Holidays can be your social media calendar’s best friend. And yet, when it comes to striking the proper tone on public messaging, holidays can also be your organization’s worst enemy.
Take Pride Month, celebrated every June in the United States to recognize the historic contributions of members of the LGBTQ+ community. The journalist Sherina Poyyail recently wrote: “As the clock strikes midnight and we amble into June of every year, you can almost hear the sounds of disgruntled designers and social media managers who have to create and upload the rainbow coloured version of company’s logos for Pride Month.”
If your designers really are disgruntled, pause before hitting “send” on that Happy Pride Month post. Any public statement should align with your brand culture. If you lack confidence in that statement, collaborate to decide your organization’s stance on a holiday and the people it celebrates, honors, or remembers. Anticipate tough questions in advance. Never assume employees, customers, and/or business clients think in lockstep about every holiday on the social media calendar.
Here are three more tips to consider before issuing any public holiday message from your organization:
Categorize holidays and observances on your social calendar by their risk factor, then decide if they should be addressed on your social channels at all:
- Slam dunk: Christmas, Labor Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, New Year’s Eve
- Borderline: Flag Day, Valentine’s Day
- Proceed with caution: Juneteenth, Columbus Day, Earth Day, Pride Month
You’ll want more time to discuss hot-button holidays. Carefully decide how each event appeals to your audience and stakeholders. Identify the potential pitfalls, which will vary from organization to organization.
For each holiday, ask: Is your position clearly verbalized internally to leadership and staff?
Methods of communication vary between organizations, too. It’s important for those in positions of leadership to know when and how individuals on staff like to be approached. When communicating with a larger group - internally or externally - use consistent language and tone across all media and/or forms of communication.
Be prepared to respond publicly about your stance and/or beliefs.
“We have to say something” isn’t a reason to justify a social media post. If your organization cannot respond to public criticism, don’t issue the post at all.
Not every detail of your organization’s internal discussions needs to be shared externally -- in fact, individuals should feel free to share their strongest thoughts and feelings in private. For the days, weeks and months your staff is most passionate about, it’s OK to reflect that passion in your social media messaging.
The last step is also the first: Listen. Some customers or clients will only share their feelings about your organization’s holiday message after it has been issued publicly. Take their compliments or criticisms as an opportunity to learn. It will help you understand who’s reading, sharing, and commenting - positively or negatively - on your social posts. Form a strategy for responding when appropriate.
And don’t forget to celebrate.