The Top 6 Content Trends of Christmas 2016


By   |   November 29th, 2016   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Brands, Digital Journalism

The holidays are fast upon us. We analyze top engagement trends to find out how you can get your content on social media’s “nice list”.

It’s nearly December, which means, it’s time to pour an extra helping of eggnog and get your holiday content out there. But how can you set apart your content from all the others on social media?

We took a look at 2015’s data using NewsWhip Analytics to see when the biggest spikes in activity were for the holiday season.

holidays 2015 NewsWhip Analytics

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Content with Christmas or Xmas keywords saw enormous engagement compared to other December holidays. While activity did begin in November, there was a steady increase in engagement post-Thanksgiving. The biggest peak occurred on December 22nd, just enough time for some last minute presents or recipe planning.

Hanukkah 2015 NewsWhip Analytics

For Hanukkah content, the peak in activity happened on December 6th, which was the first evening of the holiday last year.

For native Facebook content, holiday and Christmas keywords peaked on Christmas Eve into Christmas day, following a steady buildup through the month of December.  

So what kind of content gets people in the holiday season the most?

Get Your Inner Mad Men On

Christmas ads get a lot of attention. If you’re a brand, how will your advertising for the holiday season be remembered? Is it whimsical? Tear-jerking? Silly?

Just consider how Coca-Cola and M&Ms have become well-known for their Christmas ads. What would Christmas be, without polar bears drinking a Coke, or Santa discovering the M&M mascots really do exist?

This 2015 Sainsbury commercial drove over 33 million views on Youtube. Publishers that reposted the video, like Omeleto, saw big engagement. Omeleto saw over 724,000 Facebook interactions by embedding the video on their site.

Brands can also come under scrutiny for their holiday ads. Starbucks faced some ire during the 2015 holiday season for their holiday red cups not being ‘Christmassy’ enough.

This year, eyes were still on Starbucks’ cups for 2016. Positive or negative, big brands can drive substantial engagement through their participation in the winter holidays. Publishers can cover these advertisements to build engagement, or try their hand at their own.

Already, 2016 is seeing big numbers for this season’s Christmas ads. The Daily Mail has seen over 1.6 million Facebook engagements for sharing Heathrow Airport’s ad, while John Lewis has driven 1.5 million engagements for their highly anticipated advert.  

Santa’s Ready for His Facebook Live Broadcast

On that note, video is a surefire way to get your native Facebook content on the “Nice list”.

Recipe videos are especially popular for the holidays. This one from Food Network drove over 450,000 likes, 62,000 comments, and an astounding 870,000 shares. Other videos provide instructions on festive crafts, the aforementioned Christmas commercials, and acts of holiday altruism. 

What about 2016? Video is already driving impressive engagement, even before we’ve hit December. This is to be expected, especially as Facebook has put significant focus on the format this year.

Quicker, casual videos are also seeing activity, like this one from UNILAD. Your videos success is still about the value to your audience, whether that’s entertaining, inspiring, or informational.

Off Facebook, video content does well too. Last year, videos of Internet-famous musicians like Lindsay Stirling and Pentatonix delivering their Christmas hits saw big engagement on YouTube and in media coverage. Holiday-themed parodies do well too, like this Hanukkah version of “Shut Up and Dance”. 

Channel the Ghosts of Christmases Past

Always a strong tactic to drive engagement, nostalgia is especially impactful during the holiday season.

Victoria Fadden Christmas

This blogger’s post about Christmas in the 70s vs today went viral. The holidays are a sentimental time for many and reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ is sure to spark likes, shares, and debates in comments.

This BuzzFeed article on “35 Things You’re Never Going To Get For Christmas Again” is another example of using that nostalgia to drive engagement. It drove over 225,000 Facebook interactions.

Make a List, Check It Twice

We saw the simple and succinct list format reaching a peak during the holidays in 2014, and 2015 was no exception.

BuzzFeed, a master of the list article, was our top publisher of holiday content, both across web and on native.

This list drove over 360,000 engagements on Facebook. During the holidays, when people may be stressed and short on time, list articles can provide bite-size ideas, or a lighthearted look at the holiday season. BuzzFeed had very specific gift lists, such as presents for friends who wish to be mermaids, or grammar nerds.

Other sites had engaging lists as well. Ranker’s “36 Cats Crashing Nativity Scenes” and Country Outfitter’s “13 Creative (And Hilarious!) Elf on the Shelf Ideas” also drove substantial Facebook engagement.

The Secret Ingredients to a Holiday

Nowadays, we turn to the internet to tell us how to decorate our trees the best, have the best Christmas dinners, and have the best lit house.

This tutorial from Stubbornly Crafty drove over 204,000 Facebook engagements and 53,000 pins. Tutorials and How-To’s also do remarkably well on Pinterest. 

We saw in 2015 that holiday guides were a highly popular content trend. As more Millennials and Generation Z users start taking the reins on their own festivities, it’s natural many of them may turn to the internet and social media on how to do so.

Side note: More whimsical tutorials can score engagement too. Last year, we noted the rise of the ‘beard bauble’ trend in 2014. In 2015, holiday beard glitter became a thing. Where can beards go from here to show their Christmas spirit?

Bless Us, Every One!

Nobody wants to be a Scrooge on Christmas. The holidays are full of that feel-good mentality, and the Christmas spirit takes over on social media too.

This video from the Huffington Post, about three siblings being adopted together for Christmas, drove over 1.1 million engagements on Facebook. Find those positive stories, those ‘Christmas miracles’ that make the world seem like a better place over the holidays. 

These stories find that common thread of good in humanity. They don’t necessarily have to be saccharine either, as evidenced by the Quartz story above, “Fashion Santa is real, and he’s bringing money to sick kids”. It drove over 263,000 Facebook engagements.

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Let’s recap. How can you make sure your holiday content doesn’t feel like waking up to a lump of coal on Christmas morning? Here are the top engagement winning content trends to keep in mind:

  • Showcase and discuss the most notable holiday ads
  • Make a holiday video
  • Add in some nostalgia
  • Write a list article
  • Share a guide on holiday how-to’s
  • Write about acts of seasonal philanthropy

There’s no one magical way to succeed with your holiday content. Putting a festive spin on the content you already know your audience will add value in a timely and compelling way. While the majority of Christmas content is warmer and lighthearted, you know best the content your audience will respond to.

Take a free trial of NewsWhip Spike to discover 2016’s top holiday stories and trends

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