From important events like Women’s Day to silly ‘hashtag holidays’, there’s an occasion for just about everything on social media. While they’re not on traditional calendars, hashtag holidays are taken seriously online.

Some create awareness around social and environmental issues, while others are just an excuse to have a laugh (and a good reason for marketers to get creative).

Important days and hashtag holidays are often opportunities to increase engagement and reach new audiences.

Make The Most Of The #Holidays In Social Media

How To Pick The Right #Holiday

There are so many days and occasions to choose from, it might seem difficult to choose the right one for your brand. If you’re feeling stuck, just ask yourself three questions.

1. Is the day relevant?

Does the celebration or issue resonate with your brand? You could likely find a way to make #InternationalNinjaDay work for a financial services provider on LinkedIn, but would that tie in with brand tone and values? And would it work on LinkedIn? Probably not.

Your audience doesn’t want to feel like you’re just hijacking a hashtag or commemorative day. Bear this in mind, because you could lose rather than gain following by aligning a brand with the wrong event. A lipstick company, for example, might not be a believable supporter of World Autism Day and a cosmetics company’s campaign surrounding autism spectrum disorders could alienate people, not win influence.

When it comes to platform, go where the hashtags are. The obvious choices are Twitter and Instagram, but always do your research.

2. Is there any overlap?

Be careful that the day you choose doesn’t overlap with another holiday. Unless you want it to, of course. #Festivus, on 23 December, is very close to Christmas Eve and the heavy marketing that goes with the holiday season. If your brand and audience have a sense of humor (and a grumpy bent), #Festivus might be right for you. It was created by character Frank Costanza of sitcom Seinfeld to combat the commercialization of Christmas. It involves the ‘airing of grievances’ – perfect for anyone on Twitter feeling some seasonal outrage.

3. What’s the right hashtag?

Often hashtags differ simply because of typos or mistakes. July’s Pina Colada Day, for example, tends to be written either as #NationalPinaColadaDay (the correct hashtag) or #PinaColadaDay (often the more popular hashtag). As a rule, shorter hashtags are preferred, so keep this in mind. At the same time, use data to make sure you’re on the right track.

Use your analytics to listen to the conversations happening around the hashtags online. Track two – or more – versions of the hashtag and pick the one that comes up most often. Being correct isn’t important here. If the most popular hashtag isn’t the official one, it’s still going to get you better traction than something nobody’s using. Remember that this could change from year to year, so it’s better to do the research yourself than rely on somebody else’s research.

Tip: You don’t always need to use a standard hashtag (see our Women’s Day case study below). If you’re posting with messaging that resonates on a specific important international day, timing is more important than hashtagging.

Case Study: Women’s Day 2017

There were more than 7.5 million tweets related to International Women’s Day on 8 March. #IWD2017 and #InternationalWomensDay were the two top trending hashtags on Twitter. You’ll notice how the hashtag is used differently in these celebrity posts for Women’s Day 2017, and how some brands broke the rules completely.

Diane Kruger

Today and everyday ❤ #International WomensDay #tothewomeninmylifewhotaughtmethisandgavemeasenseofhumorandpurpose

A post shared by Diane Kruger (@dianekruger) on

Nike Women

Nike is a brand that gets powerful content right. This year for Women’s Day they launched three short videos targeted at audiences in the Turkey, Russia, and the Middle East. The moving videos were about what made girls, girls. The message is that being ‘female’ is not about gender, but rather about what you do. Their hashtag was #believeinmore. Because Nike is an empowering brand that already has a focus on women’s abilities in athletics and in general, this campaign made perfect sense without using #IWD2017 or #InternationalWomensDay.

Juanita Phillip

Oxford University

Oxford University’s singing Oxford Bellas released a music video on YouTube that was a take on Cyndi Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. They switched the ‘fun’ into ‘fundamental rights’. The Bellas did well in raising money for local women’s rights group Oxfordshire, Forward, and The Malala Fund. This was a good mix of sense of humour and passion for a cause.

Sydney Boy’s High

Prefects from Sydney Boys High starred in a video called ‘Feminism is important to me because…’ They recited quotes from women explaining the importance of feminism. These quotes came from teachers, sisters, mothers, and friends. One of the most poignant quotes was: ‘Feminism is important to me because a few months ago a guy decided for me that I wanted to have sex with. I didn’t want to.’ Men and women alike were touched by the video, which hinted at the potential of younger generations to make a change in the world. If internet backlash is anything to go by, this might have been the most successful Women’s Day 2017 campaign. There was an enormous outcry after the video was posted online.

Tech companies

Tech companies, so often accused of discriminating against women, made a strong statement on social media this Women’s Day.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai told Twitter that, ‘We’re proud to honor amazing women pioneers and committed to supporting women everywhere #InternationalWomensDay.’ He linked to a post about women ‘running the world’ on Google’s blog and wore a red ribbon in solidarity of women’s rights at a conference shortly after this post.

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted to Twitter that women’s rights are human rights.

Mark Zuckerberg chose not to post anything.

Fun Hashtag Holidays Coming Up

Did you know there was such a thing as #NationalBeerDay? We’ve rounded up some of the most interesting – and quirky – hashtag holidays still coming up in 2017.

April National Beer Day #NationalBeerDay (7th) Pet Day #NationalPetDay (11th) National Honesty Day #NationalHonestyDay (30th)
May Thank a Teacher Day #ThankATeacher (2nd) No Dirty Dishes Day #NoDirtyDishesDay (18th) Hamburger Day #NationalHamburgerDay (28th)
June Doughnut Day #NationalDonutDay (2nd) Best Friends Day #NationalBestFriendsDay (8th) Selfie Day #NationalSelfieDay (21st)
July Pina Colada Day #NationalPinaColadaDay (10th) French Fry Day #NationalFrenchFryDay (13th) Moon Day #NationalMoonDay (20th)
August Tell a Joke Day #NationalTellAJoke (16th) Day Dog Day #NationalDogDay (26th) Just Because Day #JustBecauseDay (27th)
September Read a Book Day #ReadABookDay (6th) International Dot Day #InternationalDotDay (15th) International Day of Peace #InternationalDayOfPeace (21st)
October International Coffee Day #InternationalCoffeeDay (1st) Taco Day #NationalTacoDay (4th) World Mental Health Day #WorldMentalHealthDay (10th)
November Candy Day #NationalCandyDay (4th) World Kindness Day #WorldKindnessDay (13th) Unfriend Day #NationalUnfriendDay (17th)
December International Ninja Day #InternationalNinjaDay (5th) Thank You Note Day #ThankYouNoteDay (26th) Bacon Day #BaconDay (30th)

Important Days To Remember Every Year

Some hashtag holidays are just for fun, while other days could give your brand a chance to take a stand on an important issue. We’ve rounded up the top 15 important days celebrated around the world every year. You can find the full list on the UN website.

1. 4 February World Cancer Day 9. 12 August International Youth Day
2. 3 March World Wildlife Day (A/RES/68/205) 10. 5 September International Day of Charity
3. 8 March International Women’s Day 11. 5 October World Teachers’ Day [UNESCO] (27 C/INF.7)
4. 20 March International Day of Happiness (A/RES/66/281) 12. 10 October World Mental Health Day
5. 2 April World Autism Awareness Day 13. 14 November World Diabetes Day
6. 31 May World No-Tobacco Day 14. 1 December World AIDS Day
7. 5 June World Environment Day 15. 10 December Human Rights Day
8. 14 June World Blood Donor Day

Whether you choose to take a light hearted or a serious approach to hashtag holidays and important events, always keep your brand values and audience top of mind. Don’t feel the need to follow the crowd. Pick your timing and approach carefully, and plan ahead to guarantee success. Visit the National Day Calendar for more ideas.