The holiday season isn’t just a time for hot chocolate, snowball fights,and family—it’s also a prime opportunity for companies to engage with customers through social media. But in the blizzard of posts, tweets,and Internet memes that accompany the holidays, how can companies and social marketers know what messages will resonate with their audiences? And with work schedules so irregular, do the usual timing guidelines still apply?
Before the new year got too long in the tooth, Hearsay Social’s resident data nerds decided to take a look at 2011’s holiday season by the numbers.
Our conclusion was startling: if 2011 is representative of most years, engagement is 13 times higher on New Year’s Day than on Christmas!
We drew the raw material for our analysis from over 300K posts made by more than 10K Facebook pages in the final quarter of 2011. For each post, we measured customer engagement by counting the total number of likes and comments, then normalized by the size of the company’s fan base and aggregated by day of week. Most non-holiday weeks fit a consistent pattern of initially low engagement on Mondays, fluctuating slightly over the week before peaking on Saturdays. The week of Christmas, however, was unusual not only for having particularly poor engagement on Monday, but for a sustained period of low engagement during the latter half of the week. That low continued into the beginning of the next week before increasing to roughly normal levels in the middle of the week and skyrocketing on New Year’s Day.
Though a single year of data isn’t definitive, our findings are certainly suggestive—perhaps Facebook is quiet on Christmas, when we spend time with our families, while New Year’s Day is particularly active as we share stories and pictures from the holidays and get ready to return to work. Given the magnitude of the difference between the two holidays, the message for social businesses is clear: social media campaigns on New Year’s Day deserve just as much planning and attention as those on Christmas.