We’re living in an era of constant celebration. Every day, it seems, there is a slew of increasingly eccentric events. #SmallBizSaturday. #MayThe4thBeWithYou. #GlutenFreeCupcakeDay. The “Hallmark holidays” of 10 years ago have not been replaced, but rather transformed into a slew of hashtag holidays, born of brands’ need to sell and the content marketers’ need to constantly have something to say. There has been such an influx of so-called social media holidays that even the New York Times has taken notice, recognizing that the “United States has created a number of new holidays that incorporate two very American traits: self-invention and an excuse to sell products.”

When used correctly, a calendar of social media holidays can provide a framework on which to structure and curate your content. Now there really is always something to talk about. Question is: should you (and your brand) RSVP to all these social media “events”?

Luckily, the same set of party manners you learned back in middle school can help you decide. So get out your white gloves and party manners, go down the three-step checklist and make both Grandma and your content marketing team proud.

 1.) What are we celebrating?

First things first: do your homework. If you’re not sure what the holiday is about, then don’t participate. One of the most appealing aspects of social media is being spontaneous, but that doesn’t give you a free pass to crash the party with irrelevant content. Evaluate how (and what) you can really contribute. If you’re working at a SaaS startup and it’s National Spay Your Pet Day, then unless you have an office dog, it may make more sense to stick with regularly scheduled content.

Don’t overbook yourself or commit too early, either. With so many new social media holidays, there is bound to be overlap between a few—and while many are playful or lighthearted, many are national events dedicated to a greater purpose. Research what events coincide and pick the ones that make the most sense for your brand. Posting about Warm Chocolate Chip Cookie Day but ignoring Veteran’s Day, for example, may make you seem ill-informed and tasteless. Avoid this by signing up for our Weekly Sidekick and creating a content calendar to map out all upcoming holidays, events, and even celebrity birthdays. As with any prescheduled content, be sure to stay cognizant of current events as the actual day draws near. With the saddening frequency of international tragedies, you don’t want to be the one brand posting about #CinnamonBunDay during a major crisis. 

Awareness days (or weeks/months, as such as Lyme Disease Awareness Month) provide an opportunity for your brand to act as an advocate and raise awareness for the causes you support. If you/your company are involved in nonprofit or charity work, research the national holidays associated with that issue and plan content around that event to share your nonprofit work in a way that’s not overly promotional.

2.) Who invited you?

Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name. If many colleagues, clients, or competitors are participating in a social holiday, it will seem strange if you don’t show up. On the flip side, it will seem artificial and forced if you try to piggyback on any given holiday regardless of topic or audience. Keep your brand and TA top of mind—if your readers would care, then you should too. If not, then you can take the day off.

Speaking of audience, dress your content to impress when participating in a particular social media holidays. Nobody likes the guy who shows up to the themed gathering in regular street clothes. Rather than rebroadcast old contenting, create something new or recycle something topical but present it with fresh new language for the occasion. Use #InternAppreciationDay to repost your ebook about marketing and PR interns, but make sure you snazz up the caption for the holiday. 

Don’t be afraid to use a social media holiday like a networking event, too. If there is a trending topic that brands or influencers you admire are talking about, use it as an opportunity to introduce yourself and organically engage with other brands. Don’t try to make it about you, though—make sure that the content you contribute is relevant and thoughtful, even if it is just a well-timed GIF, a heartfelt post or even a simple retweet. Which leads us to…

 3.) What can I bring to the table?

You wouldn’t show up empty-handed to a party. The whole point of a social gathering is to share something (an experience, a conversation, a bottle of wine) with others. Make sure you’re actually contributing something to the conversation or you’ll end up a social media wallflower with little to no audience engagement. Something like #StrawberryRhubarbPieDay may seem silly, but if it is trending on Twitter, your audience will read what you post and it will reflect back onto your brand. The same level of thought and planning should go into a tweet for a hashtag holiday that you would put into any other post. The topic provides you with a jumping-off point. 

You also don’t want to be the person who overstays their welcome—or takes things too far. Unless it’s National Cheese Day and you’re the social media manager for DiGiorno’s, one strategic blog or social media post will suffice. If you want to do more, then schedule posts  throughout the day so as not to overwhelm your followers who might not necessarily be as invested in the holiday as you.

If you’re late to the party, review what’s already been said using social media monitoring. Nothing’s worse than telling a joke someone heard two hours ago. If you don’t have anything original to say, it’s better to say nothing at all. And don’t be the brand that takes it too far.

To summarize: the Ps and Qs of party-going apply to social media holidays as well. Don’t show up uninvited, mingle with your fellow partygoers, and share something of value to make the most of these fun events. However, as Mom warned you, you can’t go out every night. Original, substantial, content should still comprise the vast majority of what you share on social. But social media holidays are a fun escape from routine when appropriate and relevant. 

Happy hashtagging!