As we reach the end of one very different year, many of us are looking forward with optimism to brighter days in 2021 and somewhat of a reprieve from the restrictions that have impacted life and business in recent months.

The festive season this year will be like no other, not least because so many of us are shopping more online than ever before and those who prefer a more traditional approach will make their first trips to the shops for non-essentials from 1st December (if you’re in Ireland, dates vary if you’re in other locations).

So with more people online than ever before and for a period of time most likely more people in physical locations such as retail outlets, it’s important that you’re organised for your social media while you’re also focused on your physical presence or online store.

This month dates we’re suggesting you might include as themes in your social media include;

1st December – non-essential retail re-opens (Ireland); if you’re in retail you’ve probably been in-store getting set for what should be an exceptionally busy few weeks. Many of the big stores have advertised widely their proposed re-opening plans such as dates, opening hours or plans for online in the midst of the anticipated retail frenzy. Ensure that you’re keeping your potential customers up to date too, post into community or local groups for your area, include hashtags for your location or run an ad to try reach some people in your area. There is a lot to ads if you’re running them for the long-term, if it’s a quick ad for Christmas though don’t get caught up in the technicalities and simply hit the ‘boost’ button to get started on Facebook/Instagram. It may not deliver as good value as going the more complex route but that might just be an option to look into for the new year.

4th December – hospitality begins to re-open (Ireland); festive meals out are a little different this year and while those of you working in hospitality have been making plans ensure you’re sharing these plans on social media too – how and when people can book, what your menu is, any changes you’ve made to accommodate the new rules. We all know the festivities won’t be marked in the way we’ve become accustomed to but having one person on your social media to check on queries about reservations or ensuring that people are aware of your opening times may just prevent people turning up to be disappointed if you’re reservations only. I’ve suggested an ad above for retail but for hospitality I would also consider running some ads, they don’t need to cost a lot but can reach a lot of people to help you ensure that you get the maximum benefit from the times you’re open.

5th December – International Volunteers Day; with a theme of ‘Together We Can Through Volunteering’ this year more than ever many people have stepped into roles that might not normally have been part of their lives as around us different sectors of society were restricted in how we live and work. Perhaps give somebody a shout-out for a job well-done or consider if it’s appropriate if you can volunteer any support at a challenging time of year. There is an official UN site for this date, you can view it at https://www.un.org/en/observances/volunteer-day

11th December – Christmas Jumper Day; we all have times we wear our Christmas jumpers but on this date in your workplace you might like to use the opportunity to do some fund-raising for some of the many charitable causes that have had a difficult year with normal activities being very restricted. The Children’s Health Foundation at Crumlin Hospital is one cause asking you to use the day, The Multiple Scelrosis Society of Ireland is another and in your business if your team are involved a few photos behind the scenes even if that’s via zoom makes for some festive and well timed content that can also include a link to your chosen charity too.

18th December – International Migrants Day: the second UN day we’ve included this month, one that we feel is important to include this year. Because of the change in how we live and travel it’s not been an option for many who have migrated to other parts of the world to take a trip home as they ordinarily would. Every situation is unique and while this may not be content for social media like everything else on the list, we included it as we believe it’s something that might be marked offline where there are a number of employees on your team who have migrated to your local community. Find out more about the theme and reasons behind the day on the official site at https://www.iom.int/migrantsday

18th December – inter-county restrictions ease (Ireland); as we emerge from the latest period of lockdown here in Ireland, we’ve got permission to travel home to family or connect with friends in another county from this date, through to 6th January. It’s not something every business can do something with but if you were running a garage and thinking of all those people planning to hit the road at this time you might suggest in advance that people do some basic checks on their cars, if you’ve got a retail premises on a forecourt you might run a promotion to remind people to stop for a coffee to break the journey.

24th December – Christmas Eve; Santa and his helpers have had to deal with the challenges of covid this year just like everybody else and whilst families are doing everyhting possible to accommodate visits to Santa with the man himself making appointments in many different forms including by Zoom and by Mobile Grotto, if you’ve got a family-friendly audience could you sign-off for Christmas with a message from the man himself on video? If you decided this was an idea you could announce it a few days earlier, this gives you a couple of days content too.

25th December – Christmas Day; a day off with a difference for most of us, for online retailers though this can be a day of business. If you do feel the need to post on Christmas Day be mindful of how it’s done, it’s considered a day for family and friends and even though many more of us will be in our own homes this year as opposed to taking part in big gatherings, don’t consider it an opportunity to try sell!!! It’s perfectly fine to wish your customers a Happy Christmas on the day you’re closing, if you’re not back until the new year include a new year’s greeting which you can then follow up on in January.

26th December – St Stephen’s Day (Ireland) or Boxing Day (UK); in more recent years this might have been a day to start shopping in the post-Christmas sales, in 2020 the rules for everything changed. It will undoubtedly be a busy day for online sales but whether it’s replicated offline we won’t know for some time because right now the focus is on getting the doors open again. If you do decide to trade on this day make sure you mention it on social media even if you’ve covered it pre-Christmas.

31st December – New Year’s Eve; we’re probably all looking forward to New Year’s Eve this year more than ever before, 2021 is a new chapter for every one of us and while even a simple Happy New Year works, don’t forget anything people need to know about your trading hours, reservations, etc over this time.

This year is one that will go down in the history books as one of significant change in life and in business, for now we all need to do our very best to contribute to the move forward and perhaps some of the lessons we all learned during 2020 will stand to us in how we operate with more commercial activity online and considerably more of us enjoying a very different work/life balance as so many have now learned to work productively from home.

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