Don’t Phone it in on Special Occasions


Once upon a time it was a good idea to jump on a trending topic, and to stay current.

The first time I saw this getting out of control was with the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. People realized that people liked seeing the ice bucket challenges. They got views and attention, and everyone from celebrities to small businesses, joined in. Granted, it made over $100 million for the ALS association, so while it may have gotten annoying, it was at least “for a good cause”.

Recently, within the last few weeks, I’ve seen way too much of this sort of bandwagoning. For example: #TheDress. This image quickly went viral, and advertisers were quick to join in. It was widely talked about until audiences began to automatically ignore anything on the topic. It wasn’t a very effective marketing strategy.

Also consider “March Madness”. Perhaps that gets a certain audience excited, but if you focus your advertising on it, you are ignoring all of the people who don’t care about it.

It’s not just trending hashtags though. Another common content mistake happening is people phoning it in on holidays or other days of importance. In the last few weeks I’ve been inundated with “Happy International Women’s Day”, “Happy Daylight Savings Day”, “Happy St. Patrick’s Day”, and “Happy First Day of Spring”! I call it phoning it in, because advertisers are posting this with no real enthusiasm, and no follow-up content. It’s as though they are getting a “free day” on social media, without realizing that all they are doing is lumping themselves in with all the other posts that audience eyes will glaze over. People don’t subscribe to multiple different pages just to end up seeing the same thing from all of them on some days.

There is a lack of originality in doing this, and there is also a lack of alignment with business goals, branding, and consumer expectations. There is also a risk in watering down meaningful topics. Have you ever heard Valentine’s Day called a “Hallmark Holiday” because of its connection to consumerism? An expectation of buying cards, stuffed animals, and boxes of chocolates for loved ones has caused meaning and enthusiasm for the day to dwindle. This year we saw a great deal of criticism when advertisers jumped in with “Happy Women’s Day” on International Women’s Day, with a complete lack of sensitivity toward the international efforts to raise awareness of political and economic disadvantaged woman worldwide. You definitely don’t want to risk offending people in this way.

I have two suggestions (besides the underlying tip that you should always research something before you post about it):

  • Have a content calendar, based on your marketing plan. Follow this plan, and never have to “phone it in” on any day.
  • Post according to your regular schedule, and then add into your social media posts a mention of the designated holiday. For example “Today we have a post on Original Facebook Content! Take a read while you are enjoying a Shamrock Shake or a Green Beer on this St. Paddy’s Day!”

Following these two tips will ensure that you continue being known as a high-quality content provider.