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Vocus Questions: Ann Handley on Holiday Content Marketing

Every smart marketer knows that creating compelling search and social media content is the key to attracting, engaging, and retaining customers. Without it, you’ve got nothing – no matter how excellent your product is or what marketing tools you might have in place.

The holidays are now in full swing, which is an opportunity to connect with your audience on a more personal and lighthearted level.

Ann Handley, Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs and co-author of Content Rules, took a moment to share her tips with us on creating holiday content that sticks.


Vocus: What are some key things to keep in mind about creating holiday content?

AH: The holidays provide businesses with a way to connect with the audience on a more human level. They allow us to communicate as people about family and what makes us unique. This is especially true for companies that have a hard time creating more relaxed, less-corporate content the rest of the year. Very often, the holidays give them a good excuse to lighten up and show some color.

Want more holiday content and search tips? Check out our Holiday Marketing Guides here.

Show how people in your company celebrate or honor certain traditions. This gives your customers and prospects an idea of the people and personalities that make your company what it is. It’s also a great time to showcase any charitable activities your company might participate in.

Can you use holiday content to positively affect your business post-holidays and keep the customers you gain?

The smartest companies treat all of their content – not just their holiday content – not as a one-and-done campaign, but rather, as a piece of a larger story. By “larger story”, I mean a bigger expression of what your company is, and what its perspective and purpose is.

So absolutely use the holidays as a chance to showcase your human side, but also relate any content you create there to your bigger story, your larger purpose in life, the reason you exist.

How can business owners set their holiday content apart from the competition?

Well, I hope a company is looking to create content that sets it apart all year round… and not just at the holiday season. A great holiday video won’t necessarily set you apart on its own. But as a piece of a larger story, it can.

For example, I love how First Round Capital creates holiday videos that have become highly anticipated. In 2008, First Round created its own holiday version of “Dancing Matt.” A year later, the execs sang, “I Dreamed a Dream,” in an epic mashup. In 2010, First Round Partner Josh Kopelman wore a muscled bodysuit a la the Old Spice guy. And last year, its portfolio companies sang Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

These videos work because they exist as part of First Round’s larger story – their content is innovative and fun. And similarly, First Round funds some innovative, fun, interesting companies!

Do you have any suggestions on how to create great holiday content?

 Here are two ideas:

1. Share photos of your employees or customers celebrating or honoring whatever traditions they celebrate. It could be as simple as a cubicle-decorating contest…or it might be larger than your company, too. For example, show employees volunteering at a local canned food drive, or participating in community events. Doing so adds color and personality to your page and also makes your company inherently human.

2. Run a charitable giving program – maybe offer a marching campaign for a favorite charity.

At MarketingProfs, we love using the holidays to engage with our fans on a more personal level, particularly on Facebook. We like to ask open-ended questions to encourage interaction. Something like, “What’s the one food your Thanksgiving table always has?” You get a lot of great stories that way, and some great fodder for connection!

For more advice from Ann and other marketing experts in our Holiday Guides, click here.

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