Do people really not use the internet over the holidays?

Estimated read time: 6 minutes



I use the internet nonstop – including on holidays. Do I make large business related purchase decisions on those days? Not really but I am consuming business and personal content.

Just look at family gatherings over the holidays where people are on their phones. It’s so common even The Onion made fun of it: “Relatives Gather From Across The Country To Stare Into Screens Together.

In 2016, I actually looked at the numbers of my blog at the time and they were pretty close. People visit it even on the holidays. You can still see that analysis further down in this article.

But let’s look at some current data at the end of 2021, including:

Website

Here’s a look at the last 30 days of my blog at christophtrappe.com.

Interestingly, Christmas Eve was by far the most traffic of the month and Christmas Day was also trending in a record-performance direction. So people were reading my content strategy – related content even a holiday.

Amazon videos

I try to upload Amazon prime videos every chance I get. December has been the second best performing month of the year and views stayed pretty consistent until we got to Christmas Eve. Then they decreased quite a bit which makes sense as people are probably done with online shopping for the holidays.

The newsletter

I send a newsletter every couple weeks and also sent one on Christmas Eve. It did perform just on par in the first few hours with other newsletter versions.

Twitter

My Twitter account definitely took a bit of a decrease in December – even over November, which also has a holiday with Thanksgiving.

 

But I also tweeted quite a bit less in December so that could have influenced the performance. People can’t consume my content when I don’t publish any. And after all, even 70,000 impressions and over 8,000 profile visits is not bad.

Read next: Are people visiting Twitter profiles?

The podcast

The podcast goes in spurts. At times, the live numbers way outperform the audio numbers. In this graphic, I’m looking at podcast channels only. They go up and down and have done that all year, but there’s a definite drop st the end – Christmas 2021.


2016 data analysis

Methodology

I identified most major holidays in the United States: New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

I pulled the days’ data first, looking at total sessions and the percentage of United States visitors. To get that percentage I had to take U.S. visitors/total sessions x 100.

Then I looked for abnormalities. As you can see below, at least two months saw huge spikes on a couple of other non-holiday days so I adjusted my analysis for that. It was also good to keep in mind that overall website traffic has increased quite a bit in 2016:

website traffic 2016

 

The numbers

My blog at the time – The Authentic Storytelling Blog – saw almost 180,000 sessions total the first 360 days of 2016, which means the average day had almost 500 sessions. Let’s look at each of the identified holidays:

New Year’s Day 2016 – 126 sessions
January average day – 160 sessions

Increase/decrease – 34 fewer sessions

Memorial Day (May 30) – 168 sessions, 66 percent U.S. traffic
May average day – 162 sessions, 65 percent U.S. traffic

Increase/decrease – 6 more sessions

Independence Day (July 4) – 224 sessions, 63 percent U.S.
July average day – 261 sessions, 63 percent U.S.

Increase/decrease – 37 fewer sessions

But, the site saw a tremendous spike in traffic in July after July 29, as you can see here:

When I take that higher-than-normal spike out, the daily average session number is actually 216, meaning July 4 performed just slightly above average.

Labor Day (Sept. 5) – 734 sessions, 37 percent U.S. traffic
September average day – 556 sessions, 43 percent U.S. traffic

Increase/decrease – 178 more sessions

Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 24) – 466 sessions, 36 percent U.S. traffic
November average day – 1,098 sessions, 72 percent U.S. traffic

November, like July, saw one huge spike in traffic. Once that’s taken out the average day in November saw 584 sessions, which is still 118 more than Thanksgiving Day.

Christmas Day (Dec. 25) – 1,940 sessions, less than half from the United States, but Christmas isn’t just an American holiday
December average day (Dec. 1-25) – 2,403

Increase/decrease – 463 fewer sessions

Overview and conclusion

Just two of the six holidays had actually more traffic than the average day of the corresponding month, but most holidays were super close. Christmas Day was the biggest surprise, but is also an indicator how much readership December drew. The average daily session count in December was 2,403 and Christmas Day had 1,940 – 463 visits below the average day in December. But 1,940 visits would have also beaten every other month’s daily average – by a lot.

Given that four of the six are American holidays, I wondered if traffic on those days may be coming from outside the United States. Overall, around 40 percent or so on the blog is international visitors throughout the year. Those numbers matched on three of six holidays, except Labor Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day – which is a more international  Christian holiday. On Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day less than 40 percent of traffic was U.S. based. Very interesting.

But it’s not conclusive enough that would prompt me to say that holidays are only good if your readership is global. Other holidays had the typical amount of U.S. traffic.

Relevance and timing

So people don’t stay away from the internet on holidays. Our stories and online content can still have an impact and reach people. I know I use my phone all the time on holidays. Usually, because I’m starting to get bored and am looking for something to do or read.

Does that mean we should start publishing on holidays? Not necessarily. The publication date isn’t what drives traffic. It’s the relevance and promotion. People might be finding it through search, social or through your auto email alerting them of new content. As long as it’s good, people will consume it.

And like anything in the digital world, these numbers might differ for your blog, but this is how it looks on my blog. People read along, whether it’s holiday or not.


Should you run campaigns on holidays? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on what business you are in. It’s also worth considering how much hands-on activities are required from the team. After all, holidays are for relaxation and family.

Read next: How to achieve work life balance – especially in the digital age



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