When Should Brands Stay Away From the Holiday Cheer
’tis the season to be jolly, share, care and, if you’re a brand, try and muscle in on some of the holiday action to boost sales and awareness. With people looking for gift inspiration, comparison shopping or just hanging around the internet with too much time on their hands, it’s not hard to see why brands prioritise campaigns around the holidays. Here are some things to consider before you do.
You May Just Be Adding to the Noise
One Facebook minute translates into 510 comments, 293,000 status updates, and 136,000 photo uploads. And this is just Facebook. Brands struggle with breaking through this noise and reaching their target audience every time they engage with them on social media, meaning every video, photo or status update has to be planned, thought out and executed creatively enough to hit its mark.
Depending on the type of brand you represent, this investment in concept, design, execution and follow-up may or may not be worth your while considering the avalanche of other, very similar messages your audience is trying to filter out. Where an eCommerce brand will likely push promos like there’s no tomorrow, a services company, doing little business during this period will likely only post the same, stale Christmas wishes we see over and over and over and over and over every year. (See? It is repetitive and boring.)
A good rule of thumb, as with every social media post is, whether or not you have something exciting to communicate. Trust me, people know it’s Christmas without being told for the umpteenth time. Have you thought of a cool way of showcasing something related to Christmas that will make your audience feel all warm and fuzzy inside or rally around an important cause? No, then there’s no shame in zipping it ’till after the holidays.
You Might End Up Insulting People
Unless you’re sure your audience does indeed celebrate Christmas and not Hanukkah or nothing at all, you might have a hard time delivering anything but a very generic message that, to an audience consisting of mixed religious denominations and non-religious people, will only serve to prove you understand precious little about them. There’s also the possibility that in a digital ecosystem in which audiences have come to expect personalization, they might even find your ignorance offensive.
If you do have the content to support a tailored message you should deliver it through customized targeting rather than posting globally. Yes, that means messages for every audience segment. It’s very important to remember that you are not your brand and, therefore, should not use your brand as a soapbox to express personal beliefs. In other words, unless you sell statues of saints and your audience consists of people with multiple faiths, there’s no reason to wish them a Merry Christmas and not bother wishing your audience a Happy Hanukkah.
Your Branding Might Take a Hit
When you’re rinsing and repeating last year’s Christmas well-wishing and you’re also relying on it to win a competition with thousands of brands and users, you’re likely to see little engagement with said posts. This means that not only are you wasting time, effort and money, but you’re affecting, albeit slightly, how social networks measure the relevance of your posts, as well as your brand’s image.
Sometimes brands don’t put the same level of effort into branding their holiday posts as they would normally do, especially since they see these actions as something nice to have for awareness, or worse – something they have to do because everyone’s doing it. This obviously leads to poorly-branded, stale posts that can turn out to work against all the effort you’ve put into creating a distinctive brand image throughout the year.
The Bottom Line
While the holidays seems like a great time to get some free exposure for your brand, unless your approach is creative, your content compelling and your execution memorable, you may do more harm than good. Social media participation for brands should be selective in general and even more so during the holidays, when audiences are interested in more specific actions and are even quicker to filter out the noise your trying to break through or may even have a hand in creating.
On the other hand, with the right approach, social media can support you in humanising your brand, provided that you work based on a solid strategy and keep true to your branding and the image you’ve built throughout the year.