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How to Know If Your Brand Should Hop on a New Social Media Trend

Does everyone on your Twitter timeline seem to be obsessed with a new movie, television show, or mobile app? Are all your Facebook friends talking about the next big sporting event, upcoming holiday, or election? Trends can be found everywhere but social media is the best place to find the freshest and most relevant trends today. Take for example Pokémon Go, #MotivationMonday, the Super Bowl, Stranger Things, and “The Dress”.

The client is emailing you, asking if their brand should jump on the new social media trend that everyone seems to be talking about. After all, if everyone seems to be having a conversation about the same topic, shouldn’t their brand be a part of it?

It may be tempting to jump on each and every trend that bubbles up, and hope it finds just as much success as the famous Oreo Super Bowl tweet. However, before your brand hops on the next new social media trend, there are a few important questions you should ask yourself.

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Is this trend right for my brand?

Sometimes a social media trend seems like a perfect fit for a brand, such as Subway and #NationalSandwichDay. Other times though, finding a way to incorporate a trend into your brand’s message can feel like a challenge.

What is the sentiment behind the trend?

Is it positive or negative? Does it revolve around a popular piece of entertainment (movie, television show, music, etc.), or does it revolve around a universal idea like #WednesdayWisdom or #5WordFitnessPlan? Does using the trend seem like a natural fit with your brand, or does it feel it’s being shoehorned?

Is the trend appropriate for your brand’s voice?

Is it playful and entertaining, or does it revolve around a more serious topic? Does it have political undertones, or is neutral? Some trends, such as #Sharknado3, make a lot more sense for a tortilla chip company than they do for an insurance company.

Doritos Sharknado

Will my audience understand the trend?

The Internet is a weird place. While some social media trends are family-friendly, such as #FirstDayOfSchool, other trends are decidedly less so, like memes relating to Harambe. Some hashtags, trends and memes, while popular, have the potential to be lost on – or offend – your brand’s audience.

Although everyone on Twitter may seem to be obsessed with Stranger Things or the World Series, you can’t always assume that your audience is familiar with certain shows or follows sports.

Amazon Back to School

Who is your brand’s audience?

Is your brand a worldwide company and does it speak to an international audience? If international, hopping on a U.S. holiday trend – such as Labor Day – will ignore that percentage of your audience that doesn’t live in the U.S.

How old is the trend?

Because social media trends generally have a short shelf life, it can be difficult to hop on a trend before your audience has moved on to something else. Hopping on an old social media trend (i.e. posting about “The Dress” in 2016) long after the trend has ended can make your brand look as if it’s jumped the shark.

Have I researched the trend?

Researching a simple trending topic may seem unnecessary, but doing just a little bit of research on the trend will save you trouble later on down the road.

What are the origins of the trend?

Some trends and hashtags, while appearing innocent, may have a more complicated background. In September 2014, the hashtag #WhyIStayed trended on Twitter to highlight why men and women had chosen to stay with an abusive partner. It was an important, emotional conversation that highlighted the complexities of abusive relationships. Naturally, a brand decided to jump on the conversation, without researching the hashtag’s origins. Fortunately, DiGiorno Pizza quickly deleted the tweet and apologized for not researching the hashtag.

DiGiornos Why I Stayed

Successfully hopping on a timely social media trend, when done wisely, can pay off big for your brand.

Do you have any tips or thoughts on whether a brand should hop on a social media trend? We’d love to hear in the comments!

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