Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to gather, catch up and celebrate with friends and family over a hearty meal. And while the general mood can be described as merry and celebratory, plenty of us have experienced the dreaded, awkward dinner table conversation.
You know the one. The conversation that starts when guests have a few drinks, eat an extra slice of pie and suddenly you find yourself stuck in a debate about politics. Or equally as unnerving: when you’re asked what it is you do all day as a social media manager, and you have to dispel the myth that it’s all sunshine and Instagram Stories.
Some conversations will be unavoidable and, try as we might, not every holiday meal is going to be smooth sailing. But this year’s Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be a disaster. With the right conversation starters and some fun ‘did you know?’ facts, you too can make it through this year’s festivities with your head held high and all crises averted. To help you further navigate the dinner table interrogation, we used our own social listening tools to pull fun facts you can use at a moment’s notice. Here are three common holiday scenarios we’ve all experienced and some talking points based on holiday social listening data to help you create sparkling conversations and get back to the holiday meal.
Someone is going to ask about your job
Catching up on life (which often means work) is essentially a holiday tradition. That’s just a fact. And you’re going to hear a lot of assumptions about what it is people think you do in your role as social media manager.
When faced with a barrage of misconceptions, like, “so you just Tweet all day?” or “anyone can be a social media manager,” consider using this time in the spotlight to educate your family on what you do. Try using these talking points during your next holiday dinner:
- As a social media manager, I am the voice of the brand and often the first person to interact with our customers. In addition to creating content and engaging with our audience, I also have a hand in developing social strategy and digging into data analytics to inform our content.
- Part of my job is to uncover what topics have people’s attention and what’s culturally relevant. For example, did you know social listening data revealed more than 41,000 mentions of Thanksgiving recipes in the past month?
- I can uncover real-time data about holiday trends. Like this year, cheesecake, turkey and cheese are the words most frequently used in posts about Thanksgiving recipes.
The conversation will hit a lull
At some point between when the last turkey leg is consumed and first slice of pumpkin pie is dished out, the conversation will die down. But before the tryptophan takes over, consider using your social expertise to pull out some fun facts to keep your family and friends chatting. Here are some additional starters to help your holiday discussions stay lighthearted and engaging:
- Social listening data reveals 95% of people maintain positive sentiment around Thanksgiving recipes on social media. What’s your favorite holiday dish?
- Every year, people save 728 million pins related to Thanksgiving on Pinterest.
- Pinterest data reveals Thanksgiving planning starts to heat up in June and stays strong through November.
- If you’re starting your holiday shopping, know that people are expected to send roughly 40% more social messages to retail brands during the 2019 holiday season compared to the rest of the year.
Someone brings up a controversial subject
In today’s politically charged environment, there’s a good chance someone is going to steer the conversation toward politics, religion or current events—three topics that can make for tricky table talk. Or, if politics never make it to the dinner table, you might still encounter a line of questioning that leaves you feeling uncomfortable… like when you’re getting engaged, when you plan to have kids or why you can’t be more like your successful cousin. When those situations do arise, consider the following tips:
- Clearly set your boundaries by letting others know you’d like to take a break from politics (or any other subject) this holiday. Likewise, suggest establishing the dinner table as a debate-free zone.
- Always approach the person starting the conversation with understanding and try to picture yourself in their shoes before chiming in with a response.
- If you prefer not to engage in the conversation or it doesn’t feel like a productive dialogue, redirect. Suggest tabling the discussion for later, ask the host how to you can help or throw out a fun fact (like the stats above) when appropriate.
Seeking additional help on how to navigate tricky conversations during the holidays? Consider these resources on how to approach discussions on race, politics and other tough subjects at the dinner table.
Keep the conversation going
While spending copious amounts of time with family and friends can be joyous, it can also trigger feelings of anxiety depending on what’s said around the dinner table.
But the holidays don’t have to be this way and conversations about your job shouldn’t be the most stressful part of the meal. So the next time a relative asks what you do, or a guest steers the discussion into dangerous territory, consider using the prompts above to keep your Thanksgiving dinner conversations trending in a direction that leaves everyone feeling merry.