There are hundreds of national and global hashtag holidays today. But before #NationalCatDay or #EarthDay—or even social media—became a thing, nonprofits and global agencies created awareness days like these to educate and boost the public’s understanding of some of the world’s most pressing issues.
These holidays have evolved as social has become a primary platform for connection. From #MayThe4thBeWithYou to #GivingTuesday, it’s clear that consumers want to connect with other people and brands around their shared interests, and hashtag holidays are an accessible, casual opportunity to do just that.
Our list includes a combination of celebrated industry-specific holidays, as well as pop-culture events and monthly observances. We’ve compiled them into a downloadable PDF for quick reference, as well as a Google Calendar with even more hashtag holidays and events to add to your own social media calendar. Check them out below:
If you aren’t sure which hashtag holidays resonate best with your audience, read on to learn how to listen, strategize and streamline your approach. Now, let’s dive into the steps you need to take to prep your seasonal strategy!
Step 1: Choose relevant hashtags
Relevance is key to a brand’s success with hashtag holidays.
It’s not unusual to see brands post on nearly every holiday, regardless of whether it’s relevant to their business or not. This is a big misstep. Brands need to step back and remember what makes them so highly engaging on social in the first place—connection. Posting reactively without establishing that relevant connection may garner some likes, but the value of that engagement is lost.
Plan around holidays that have the most relevance to your brand and ensure your content resonates. Read on for tips on choosing the most relevant hashtags.
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It can be tough to pinpoint the best time to post for hashtag holidays and all your other campaigns.
That’s why Sprout offers our patented ViralPost technology to do it for you by recommending Optimal Send Times specific to your audience.
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Hashtags and your brand
Branding is more important than ever on social. For years, businesses have talked about a need to “cut through the noise” and stand out. Your brand’s values are a critical element in doing just that. This is particularly true with millennials, who we found prefer brands that are honest and socially responsible.
Marketers shouldn’t just wait around for holidays to come and reactively jump in. Instead, the hashtag holidays they celebrate and honor should be an extension of the content that is already being produced. For example, American Express aims to make a difference in their customers’ lives. So when Small Business Saturday rolls around, they focus on bringing communities together in support of their favorite small businesses.
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“I remember the first time a customer told me about Shop Small through American Express,” says Ann Cantrell, founder of @anniesblueribbongeneralstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn. As a participant in Small Business Saturday since its inception in 2010, Ann has seen how “it’s grown and developed and really become a magical part of the holiday shopping season.” The community surrounding Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store “is so supportive of small, local businesses… it’s such a special place!” #ShopSmall #SmallBizSat
Amex recently rallied around #ShopSmall to highlight some of their favorite stories from small businesses in a docuseries called Saving Main, which follows three different small businesses to look at the different challenges they face and the inspiring ways each business persevered. The message from the hashtag holiday isn’t used simply for the social posts, but it’s layered into its entire marketing strategy.
Here are a few tips to ensure you’re picking the right hashtag for the right reasons:
- Research the holiday! Don’t just fill your content calendar, make sure the holiday aligns with your brand, values and, most importantly, the values of your audience.
- Make sure your posts are respectful of underrepresented, marginalized and/or oppressed groups. Don’t appropriate culture.
- Ensure that your brand’s actions back up your Tweets. 70% of people believe it’s important for brands to take a public stand on social and political issues. For example, a social campaign celebrating #EarthDay could be a great fit for a brand that’s made a concerted effort to be more sustainable—but it might not be the best fit for a brand that doesn’t take steps to limit their environmental impact.
Hashtags for your audience
Sprout Social survey discovered 51% of people unfollow brands that share irrelevant content on social. This insight is vital to a company’s profit, especially since 67% of people are more likely to spend more with brands they follow on social, and 78% say they will visit that brand’s physical retail store.
We used social listening to identify which days and hashtags are the most popular. While we’ve already applied these findings to the hashtags in our calendar, your audience might be different from ours. You can use the same approach to find the most relevant topics for your social content outside of these days and events.
Learn more about the powerful features of Sprout’s Social Listening to find out how these insights can inform your brand’s strategy and campaigns.
Don’t overdo it
Mind your relevance and make sure your holiday efforts aren’t overkill. You don’t need to post 10 times per day or create posts for every hashtag holiday—you’ll lose followers and damage your reputation. Focus on one per week or a few per month. If you’re focusing on the holidays that align most meaningfully to both your company and your audience, the cadence will even out from there.
Maximize impact with Sprout
Need a little help finding the best time to post? Look no further than Sprout’s patented ViralPost® technology.
ViralPost® analyzes your audience data and detects the most active times for authentic engagement, enabling you to automatically schedule content at the best times for your brand.
…[H]aving Sprout to not only help schedule content but also know when the most optimal time to publish is, depending on the page or platform? It’s a game changer.Alyssa Townsend
Director of Social Media
Step 2: Give your audience what they want
Listen to your customers and stay aware, even ahead of their needs. Listening tools help you zero in on what matters most to your market.
Listen to your audience
You don’t have to guess which holidays your customers want you to post about. Sprout’s Advanced Listening measures the conversation around your brand, influencers and categories to provide you with insight into how you can connect with your audience on the things that they care about most.
Social listening gives us an unobscured view at what customers want. That’s the game.Dan Wilkins
General Manager and Co-founder
Not only will insights from Advanced Listening help you identify which hashtags resonate with your audience, but it also gives you unprecedented access to critical qualitative context as to why.
As you get even more specific with your audience personas, you can also filter demographic data to identify content that resonates with targeted niches within your audience and tailor your hashtag holidays accordingly.
Step 3: Measure hashtag performance
You’ve got your content planned and your hashtags picked, but how do you know if your efforts have paid off? Brands still struggle to track and measure performance when it comes to social media. But there are ways to ensure you’re not wasting time with certain hashtags.
It pays to visualize how your campaigns fit amongst the rest of your content strategy and for a lot of businesses, that includes hashtag holidays. Additionally, you’ll need a tool to understand the share of voice across various brands, product lines or even your competitors.
Using Sprout’s reporting suite, it’s easier to measure the relevance and power of your hashtags. Dig deeper into your hashtag analytics and set a clear measure for success. Do this by benchmarking your best hashtag holiday from a year prior and setting new goals around that performance.
With Sprout’s hashtag analysis, you can optimize your performance for each hashtag holiday campaign. If you’re posting from Sprout on our mobile app, you can optimize your Instagram hashtags with suggestions that highlight popular hashtags as you type.
Share your story
Once you’ve analyzed your hashtags and have chosen the tags that are most relevant to your brand, it’s time for you to write and schedule posts. This is your moment to share why you care and how this hashtag holiday connects you to your audience.
Scheduling will save you time and help you visualize your hashtag efforts. For example, with Sprout’s Publishing suite, you can view a daily calendar. This ensures you aren’t overlapping major holidays or events.
It’s also a great way for you to collaborate with teammates. Use calendar notes to identify each holiday so your whole team has visibility into what you’re planning.
It’s also a great way for you to collaborate with teammates. For example, you might decide which holidays to use and populate your scheduler with the hashtags and post copy.
You may hire a professional photographer to take photos or a graphic designer to provide some custom images for you to share—you can pop these into your asset library later when the images are ready.
Don’t stop with optimizing your hashtags. To give your holiday tags the best chance of connecting you to your audience, including images, videos and other dynamic formats that fortify your content.
Let’s take a look at a few examples and best practices:
- Aim to entertain – Consumers are interested in a wide variety of social content from brands, but the common thread is that they prefer highly entertaining content. 50% of all marketers say posts that entertain are more effective in helping hen reach their goals than discounts and sales content.
- Have fun and use holidays to experiment with content – Include BTS (behind the scenes) content or spend time planning more produced work. Maybe you’ll show employees in the office eating pancakes on #NationalPancakeDay, or use a beautifully shot image of the pancakes before your team digs in.
- Echo the holiday throughout your online presence – Carry your holiday vibes into other elements of your online presence, like your social profiles or your company’s website.
Take everything you’ve learned in this post and take advantage of the hashtag holidays, events and monthly observances. If there’s one takeaway from the tips here, it’s that thoughtful use of relevant hashtags can dramatically improve the way you connect you with the people that love your brand.
Keep track of 2020’s hashtag holidays with our PDF quick reference to the top holidays, or add our Google Calendar to your own calendar and keep track of an even larger list of hashtag holidays.
What are some of your favorite hashtag holidays? Tweet us at @SproutSocial or share your thoughts in the comments below.