In a country fractured into a thousand fandoms, political camps, and social groupings, there is very little that everyone can agree on. Which is part of what makes Thanksgiving so special: the holiday has its haters, for sure, but—on the whole—people tend to like Thanksgiving. People also like to talk about Thanksgiving, for the same reason that they like to talk about sports, or prestige TV shows: Thanksgiving is an experience that everyone shares and that everyone experiences differently. When it comes to conversation, that’s fertile ground.
For publishers, Thanksgiving presents an opportunity to harness some of that conversation—to guide your online community towards vibrant, engaged discussions on etiquette, technique, traditions, and more. It’s a chance to get users going on a subject detached from the usual grind of partisan politics (a conversation about string-bean casserole may get heated, but it’s probably not going to devolve into name-calling or threats). Better yet, it’s a chance to drive engagement while building an online community around your brand.
Below, some tips on engaging with Thanksgiving content this season.
You Can’t Go Wrong With a Recipe
One simple way to get a fun, freewheeling discussion going: post a Thanksgiving recipe, and prompt users to share their own. Nearly everyone has at least one strongly-held opinion about the right way to prepare a turkey. A not-insignificant number of people can hold forth for hours on the subject of fresh cranberries vs. canned. Liveliness, in this context, is guaranteed—but so is emotion. Food—and especially Thanksgiving food—is inextricably bound with memory. Think: your beloved grandmother’s famous mashed potato recipe, or your uncle’s unconventional but surprisingly tasty yam dish. Any exchange of recipes will double as an exchange of memories; it’s the kind of conversation people want to be a part of.
All Thanksgiving Content is Valuable
Simply posting a recipe doesn’t work for every editorial brand, of course. Niche publishers without dedicated cooking verticals can get in on the action by posting Thanksgiving content their readers might appreciate: a guide to the best Thanksgiving movies, a list of video games with Thanksgiving moments, an explainer on the evolution of certain Thanksgiving traditions, staged debates between editors or writers on Thanksgiving foods. All of these are subjects that are likely to get people talking and chiming in with their own contributions.
Niche publishers, incidentally, are in many ways in a privileged position: their communities are likely to be vibrant and tight-knit. Guiding that conversation with Thanksgiving content is a surefire way to keep the conversation flowing.
Live Events, Polls, and More: Boosting Engagement Around Thanksgiving
If you’re up to go beyond simply posting a recipe, there are a world of options out there that can keep engagement with your audience. With OpenWebOS Experience, you can host live events (say, a turkey cooking class presented by an editor); you can post polls (“Did you try this recipe?” “How’d your turkey end up?”); you can even let users leave recipe reviews for the community to peruse. In those final workdays before Thanksgiving—when the air’s charged with the looming festivities—you can be sure this content will get people clicking, not to mention talking.
Why All This Activity Matters
The upsides here are abundant: more conversation means more registrations. It means more return visits, more valuable first-party data, more page views, more time on-site, more retention, and more average revenue per user. When you own a discussion—when it’s taking place on your website, prompted by your content, instead of on social media—you go a long way towards building a community around your brand.
In the coming days, the volume of online conversation about Thanksgiving is going to reach a critical mass. Publishers would be remiss to not host some of that conversation themselves. Also: turkey is not a necessity for a solid Thanksgiving dinner and chicken is a fine substitute, if that’s what you prefer. (That’s us getting the conversation started. Your move!)