Each year the amount of national and international hashtag holidays increases. What started as a way to create awareness about various social causes has now expanded to hundreds of holidays honoring relationships, communities, social justice issues and even food.

From #WorldChocolateDay to #WorldMentalHeathDay, it can be difficult to determine what holidays, or awareness days, are relevant for your brand and will resonate with your audience.

Holidays like #NationalDogDay give you a lovely opportunity to connect over shared experiences and the humor of life. But hashtag holidays and awareness days can be more serious, too.

Consumers increasingly want brands to talk about important issues, and that’s another way to connect with your audience. In fact, in Sprout’s #BrandsGetReal report, 67% of consumers believed that brands were effective at driving change when raising awareness of important public issues. A national day or awareness month might be a great starting point to integrate meaningful initiatives into your social strategy.

Here’s our list of the top hashtag holidays for 2021. We’ve compiled them into a Google Calendar with additional holidays and awareness days to add to your own social media calendar.

Read on to learn more about how to listen, strategize and simplify your approach to hashtag holidays.

Getting started

Step 1: Choose relevant hashtags

When it comes to social media, some brands celebrate every holiday, regardless of its relevance to their company. Although it may be fun participate in holiday such as #NationalTacoDay, it might be a misstep for a plant nursery.

Before your brand selects what holidays to highlight on your social channels, remind yourself the purpose of social media. Businesses can leverage these buzzy social moments to foster deeper connections with their customers and communities. While some holidays may attract more likes than others, it’s important to keep in mind that if your approach is not genuine and relevant, the value of that engagement is lost.

Know your brand’s “why”

Some holidays might have people participating on social media that may not fit your target audience. Before your brand decides to partake in a holiday, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your brand making a statement or doing something for fun?
  • What is my goal in using this hashtag?
  • What is my follow up plan?

If you can confidently answer these questions, participate in that holiday! If not, you might want to revise if your brand should be participating in it.

Step 2: Use your data to give your audience what they want

As social media marketers, we have to be ahead of our audience’s needs. Take the guesswork out of social media by using listening tools to discover exactly what your audience is talking about.

With Sprout’s Advanced Listening tool, you can get valuable insights on the conversations where a certain hashtag holiday intersects with your brand or product. Additionally, you can listen in on how competitor brands or organizations with similar audiences have approached those days in the past.

Step 3: Report on what is/isn’t working

Now that you’ve narrowed down your audience’s needs and the holidays you want your brand to participate in, measure the relevance of your strategy. You measure the performance of your campaigns and need to do the same in regards to your hashtag holiday strategy.

Sprout’s reporting suite makes interpreting the success of content you made specifically for hashtag holidays simple. You can use Sprout to:

  • Use your best hashtag performance from last year as a basis for your new goals, and measure performance as you go.
  • Inform your monthly and yearly planning with Sprout’s volume analysis and conversation analysis tools. This data will tell you even more about what shifts you might need to make in your approach throughout the year.
  • Store data ahead of time and save ideas for how your brand will celebrate awareness days directly to your content calendar with Sprout’s publishing tools.

Step 4: Acknowledge a holiday in advance

Don’t wait until the day of a holiday to post about your stance on a social justice issue or awareness day that your audience values. Build up to it just like American Express did for Small Business Saturday.

Throughout the month of November, American Express built anticipation for Small Business Saturday by highlighting various businesses on their social media pages. They also have a website dedicated to shopping small that promotes Black-owned businesses and neighborhood champions. AmEx’s campaign is an example of how awareness days/months and campaigns go beyond social. If you have a great idea, make sure you’re talking to other members of your marketing team so you can collaborate on something bigger!

Step 5: Take a stand—if it’s appropriate and relevant to your brand

Awareness days have deeper implications when your brand participates in them. 2020 has been a chaotic year for many, but with the power of social media, many brands have been able to raise awareness for various causes and holidays that did not previously receive mainstream recognition.

One holiday that gained more notoriety this year was Juneteenth, a day that commemorates the ending of slavery in the United States.

Sephora celebrated Juneteenth by doing more than posting a cute graphic on social media. They hosted a live conversation with their Sephora equity partners (Black activists, scholars and partners) to further amplify Black voices. By educating their audience on the history of Juneteenth, they showed their brand’s passion for social equity and helped bring awareness to this holiday.

Ben & Jerry’s has built a reputation for themselves over the years as a brand committed to social activism. This year for Thanksgiving, they encouraged their audience to have open conversations with their families about the origins of the holiday while providing six facts to use when discussing racial justice. Outside of raising awareness, they donate towards various charitable causes and create new flavors inspired by causes they’re committed to.

If your brand supports different causes you can be transparent and post about it on social media, but only if it’s relevant to your brand. For example, you can post about #WorldMentalHealthDay, but it’s different to take a stand on it. If your brand’s goal is to take a firm stand on something, make sure you are backing it up with your actions. If your goal is to just raise awareness, a social media post may suffice.

Take hashtag holidays a step further

We’ve already mentioned that when selecting what holidays to participate in, you must choose wisely. That’s especially true if you’re posting about an awareness day or month representing a social issue. In those cases, you want your brand to focus on the intention of participation, not just make a one off statement or evade year long commitment. According to Sprout’s 2020 Index report, 45% of consumers believed that brands focused on transparency are best in class on social media. Posting about a holiday is just one part of the process. You must put actions behind your words to make a difference to your audience.

There’s still a time and place for holidays such as #NationalDonutDay, but it might not always be worth posting about for your brand. And if you’re taking on a significant and important awareness day like Juneteenth, duplicating your strategy for #NationalDonutDay will not cut it. Know that your audience will sense your intention and gauge what they want to see before you curate your social media calendar.

What’s next?

Now that you have your hashtag holidays and awareness days/months planned out for 2021, it’s time to go celebrate! Remember to stay true to your brand by choosing relevant hashtags that will help your brand foster a deeper connection with your target audience.

Use our Google Calendar with 2021 holidays to keep track of your top holidays and find new ones that inspire you.

What hashtag holidays and awareness days will you participate in? Any learnings from 2020? Tweet us your thoughts @SproutSocial!