It’s finally October and the leaves are turning, the conkers are falling and the weather is turning cool. We’re in the middle of autumn and it feels good to be embracing a new season. But with November approaching, and the Very Christmas advert startling all of us into a blind festive panic — is it time to start planning our Christmas content already?
For some companies, their Christmas content is already planned and ready — grouped by the predicted festive trends, the virtual catwalks of 2020 and the anticipated themes of the oncoming holiday, ready to be distributed from the 25th of November and not a second earlier. But for others, planning their Christmas content can be more of a process, playing the long game to truly grasp the core trends of 2021 and provide their followers with live-action content in line with this ever-changing year.
We know the John Lewis Christmas advert is already on its way and the frighteningly organised shoppers have started planning their festive purchases, so it might be a good time to start brainstorming some ideas, but is it really time to start creating your content schedule?
Researching the upcoming Christmas trends is going to be a key part of your marketing plans, from figuring out future colour palettes to establishing key themes and narratives to adopt. This is the time to look into what the major marketing agencies are discussing at the moment, figuring out what the audience is expecting and discovering what the major advertisers are going to be promoting this year.
Perhaps the core theme of this year will be a ‘normal Christmas’, after the confusion and isolation of 2020? Perhaps it will be an eco-Christmas, following from the climate change movement? Perhaps it will be a low budget Christmas, focusing on being together rather than splashing out? It’s impossible to know for certain but it’s a good tactic to start paying attention to the slow-building whispers of Christmas marketing to come.
Start searching through the seasonal hashtags on social media, to find out if there are any early releases to keep an eye on. Certain magazines and publications have already begun publishing their Christmas content, whether through home decor, fashion and style or lifestyle pieces, so make sure to stock up on them. Even in-store decorations have begun to creep out in some of the largest department stores so take an afternoon to take a stroll along your high street to pick out any fresh themes emerging.
Building up a bank of information about festive trends is a great way to prepare yourself, even from very early on, for the creation of your Christmas content.
As you get slightly closer, it’s a good idea to start sketching out your content plan — focusing on the amount and distribution of the content, rather than the detail. You need to start carving out time in your calendar to work on the graphic design and photography required for your content, you need to begin planning the number of posts per social media channel you want to share and the date you want to start posting from. You can also start thinking about the different types of content you want to make — is it purely photo-based or are you going to start creating video content too? Are you going to focus on hashtags and engagement or a ‘show and tell’ style of marketing?
It’s also a good idea to set up your social planning structure now too, creating the necessary documents, folders, Trello and Asana boards and shared workspaces for your Christmas content. The more time you can spend investing in these early planning stages, the easier your workload should be as you get closer to December.
Another element to consider is long-form content or copywriting pieces. Marketing materials like press releases, blog posts, magazine articles and white papers need to be coming together and distributed to the right channels between now and November to give you the best chance of making it into a Christmas publication.
When it comes to Christmas content, your marketing strategy should ideally be split into two different styles — pre-made batch content and real-time responsive marketing. Whilst your responsive marketing will have to wait until late November/December, the time to work on your batch content is now.
Once you’ve established a key theme for your marketing efforts, you can begin creating the right content for it. This is the time to draft and schedule your social media posts, design your assets and make any changes to your digital strategy to factor in your chosen theme. Say, for example, you chose to focus on an eco-friendly Christmas, then you’ll need to start building up a backlog of posts advertising your environmentally-friendly products, your tips for an eco-friendly holiday, the best festive stats about the earth and how your company is working to support climate activism this year.
You could also make some small changes to your branding, factoring in the festive season with some subtle snowflakes, winter scenes or palette changes. You can adapt your social media bios to reflect your new Christmas content and start getting your followers excited for your festive posts.
It’s also a great idea to start promoting any chances for engagement you have coming up i.e. Christmas competitions, giveaways, post series or challenges you plan to complete. The more you can grow your following now, the better your stats will be come December.
responsive marketing part i
As we reach the last couple of weeks in November, the Christmas adverts will begin to roll out and it’s the perfect time to start your responsive marketing. This is a great opportunity to work with the trends that appear, whether it’s engaging with some of the festive hashtags, recreating some of the most popular adverts with your own products, creating campaign-inspired pieces or even commenting on some of the most popular posts.
You have the chance here to humanise your brand, working in real-time to be witty, engaging and fun in response to the trends that are rapidly emerging. But you can also use these early releases to make any final decisions over your own marketing strategies for the coming month. If you’ve created a post that doesn’t work with the overarching themes of Christmas 2021, you now have time to change it. If one of your competitors has just produced a design similar to yours, you have the opportunity to remodel it. You can take your time going through and making any modifications necessary to help perfect your strategy before the big month arrives.
responsive marketing part ii
As December arrives and your scheduled posts start to be released, you can start carrying out the second phase of your responsive marketing. This can include responding to festive world events, releasing any surprise content or competitions, reacting to user engagement and sharing updates on your own business/personal Christmas experiences.
This is also a good time to share any fun behind-the-scenes content for your audience, perhaps a timelapse of you decorating the office Christmas tree or playing Secret Santa. Followers like to feel connected to the businesses they buy from, and they enjoy feeling part of the process, so inviting them into certain company rituals and routines in the festive season is a great marketing tactic. Charitable actions are also a good idea throughout the season of giving and it’s a great opportunity to try and raise some awareness of the causes you support through your brand and marketing.
Reactive marketing is also going to be useful here, as you can engage with fun, festive or silly news stories that pop up. Perhaps a giant Santa balloon got stuck in a London high street and you decided to re-create the scene out of Post-It notes? Maybe a dog is delivering presents around your local high street and you manage to grab a picture of it? Or perhaps there’s a national mince pie shortage that you can make a great meme about?
Finally, the countdown to Christmas begins and it’s a great idea to start sharing your Christmas countdown marketing content. There are so many great countdowns and series your business can partake in, throughout the countdown to Christmas day such as:
- Opening one advent calendar box live every day
- 12 days of case studies
- Christmas quiz questions
- Festive questions with staff i.e. ‘Worst present you’ve ever recieved’
- 12 days of Office Dogs
- Christmas countdown in Christmas songs
- An ugly Christmas jumper for every day of December
- For the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…X product
It’s fun to get creative here and really think about how to make your countdown special. You want to find a marketing plan that will have your followers hooked and tuning in every day to find out more.
As you release your content, you can keep engaging online right until you finish work for the season and sign off your content with a final ‘Happy Holidays’ post and a nice festive photo of the team.
Christmas content planning can be overwhelming, confusing and complicated as we get nearer to the winter seasons but it’s important to stay calm and organised if we want to achieve our marketing goals. Take each week as it comes and stick to your schedule, and you’ll be absolutely fine!