5 Creative Holiday Social Media Campaigns for Inspiration

These days, a simple #HappyHolidays isn’t enough for social media holiday campaigns to compete. With all of the noise online, it’s important to stand out with campaigns that are a little more creative.

Here’s some inspiration looking at how five brands made an impact with large-scale holiday social media campaigns. And while your small business may have to think a bit more local, don’t be afraid to get festive and take advantage of the season.

1. HotelTonight #visitdontstay

There’s no place like home for the holidays—except for when there is. In 2016, HotelTonight introduced a campaign that showcases the funny (and sometimes stressful) aspect of visiting family during the holiday season.

The company shared photos of humorous situations encountered with family members and invited followers to share their greatest (and most cringe-worthy) family holiday stories on social channels like Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #visitdontstay for HotelTonight credits.

The campaign went viral and was commended by advertisers as a novel take on fun social media campaigns.

Why it worked: Holiday visits are relatable for everyone—and HotelTonight provides an easy solution to make it enjoyable. Encouraging customers’ storytelling on social platforms drove engagement, while humorous images lightened the mood and made it one of the most creative social media campaigns in recent years.

The takeaway: A little relatable humour goes a long way.

2. John Lewis & Partners #JohnLewisChristmas

This high-end department store chain uses emotion and beautiful visuals to set their brand apart each holiday season. Their adverts are highly anticipated and are considered some of the best holiday social media campaigns. So far, this year’s social media message—We’re here for you this Christmas—is a poignant way to tap into the need for comfort and togetherness we’re feeling more than ever. They’re offering virtual cookery, fashion, and home events to spread festive cheer and involve their customers in new, creative ways.

Their holiday video advert is the star of the show each year and is usually released mid-November. This year, they’ve hinted that it will centre on acts of kindness and will feature a heartfelt song, as in years past. John Lewis and Waitrose have partnered with two charities—FareShare and Home-Start—to provide food, comfort, and emotional support to families in need, which will likely be part of the advert’s message. Typically their holiday marketing campaigns, including last year’s Excitable Edgar and 2018’s Elton John storyline, are tear-jerkers in the best way and are among the most-viewed adverts of all time. This year’s is expected to be no different.

Why it works: The storylines pull in viewers, using new renditions of powerful, familiar songs and emotional moments. This makes people feel connected, not just to the story, but to the brand.

The takeaway: Emotional appeals can be incredibly powerful when done thoughtfully.

3. My Tales of Whisky Yule Log

In an effort to attract a younger consumer to its brand and prove that scotch whisky isn’t just an older man’s drink, Lagavulin Single Malt Scotch Whisky partnered with Parks and Recreation’s Nick Offerman. They created a 45-minute reel of the actor sitting next to the traditional holiday Yule log while sipping a tumbler of Lagavulin in complete silence.

The team secured an exclusive with Elite Daily, a popular news source for Millennials, to preview the video. Lagavulin also added a video teaser to its Facebook page to trigger shares and conversation. Within hours of launch, the video went viral and became a trending topic on Facebook. Within one week, the video had two million YouTube views and the channel had a 400-per cent increase in subscribers. This proved that fun social media campaigns don’t have to be complicated.

Why it worked: Offerman is the perfect influencer for the Lagavulin brand. His character on Parks and Recreation was often shown drinking the whisky and extolling its virtues, so the pairing felt incredibly authentic to both him and the brand. The simplicity of the actor sitting next to a fire, drinking the scotch—no muss and no fuss—again felt authentic to Offerman (or at least his Ron Swanson character), who is all about showing, not telling.

The takeaway: If you’re going to use an influencer (whether or not they are a celebrity), be strategic about how they fit the theme, product, and brand.

4. M&M’S Red Nose Day

M&M's Red Nose Day

M&M’S rallied its enormous fan base to help make people laugh for the Red Nose Day fund. Every time a consumer made someone laugh and then shared that story on social using the hashtag #MakeMLaugh, M&M’S donated a dollar to the fund.

M&M’S was able to donate $1.25 million to the Red Nose Day fund (a campaign that raises money for children and young adults living in poverty). The campaign generated almost 270 million social media impressions and 2.9 million engagements for #MakeMLaugh content, and the hashtag was used more than 78,000 times.

Why it worked: This multifaceted campaign used celebrities, sponsorship, and major media outlets to help spread the word. Social media was key in this campaign, and M&M’S partnered with a wide swath of influencers. But a big part of the campaign’s success was the integration of user-generated content that allowed consumers to contribute to a good cause.

The takeaway: Cause marketing can be fun, so get creative with the ways that you give back with your holiday marketing campaigns.

5. WestJet Christmas Miracle

WestJet’s Christmas Miracle called on WestJet customers to perform and submit (via social channels) 12,000 mini miracles (aka acts of kindness) over a 24-hour period.

From London to Hawaii, each mini miracle submitted with the #WestJetChristmas hashtag was tracked in real time and promoted on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, and WestJet’s website. The results were 31,793 mini miracle submissions, 1.4 million organic Facebook impressions, and 3,456 Instagram photos using the #WestJetChristmas hashtag.

Why it worked: The holidays are all about giving—and not just gifts. It’s the time of year when we’re all reminded to be kinder and better to each other. WestJet’s Christmas Miracle played on this traditional holiday feeling and then took it a step further by asking their community to put those feelings into action. The results were incredibly heartwarming.

The takeaway: You can’t go wrong with heartwarming and creative social media campaigns during the holidays.

*Image credit: “#Visitdontstay” by Hoteltonight.

Let these holiday social media campaigns inspire you to create your own version. Whether you use humour, emotional appeal, charitable giving, or a combination, let your holiday marketing campaigns spread the festive message of your brand this season.