Hashtag Holidays

If you were on any form of social media yesterday, chances are you saw at least one post supporting #NationalPuppyDay. It wasn’t until late afternoon that I even knew this “holiday” existed, but after seeing the first post, my entire Instagram newsfeed was soon consumed by dogs. People seemed to really enjoy showing off their love for their pets, as this hashtag holiday spread like rapid fire. Many people used the day to encourage pet adoption, with some celebrities even jumping in on the conversation.

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National Puppy Day is not the only non-traditional holiday seen online. There are various”national” days throughout the year surrounding many topics that one might never even consider celebration-worthy. Social media serves as the perfect platform for companies to take advantage of whatever is the current hype online. There are a multitude of “holidays” that I wasn’t even aware of until coming across the flurry of posts on that particular day. The following examples display ways companies have leveraged these celebratory days and promoted their own brands while doing so. Oftentimes, stores and restaurants offer promotions and discounts on these days and use social media as a way to get the word out. Customers enjoy posting their own celebrations online as well as taking part in deals put forth by their favorite companies.


Puppies aren’t the only type of dog garnering attention on social media. On July 23rd, many companies promoted National Hotdog Day by adding their own humorous approach to the occasion. Sonic even offered $1 dogs all day for the event.

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March 23rd was National Chip and Dip Day. Various companies took advantage of this, most notably Tostitos. If your name is Chip, it was your lucky day. The company sent free packages of various dips to anyone who tweeted at them with proof of their name. The company definitely had users interested, as they began advertising the promotion several days in advance. Hundreds of people named Chip took advantage of the offer.

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Ever heard of National Compliment Day? If not, plenty of companies on January 24th were online to remind customers and engage them in their brand with various creative methods.

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All in all, there are hundreds of holidays that seem to have no point, yet are easy ways for companies to provide humor and engagement. While holidays are a great opportunity to connect with customers, they are also competitive days. A huge amount of companies aim to take advantage of them, so it is important for brands to do what they can to stand out. These celebrations can be relatable on such a wide scale, but it is essential for businesses to add their own voice and personality. Do you have any favorite obscure “National Days”?

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  1. Very interesting post. During the daily checks of my social media sites, I am very often confronted with different kinds of national days. Sometimes they really amuse me and I even love to participate, like on the Nutella day (love Nutella!). But sometimes these invented holidays can just be ridiculous and you can clearly feel the promotional purpose behind it.
    After reading you post I started to google different national days and found a page where you could register a national day. You can make a special day to be recognized annually. They offer you a proclamation sent to the websites followers, inclusion in their radio update heard on hundreds of radio stations in the USA and other ways to promote that day. The website addresses companies to do that with their products or services to increase product sales and brand awareness.
    I think its an effective way to promote the brand unless there don’t exist days of every other brand too. I have the feeling, that nowadays mostly food companies use the “national day promotion tool”. But I could imagine other industries, like the fashion industry, to follow with similar offers (e.g. 10% off on this special day). I’m curious how far this trend goes.

  2. It’s pretty fun finding out about these random holidays through social media and then taking part in them as if I knew about them all along. Everyone loves to take part in something that makes them feel involved and part of something and this is the perfect opportunity to do so. Therefore, like previously mentioned, companies naturally would want to take advantage of as many of these weird holidays as they can. Using it as a marketing strategy can be effective if they don’t sound too desperate and obvious about their selection of holiday. For instance, if a company is constantly advertising along with some random holiday no one has ever heard of, it becomes obvious that they are desperate. They should pick and choose certain holidays and then capitalize on the ones they have chosen. Sounds cliche, but quality over quantity should work in this case. Great job, Allison!

  3. wallacekwan99 · ·

    I find this topic humorous, yet relevant at the same time. Yes. I agree that all of these national holidays are getting out of hand, however, given that America operates in a capitalist economy, having all these holidays and celebrations are potentially big revenue generators for businesses. These holidays are not going away!

    After seeing that it was national puppy day on my Twitter, the first thing that came to mind was “I want to adopt a puppy” and ditto with all the other national holiday ads. I wanted to be part of the action! These different “causes for celebration” and its delivery on social media platforms create a powerful desire to be included that any savvy business would gladly try to leverage.

    Thanks for the shot of giggles and a thought provoking question as to why these holidays exist!

  4. Allison, this was such a fun topic to read about! I like @jnruss‘s comment about quality over quantity. It makes me think about the line from The Incredibles: “If everyone’s super, then no one will be.” Well, if every day’s a holiday, there will be little incentive to celebrate every day of the year. In terms of which holidays to choose, I think there’s something to be said when looking at the success of #NationalPuppyDay. People love their pets and feel a strong connection to them that they want to share. There’s a lot of personal incentive to share with that kind of holiday, versus the more transparently advertising-driven #NationaCheesecakeDay. I think if companies are going to be picking and choosing, it would be wiser to select national days that a lot of people can get excited and engaged about on a personal level, separate from consumer motives. (I looked up some of the wackier holidays and I think May 25th’s “Geek Pride Day” could hold a lot of potential.) Understandably, this raises the issue of more business’s being able to take advantage of the day, which creates more online competition for attention and creativity, but I think that it is better to join the hype of the online community rather than trying to create it. Great Post!

  5. Interesting post. I guess I dread the time where every day is a national something day (or multiples). On the other hand, maybe if every day has a theme it keeps us innovating in interesting ways rather than get into a rut.

  6. I loved this post, Allison! Like you, I didn’t realize #NationalPuppyDay was a thing until I looked at my Instagram, but, being a dog lover, I loved every minute of it! Personally, I view this as another beautiful part of social media. These holidays (by the way, who even knows if they are real?) have given users more reasons to celebrate and spread cheer. In terms of brands’ usage, why not take advantage of a goofy, probably not legitimate, holiday? I think, if executed tastefully, companies have the opportunity to not only spread brand awareness, but also engage with customers and improve their image. Overall, great post with great graphics!

  7. I really like this post! I was also really confused as to why all of these adorable puppy pictures were showing up on my Instagram. I agree with the previous comments– these national days, though somewhat obscure and random, are actually a productive and constructive way to utilize social media on a daily basis. Sometimes they can be overwhelming, but I agree with what Professor Kane said above–if these “national” days are organized constructively on all social media sites, they can be helpful and fun instead of annoying and disorganized. Great post!

  8. I really like this concept of hashtag holidays! I wonder how many of these hastags get started. It wouldn’t be hard to believe if a company starts a hashtag to help promote itself! It’s funny how all types of companies try to take advantage of each hastag. It surprises me how creative some of these brands are in being part of these hastags! I particularly like how White Castle took advantage of the #NationalLeftHandersDay. Digiorno’s #nationallipstick day was a miss for me. (What does one even do on a lipstick day?) But I can really see these hashtag holidays becoming effective for social causes and charities. However, some of these days are already doubling up as I have seen multiple holidays on the same day.

  9. tcbcmba2015 · ·

    Great topic choice Allison! I wish that a day could just be a day again. True holidays lose their meaning to me whenever they get co-opted by a brand, a campaign or a sales pitch. I detest Valentine’s day for this exact reason. Why do I *have* to run to Hallmark for a card, flowers and some chocolate? Even St. Patrick’s day is started to get this way too. The constant posting about going out to the parade, here’s the pic of my pint of Guinness, today everybody’s Irish etc. is getting to be a bit much. Hashtag holidays only heighten the commercialization – now we have made up national days so that we can push a message. Granted, their are some of these events that I like. I do enjoy the hashtags when restaurant week comes around! A good reminder that’s not too over the top. And speaking of good ol’ St. Patrick – I’m surprised that religious groups haven’t gotten into this game as a way of evangelizing in the 21st Century. The Catholic church alone has a full calendar’s worth of feast days. Interesting that we don’t see more #SaintBenedictDay floating around.

  10. Great post! I too had my Instagram bombarded with adorable puppy posts the other day and wondered how these national ____ days are even created. Social media really makes it easy for everyone and anyone to jump on the bandwagon (this particular one made me wish I had a cute puppy to post pictures of). It only makes sense that companies would jump at the opportunity to promote their products that pertain to these random holidays. It reminds me of an in-class presentation on April Fools Day social media marketing. The issue with these non-traditional holidays is that companies need to act fast to come up with clever ways of engaging customers that differ from competitors, especially if they weren’t even aware that such things as National Puppy Day existed (I certainly didn’t). This requires keeping up with social to see what is happening in social holiday world.

  11. Loved this post Allison! I have always wondered about who was behind starting these ‘hashtag holidays’, as scrolling through my Instagram or twitter feed is often the first time hearing about them. It is interesting how both businesses and regular social media users alike take advantage of these ‘hashtag holidays’. For businesses, their goal is to promote their brand and products. On the other hand, typical social media users it often seems like excuse to post (a photo including themselves). Somehow, this subject reminds me of a few articles I have read on studies linking social media and narcissism, as we use social media to curate an image of ourselves. Most of the posts recognizing/’honoring’ these ‘holidays’ I feel like are in a very self-promotional nature (#nationaldogday – a posed, attractive picture of your self, with the dog somewhere in the background). I am curious if anyone else notices or agrees with this.

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