Happy National Chocolate Chip Day! Merry National White Wine Day!
In the U.S., yesterday was National Watermelon Day. Today is Coast Guard Day. It is also National Chocolate Chip Day and Wine Wine Day. Tomorrow is National Oyster Day. Next Monday is International Biodiesel Day.
These "novel national holidays" weren't created by social media. Indeed, National Watermelon Day was created by the National Watermelon Association. "Strange holidays are a decades-old tradition that gives trade groups something to promote and newscasters a way to fill airtime," writes Conor Dougherty in The New York Times.
But social media has made strange holidays a bigger deal. Yesterday, you might have noticed watermelons in your Facebook feed. Today you might see mentions of the Coast Guard on Twitter.
"What social media has done ... is create the need for billions of people to have something to say," writes Dougherty. "The result is a string of new holidays like Tweed Day and Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day that seem to exist only on the Internet."
Most Americans spend about an hour a day using social media. And so if there is a good excuse to post a photo, then people-and brands-will use it.
"Whether any of these count as holidays is something of a philosophical question," writes Dougherty. "Take Throwback Thursday-#TBT on social media-a weekly occasion on which millions of people share childhood pictures, outfits with leg warmers and other bygone moments. It is far from a national holiday, yet it is as reliable as Christmas-at least on social media."
According to Leigh Eric Schmidt, author of "Consumer Rites: The Buying and Selling of American Holidays," the habit of creating offbeat holidays is very American. "The United States has created a number of new holidays that incorporate two very American traits: self-invention and an excuse to sell products," writes Dougherty. "Trade groups invented most of the lesser-known celebrations, Mr. Schmidt said, but social media has given the power back to the people."
As a brand, how can you take advantage of this trend?
First, figure out what holidays are coming up. Chase's Calendar of Events includes hundreds of offbeat holidays.
"If you're looking to tie a promotional event to a special month, travel to a music festival halfway around the world, blog about a historical milestone or do a celebrity birthday round-up on your radio show or Twitterfeed, Chase's Calendar of Events is the one resource that has it all," according to Chase's publishers. "For broadcasters, journalists, event planners, public relations professionals, librarians, editors, writers or simply the curious, this is one reference you can't do without!"
There are also a growing number of calendar sites, such as Brownielocks, Checkiday, Wellcat and Days of the Year. On the website, National Day Calendar, you can create a national holiday for about $1,500.
The site WhatNationalDayIsIt.com sorts through millions of Twitter posting to determine what "national day" it is.
Once you've figure out what holidays are a good fit with your brand, create custom content. Take photographs that include your product and watermelons. Write a tweet that shows your brand's appreciation for the Coast Guard.
On the day itself, figure out what hashtags are being used by the most people, and use them to promote your custom content.
In a way, attaching your brand to an offbeat holiday is much like newsjacking. You are just paying attention to where the public is paying attention.