For those who didn’t know, Monday marked International Women’s Day. In fact, March 2021 is both Women’s History and International Women’s Month. I must confess, I had no idea! That was until I looked at my social media… post after post filled my feeds across LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with messages of celebration, recognition and empowerment. Content from my personal contacts, brands I follow and paid promotions, were there to remind me of the significance of the day, throughout the day. (And there was me thinking the only reason to celebrate on Monday was ‘Kids Go Back To School Day’!) Some of the messaging and content resonated with me, but I found many posts did not. With Mother’s Day and Easter just around the corner, it raised the question ‘when should a brand post about a popular date?’
When thinking about what to post on social media, looking at popular calendar dates and events is often an easy place to start. However, when commenting on a well-known date, it’s important to ensure it is handled with sensitivity and authenticity.
Here are 5 things to consider when preparing a post for a popular calendar date or event:
1. Is this date/event a natural fit for us and our audience, or are we jumping on the bandwagon?
Authenticity is so important when joining a wider conversation or commenting on an event. Understanding your own brand values, your tone of voice, your audience, and importantly your company’s position on various subjects is key. In addition to this, understanding the origins of the day in question is equally important. Many key dates are, at their heart, rooted in a political or socio-economic movement. You need to be confident that this is something you feel equipped to comment on as a brand.
If your usual posts are of a more serious nature, then posting a meme or jovial post could feel out of place to your audience. Equally, if your brand is known for more light-hearted or comedic content, then would it feel flippant to comment on a serious issue?
2. Do we have something interesting/valuable/shareable to say?
If not, then why are you posting? What value are you giving your audience? Is it something that is of interest or importance to your audience? Sometimes it may be simply to show solidarity or be part of a widespread celebration, like at Easter or Christmas. Even then, how can you make your content original and enjoyable? Creating specific content appropriate for each platform can be a good way to add value and your opinion to a subject. Engaging content that stands out becomes shareable content which will increase your reach.
On the flip side, social feeds often become saturated during key dates. With both personal and business profiles posting in volume across the day, the likelihood of your post being seen reduces significantly. Therefore, ask yourself whether it is worth the time and effort to create a themed post or if that manpower is better spent focusing on your core content plan.
3. Will people expect to hear from us today?
If the event is of a sensitive or emotional nature, then does your business have a legitimate reason to join the conversation? If we take this week’s International Women’s Day as an example, it raises a topic which needs to be handled with sensitivity and understanding. The campaign’s core purpose is to raise awareness of gender equality. This year, they led with the hashtag #ChooseToChallenge and the campaign asks ‘How will you help forge a gender equal world?’ Certain brands – especially those targeting women – are expected to be present in the conversation and make clear their position on the issue. But before brands consider joining the conversation, they should question whether they are walking the walk as a business and employer.
Even if the message might be difficult, it is important to ask yourself whether it could appear strange if you are not part of the conversation.
4. Will it look like we are exploiting a serious subject for our own personal gain?
The event must either be relevant enough to your brand to warrant your association, or generic enough for it not to matter. Last year, Shell marked International Women’s Day by changing it’s name to SHE’LL for one day – but only at one petrol station. The move was widely mocked with some observers believing it a hoax! The gesture appeared disingenuous and superficial. It also provided campaigners with a springboard for further criticism of the company’s environmental impact.
It is always worth questioning your motives before posting on a controversial or emotive day, ensuring that your reasons are genuine.
5. Have we judged the tone correctly?
Your creative treatment and choice of words can make or break your involvement with a special event. Often the rationale for posting is sound and a brand can have a legitimate link to the date, but poor execution can be the downfall of many good intentions.
Cadbury famously got into hot water in 2017 for the branding of their ‘Cadbury’s Egg Hunt’, criticised by Church leaders and even the Prime Minister for ‘air-brushing faith’ by removing the word ‘Easter’ from the title. What likely began as a decision to avoid any religious controversy ended up courting it.
If you are a small business and are unsure about how to address a topic, then it can be helpful to run your posts past other members of your team to ensure that the tone and message you’re using is appropriate.
To sum up, if I were to Google ‘popular dates’, I would find an almost complete calendar of themed days, weeks and months to fill my content plan. From the more traditional and established celebrations such as Christmas and Father’s Day, to recognised dates that have emerged more recently to highlight issues such as Climate Change and Mental Health. Look a little further and you’ll find ‘National Day for Pets’ and the more obscure ‘Selfie Day’! When deciding whether to incorporate any of these dates into your social media content plan, it is important to go back to the fundamental foundations of your marketing communications strategy to ensure authenticity. What is your unique proposition? What do you stand for? Who are you trying to reach? And therefore, why is this particular date important to you as a brand?
Are you struggling with your social media content plan? Get in touch to see how we can help.
Copy developed from original content written by Harriet Mears, Digital Marketing Consultant. Your Marketing Team, March 2019.