christmas holidays new year's hanukkah, hannukkah, chanukah, kwanzaa, social media monitoring facebook instagram

The top holiday trends on web, Facebook, and Instagram

By   |   November 22nd, 2017   |   Reading time: 6 minutes Brands, Digital Journalism

social media monitoring, social media analytics

With the holidays around the corner, we look at the top trends that will go viral on social for Christmas, New Year’s, and other festive content. 

In the States, we may be preparing to stuff ourselves with turkey (or ‘tofurkey’) tomorrow, but we all know what’s waiting right around the corner.

Brace yourself, the winter holidays are coming. To get an idea of the social media trends to know, we decided to look at the most engaging stories of last year around Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the New Year.

Which holiday is the most viral?

Social engagements around Christmas on the web eclipsed other holidays except for New Year’s Eve and content containing the nonspecific term “holiday” or “holidays”.

christmas holidays new year's hanukkah, hannukkah, chanukah, kwanzaa, social media monitoring facebook instagram

Buzz around Christmas content started to grow mid-October last year, while New Year’s engagements didn’t really start picking up until November.

However, different social media platforms can have different trends. On Pinterest, Christmas content and Holiday content both peaked in the first few days of December. 

pinterest social media holidays

Interestingly, Christmas and Holiday become pretty matched on average engagements across Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest around mid-December. 

Recipes and other tutorials tended to perform the best on Pinterest, with these Reindeer Rice Krispies driving 245,000 pins.

On LinkedIn, this story about the must-have gifts from “Shark Tank” was the top story on LinkedIn, with 13,456 shares. Let’s take a look at some other trends for making compelling holiday content. 

(Curious about Black Friday trends? Take a look at our latest report for the Black Friday winners on social last year, across industries)

What holiday stories resonate with readers?

When we looked at the top 100 most engaging stories across the web, we saw that there were some themes around what stories tended to go viral. Stories focused on goodwill toward others were the most common, especially stories that were inclusive of specific groups of people.

muslim christmas facebook

This story about a Muslim restaurant in London feeding the elderly and homeless on Christmas appeared five times in the top 100 stories. The Independent’s article drove 321,000 engagements across social.

Other types of inclusivity also featured. This story around Toys “R” Us hosting a quiet hour for autistic families to go shopping drove more than 655,000 engagements. Other feel-good stories also did well, as did animal-focused content.

Christmas commercials from brands, along with holiday music videos, had the most viral potential. In fact, they were at the top of our charts.

christmas holidays new year's hanukkah, hannukkah, chanukah, kwanzaa, social media monitoring facebook instagram

The Pentatonix holiday video on Youtube saw more than 2.5 million engagements across the major social networks.

Recipes and gift ideas (especially weird, unusual gifts) also featured in the top engaging stories.

pickle candy canes

For example, this story about pickle-flavored candy canes drove more than 241,000 interactions across social.

On Facebook, emotions and how-to guides rule

On Facebook, native video content drove the highest average engagements per post, followed by photos. Out of the reactions, Love was used the most frequently. In fact, the platform’s top 100 posts were all pretty loving.

Facebook native posts christmas holidays

Season’s greetings appeared most frequently, often from celebrities. If we look past the celebrities (seriously, Cristiano Ronaldo accounted for 10 percent of the top 100 posts), we can see that emotional posts and how-to guides are the most likely to go viral for holiday content.

Posts that made people either laugh, cry, or have that warm, fuzzy “Grinch’s heart growing three sizes” feeling, were most likely to go big.

He tipped him $300 dollars for Christmas. What a legend! 💵 🙌

Posted by LADbible on Friday, December 30, 2016

Again, inclusivity, animal stories, nostalgia, and general feel-good stories did well. The viral Christmas commercial posts often used some of these tactics.

Guides also featured again, with everything from tutorials on gift-wrapping to holiday decorations to festive recipes.

Leg Lamp Cookies will get A Christmas Story fans SO EXCITED #25DaysOfCookiesFull recipe:

Posted by Delish on Saturday, December 3, 2016

Bizzare posts like Delish’s recipe for “lamp leg cookies” had a “leg up” on standing out in the newsfeed.

On Instagram, show something new or tell a story

On Instagram, video drove slightly more engagements on average for Christmas and New Year’s content, but photos drove more per post for Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Again, celebrities were at the top of the engagement charts, though this time, Cristiano only had six of the top 100 engaging posts — Kylie Jenner had him beat with 11 of the top 100 posts.

Discounting celebrities, sports teams, and influencers, we can see that Hallmark might want to start sourcing its greeting cards right from the top Instagram publishers and brands.

National Geographic, 9gag and Instagram’s own account created the most liked and commented posts.  Just looking at the top ten posts, we see that the most viral posts were divided among visually stunning photos that showed unique holiday celebrations, and human interest posts about individuals’ unique holiday traditions.

instagram holiday content christmas

Meanwhile, 9gag’s top posts tended to be focused on animals, nostalgia, and memes.

That's sweet, you still get a little Christmas tree. Follow @9gag @9gagmobile #9gag #christmas

A post shared by 9GAG: Go Fun The World (@9gag) on

Who else did well on Instagram? NASA, Victoria’s Secret, adidas Football, and GoPro were a few of the other publishers and brands able to break through all the viral celebrity content.

Get those sleigh bells jingling on social

With Santa making his list and checking it twice, you may want to create your list of what will work for engaging holiday content. We’ll start it off for you:

1. During the holidays, feel-good, positive stories have extra momentum
2. Certain emotional content does well: heartwarming stories and humorous ones
3. Nostalgia ramps up around the holidays. Capitalize on it!
4. Follow the lead of viral videos and ads. Don’t be afraid to incorporate some holiday music
5. Catch social users’ attention with beautiful visuals or snapshot looks into unique holiday traditions

For a look at what content and brands are going viral on another “holiday”, check out our new Black Friday and Cyber Monday report

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