The holiday season has rolled around again and many of us are filled with its cheer.  Santa hats, jingle bells, pickle ornaments, manger scenes, menorahs, Kwanzaa fruit blooms… so many different traditions are woven into our experience.  Diversity brings such enrichment to contemporary society.  But, having to think before you greet others so as not to offend takes some of the fun out of how we grew up loving the magical time of Christmas.

Looking back at my many fond memories of bright lights, shiny packages, and glittery snowflakes, I wonder when the joyous excitement shifted to contained propriety.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays – I grew up using both phrases and not thinking anything of it.  Nowadays, before uttering a season’s greeting, I consider by whom I am surrounded and within what context I am speaking.  Somehow that just plays into the cynicism that grows deeper in me with each passing year.

Although I am obviously irritated on a personal level with having to edit my holiday delight, that same awareness plays as a strength in social media management.  Before you can initiate a successful marketing strategy, you must identify and understand your audience demographics and psychographics.  To whom are you speaking and how do they think?

Thankfully, in our region, most people celebrate Christmas whether it’s based on their religious views or cultural tradition.  Referencing Christmas in advertising and social media is acceptable for most local businesses and organizations.  And, it’s fine too if that’s your preference – you should acknowledge the holiday in a way that’s reflective of your ideologies, but it’s important to consider how your beliefs are relayed through your brand.  It is also smart to consider that others may not recognize Christmas in the same way you do.

If you celebrate Hanukkah or your company employs people who participate in the season in a purely secular way, then depending on what level they contribute to your brand identity, consider incorporating holiday elements that are reflective of those traditions as well.

You’re not going to please everybody, so don’t even try.  And, you will always have to deal with those truculent personalities who insist on passive-aggressively being heard through social media rants.  Using the phrase, “Happy Holidays” may provide a more inclusive way of keeping “peace on earth” this season and it may also respectfully acknowledge the jollity of this time of year for those who don’t celebrate Christmas as such.  Of course, it could incite a red-cup-mentality riot too, so you may have to say, “Merry Christmas,” to avoid that.  Take your pick – from whom do you want to avoid backlash?

Then the frustrations comes full-circle.  Why can’t we just enjoy the holiday season together through our differences?  Live and let live.  Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Merry Everything!