Hopefully you already know this by now, but maintaining active social media accounts is a great way to humanize a brand. And holiday posts give you an opportunity to humanize your brand even further. However, holiday marketing means treading in some potentially dangerous waters as we’ve all witnessed with the latest Starbucks red cup debacle. The holidays require a special approach, and while you probably won’t have to tweak your strategy drastically, you should have a plan in place to help you leverage seasonal trends and avoid an end-of-the-year social media crisis. We’ve created a list of 10 do’s and don’ts to follow when managing your social media accounts and campaigns this holiday season.

 Do: Choose A Holiday Theme

Your home shouldn’t be the only thing decorated for the holidays. Almost every company is going to be running some form of holiday campaign on social media. In order to create a consistent story it’s a good idea to choose a holiday theme you can develop throughout the season. Joy? Compassion? Celebration? You’ll want to keep both your messaging and designs aligned with whatever theme you decide to elaborate on.

Don’t: Use The Holidays To Sell More

Branded social media christmas ad For a majority of the population, the holidays involve some kind of religious or cultural significance. This is exactly why you must proceed with caution when it comes to using holiday imagery, verbiage, or metaphors to market your business. Put some additional thought into who your target audience is and how they may react to your holiday social media campaign. It’s best to err on the side of caution and focus on brand awareness rather than sales messaging.

Do: Adjust Your Posting Schedule

Buffer social media calendar The weeks surrounding Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and New Year’s are typically close to dead in terms of social media brand engagement. Keeping this in mind, you should adjust your posting calendar accordingly so you don’t annoy your followers with unwanted brand messages mixed into their updates from family and friends.

Don’t: Neglect Your Social Media Accounts

We get it, the holidays means you’ll be tied up with extra year-end meetings, social events, and holiday preparations. With all of the holiday hustle and bustle, it’s very easy to let your social media marketing slip. However, it’s incredibly important that your brand maintains a strong social media presence. If you haven’t already, begin getting acquainted with scheduling apps like Buffer or Hootsuite. Using these applications, you’ll be able to schedule your posts ahead of time so you don’t have to worry about publishing them further down the road.

Do: Run A Holiday Contest Or Giveaway

Facebook Christmas Giveaway The holidays are all about generosity and nothing says generous quite like giving away gifts to your loyal social media fans through social media contests and giveaways. In creating a contest, try to pick something to give away that’s enticing enough to be shareable, but isn’t so generic that you end up filling your social profiles with droves of new followers who won’t ever become customers. Looking for contest inspiration? These three fun social media holiday contests are worth checking out.

Don’t: Forget About Snail Mail

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the digital box. Pair your social media efforts with traditional forms of communication as well. A handwritten note or a professional holiday card still has a place in today’s digital world.

Do: Post Company Celebration Photos

Social media Christmas party The holidays are a time for celebration and you’ll no doubt want to celebrate the completion of yet another successful business year. However, when it comes to sharing your company celebrations on social media, it pays to be prudent. A photo or two at the start of your team holiday party is perfectly fine. It’s worth noting that if your brand has had any reputation or performance issues in the past year, it’s probably best to refrain from posting any celebration photos. Your followers won’t be happy to see you celebrating in light of those events and you’ll want to avoid a spew of hateful comments, even if your post is nothing more than an innocent staff photo.

Don’t: Go Overboard With Said Celebration Photos

Social media holiday pictures As we previously mentioned, it’s great for your followers to have an inside look at your company culture with holiday celebration photos, but don’t go overboard with these photos. You won’t want to post any pictures you take as the night progresses and the party devolves. On a similar note, if you’re live posting the event, don’t drink and post. That won’t end well.

Do: Share Follower Holiday Posts

While it’s a good idea to be restrained with celebration posts from your own company, by all means go crazy with holiday posts from your followers. Invite your followers to post holiday pictures showcasing your product or service. You may even want to create your own hashtag for a follower sharing campaign. Last year we partnered with our friends at DPro Marketing to run a holiday campaign entitled, “Tis’ The Reason.” We shared a series of videos to our social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and Tumblr) in which we donated thousands of dollars to randomly selected members of our community. We then invited followers to share their own acts of generosity using the hashtag #tisthereason. If your followers share any pictures or posts with you be sure to show them some love by featuring them on your brand page.

Don’t: Go Hashtag Crazy

This is a bit of a general rule, but it still applies to the holidays. There will undoubtedly be many trending holiday hashtags on the rise within the next couple of weeks (#silverbells anyone?) In fact, if you’re at a loss for holiday hashtags to use, there’s a great post by Training Authors that includes 106 hashtags for the holidays. What we’re advising is that you don’t just jump on the next trending hashtag without first researching what the hashtag is all about. You don’t want to end up becoming the next DiGiorno’s pizza of Twitter. Furthermore, try to limit your holiday hashtags to two per post. You don’t want to come of as being spammy or your post engagement rate could suffer.

In Conclusion

With some careful thought, a clear plan, and extra attentiveness to your followers, you can drive some great results with your holiday social media marketing strategy. There’s a lot of fun to be had during the holiday season, especially on social media. Develop your strategy, execute it, and have fun doing it. We’re rooting for you. Are there any other social media do’s and don’ts that you’d recommend for the most wonderful time of the year? We’d love to hear them! Leave us a comment below. For more social media tips, tricks, and hints, be sure to check out the rest of our social media marketing blog.