Even though supermarkets across the country have been blasting Christmas carols since the day after Halloween, we all know the holiday season doesn’t officially start until Thanksgiving has come and gone. While this cheery time of year means family vacations and time off of work for lots of people, it shouldn’t signal a time to take a break from your content marketing efforts.

In fact, the holidays are an excellent time to harness the power of content marketing – to leverage the power of emotion in marketing and appeal to your prospects from a whole new angle. While the holiday does present its own set of unique challenges for marketers, there are some ways you can actually tailor your inbound efforts to make them even more in sync with the spirit of the holiday season. Here’s how:

Time it right.

The holidays are a zany time of year, particularly in terms of scheduling. Unlike the rest of the year, people aren’t sitting down and engaging in their regular Internet browsing habits on their macbooks. Instead, people are out of their routine – traveling, off work, distracted by family, or focusing on getting big end of the year projects done (etc., etc.).

So, in order to ensure that your content gets seen during the busy holiday season, it’s important to release it at the right time.

One way to maximize the potential of getting your content seen? Share it on a day that you know people will actually be checking the Internet, and not a time that the Internet is a virtual ghosttown.

In 2014, Dan Deeth of Sandvine – a firm that tracks internet usage — sat down and did some analysis of peoples’ Internet usage over the holidays. What he discovered was that during the actual Christmas week, peoples’ Internet usage rose – particularly in the morning hours of December 22, 23, and 24th– most likely due to students who are home from school on holiday break and adults who have already started their work vacation. However, there was one time during the holidays that the Internet was essentially silent: Christmas Eve and part of Christmas Day, when people were out celebrating with their families. He found that Internet usage picked up again by Christmas night and was 15-20% higher than normal on the day after Christmas.

So, if you want to increase the chances that your content gets seen, try to make sure it is available during the weekdays before the holiday, or immediately after. You can capitalize on this post-holiday spike in Internet traffic — which happens most likely because people are trying out the brand new devices they got as presents, or looking to return presents they don’t want online.

However, if you choose to release new content on the actual holiday itself – there’s a very good chance it’s going to get overlooked.

Depositphotos_13997146_l-2015Appeal to peoples’ emotions.

There’s no mistaking it – the holidays are an extra-sentimental time of the year. (After all, there’s a reason that television networks can play It’s a Wonderful Life to great ratings year after year after year). People associate the holidays with things like family, childhood memories, quality time, and connection. So, you can create successful content that gets noticed and shared around the holiday season by appealing to that extra-sentimental mood.

People aren’t just drawn to content that makes them feel things during the holidays. In fact, according to a study about what makes online content go viral conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the most successful online content (in general) evokes emotion from the people viewing it. Further, content that evokes positive emotions has a higher chance of going viral than negative content.

So, as the holidays roll around, tweak your content to create blog posts, videos, podcasts, and more that tell a heartwarming, emotional story. This is what people are in the mood for – and this is the kind of stuff that they’re going to consume and share with their friends.

Want proof? Here are a few super sentimental and super successful examples of content marketing that have done extremely well over the past few years.

WestJet Christmas Miracle 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zIEIvi2MuEk

In 2013, Canada-based airline WestJet created a heartwarming Christmas video that went crazy viral. In the video, the airline collected Christmas wish lists from passengers on a few of their flights and then surprised them with the gifts they asked for as they were waiting at baggage claim in the Calgary Airport. Told in the rhyming style of “The Night Before Christmas,” WestJet hit it out of the park by both appealing to customers’ emotions and making content familiar and easily consumable.

Apple’s The Song video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgzlwZsAPoE

During the 2014 holiday season, Apple released on online video entitled “The Song.” The video depicts the story of a young girl who finds a vinyl record that her grandmother once made for her sweetheart. The girl then digitizes the record, adds some of her own singing to the track, then sends it back to her grandmother for the holidays – on an iPod. The video tugs at heartstrings and plays to the family-theme of the holidays – and it only has subtle Apple-related hints, focusing much more on storytelling than advertising. As of today, it has close to 4 million views on YouTube.

Coca-Cola Journey Holiday Stories

http://www.coca-colacompany.com/stories/merged-traditions-two-religions-one-happy-holiday-season/

Last year, in their online Lifestyle magazine Journey, Coca-Cola released a series of personal stories about how people choose to celebrate the holidays (Chanukah, Christmas, etc.) The deeply personal stories of traditions and rituals has appealed to readers from across the world.

Burberry’s From London with Love

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojBufhpPgMo

In 2014, Burberry created a four-minute video called “From London with Love,” which went viral. The video, which was made in the style of old-fashioned, cinematic musicals, stars Romeo Beckham (son of David and Victoria) and tells the story of two young people falling against the backdrop of beautiful London. The movie drew nearly 10 million views, and it helped people associate the Burberry brand with the magical feeling of romance and nostalgia – just in time to buy for the holidays.

Keep it brief.

During the holidays, people don’t have the time or the brain space to consume long, complicated, technical posts. Between shopping for gifts and cooking meals and drinking all the egg nog, there’s tons to do – and no one wants to spend any precious free time off work lingering over a wordy blog post or e-mail.

Instead, during the holiday season, give people a brain break, and give them content that is easy to read and consume. This will maximize the chances that people will actually read what you write — and digest what you’re saying. Think in listicles, infographics, snapchats, videos and Instagram posts.

Another good reason to keep things brief? More people than ever are spending the holidays browsing the Internet on their mobile devices rather than their desktop. In fact, according to a Mobile Benchmark Report created by Adobe Digital Index in 2015, the proportion of mobile Internet traffic during the holidays can exceed 70%.

Browsing on tiny screens can be hard – especially if there are lots of words to read. Keep your content concise, and it’ll be more likely that people will read it all, even when they’re reading on their phone.

Schedule it.

The holidays should be holidays for you too, even if you are a content marketer. So, give yourself a break this year by automating some of your content marketing. Write and schedule blog posts ahead of time so that you can populate your blog even while you’re away in that lovely mountain cabin or sleeping on a blow-up mattress in your mom’s living room. You can also schedule e-mails so that they arrive in peoples’ inbox at dawn the morning after Christmas – that way you don’t have to be up at dawn, too.