigeratorDay)

16: Button Day (#NationalButtonDay)

24:* Thanksgiving (#Thanksgiving)

26:* Small Business Saturday (#ShopSmall)

28:* Cyber Monday (#CyberMonday)

December

2: Special Education Day (#SpecialEducationDay)

5: Walt Disney’s birthday (#WaltDisney)

18: Bake Cookies Day (#BakeCookiesDay)

22: First Day of Winter (#FirstDayofWinter)

25: Christmas (#MerryChristmas)

31: New Year’s Eve (#NewYearsEve)

A version of this article first appeared on the Inkhouse blog.

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