Raise your hand if you participated in some form of Halloween-related social media posting, sharing, or liking last week.
If your social platforms looked anything like mine, you can all put your hands down now. Even if you, personally, don’t love the holiday (ahem), it’s likely that you didn’t escape seeing your friends’ costumes, your parents’ perfectly carved pumpkins, or your best friend’s rant about how much she hates it, too. Most importantly, you probably witnessed all of this on your Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+, and YouTube accounts.
If you’re looking for easy ways to jump start your social media following, engage your community in relevant conversations, and promote your brand in an impactful way, Halloween taught us this: It’s more simple than we think it is. All we need to do is engage our communities around the things they’re already talking about. Sure, super creative, original social media campaigns are awesome. But inserting yourself in conversations people are already having can be just as, if not more, effective.
Check out these three easy, often-overlooked conversation starters.
I think we’d all agree that, whether we like it or not, there’s no talking point that unites people more than the holidays. So, how can you leverage all of that sharing? First, post holiday-related photos, questions, games, and contests on your platforms, and tag them with the most relevant holiday-themed hashtags (like #Halloween, #Thanksgiving, and #Christmas). If you want to take it a step further, ask your community to share photos, videos, and stories about their holiday experiences using a dedicated hashtag (like #GoogleHalloween), and repost your favorites.
While you should engage in a way that makes sense for your brand or product, there are more ways to do so than you might think. Here are a few examples of big brands piggybacking on the Halloween hype:
2. Current Events
Another way to quickly engage people on social media? Current events. (If you’ve taken a peek at your News Feed recently, you’re well aware.) Posting about the latest news—from the World Series and Miley Cyrus to the government shutdown—is a great way to insert your brand into a global conversation. And because the social media world loves a good laugh, if you can add a bit of humor to the conversation, you can raise your brand’s cool factor exponentially. (Just, of course, be careful. If you offend your community with your stance or opinion on a touchy issue—or look like you’re taking advantage of others’ plight, à la the much-criticized Hurricane Sandy sales—you can hurt your reputation big time.)
Here are a few brands, courtesy of Mashable, that successfully attached themselves to the Twitter conversation around the government shutdown:
3. National Months and Days
If you’re looking for a fun, impactful way to excite your community, check out this National Day Calendar. This month, for example, is Adopt a Senior Pet Month, Banana Pudding Lovers Month, Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, Movember, Lung Cancer Awareness Month, National Novel Writing Month, and Sweet Potato Month, among others. November also celebrates National Fig Week, Pursuit of Happiness Week, National Game & Puzzle Week, as well as National Fill Our Staplers Day, National Gin Day, Origami Day, World Kindness Day, International Men’s Day, and (who comes up with these?) Have a Bad Day Day.
If you read the same list I just did, you’re probably already brainstorming fun commentary you can build around some of these days. For example, if you own a restaurant, post fig-related recipes during National Fig Week, and ask your community to share their own. During National Gin Day, post your favorite gin cocktail recipes, and ask your followers to rate them.
To take it a step further, incorporate a promotional element, like a 10% discount for all men on International Men’s Day. And if there’s a cause or charity that’s close to your heart, like Lung Cancer Awareness, use your platform to share the ways your brand is supporting the cause—like fundraising through a company run—and how others can get involved.
Finding ways to add your brand’s voice to conversations your community is already having is beneficial for several reasons: First, the content is timely and relevant. Second, it makes your brand feel human, which makes it more appealing and approachable. Third, the hard part—starting the conversation—has been done for you. It’s like showing up to a huge party that someone else organized. All you have to do is be your smart, compelling, fun self, and you’ll make tons of new friends in no time.
And lastly, the numbers don’t lie: At last look, there are almost 19 million photos tagged #Halloween on Instagram. So, even if you hate the holiday, don’t hate the hashtag.