Using social media trends to your advantage

Brands have a very delicate balance to strike, working to reach their audiences across social media in a way that’s current, friendly and brand-appropriate without coming across as pandering or trying too hard.

It’s easy for attempts to tap into current social media trends to go wrong, though; we’ve all seen the examples of branding coming across as tone-deaf or caught in the middle of a PR crisis of their own making by using a hashtag without vetting it first.

So here’s how brands can tap into social media trends to use them to their advantage.

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Decide if a trend is a fit

The point of staying on top of trends is to find the ones that can fit with your brand so you can riff off of them in the moment or work them into a current or near-future campaign (don’t wait too long or you’ll seem out-of-touch). If you have a well-defined brand voice and a clear hierarchy for content approval, it should be relatively easy to decide what will work for your brand, then create some content around it and get it quickly approved.

Having content get bogged down in a long, bureaucratic approval process can mean your content will be stale by the time it finally gets published. If it’s unlikely your brand will shift from that kind of approach, stick to more evergreen topics and stay away from trends.

You also don’t want to shoehorn anything into your brand content just because it’s a hot topic at the moment or all of your competitors are talking about it. Only tap into trends that really make sense with your brand and mesh well with your brand voice and values.

Your fans and followers will call you out if something is incongruous with your brand.

Be sure you know the nuances of the trend

Many a brand has come to regret using a hashtag or meme without first checking to see what it means or how it’s being used in that moment. The latter is key because the internet and social media move at such a fast pace that something you might think you know well could have shifted into something you don’t want your brand associated with, literally overnight.

Wendy’s learned this lesson recently in sharing an old meme that had more recently been co-opted by those with an unpleasant political agenda. Never, ever skip this step.

You can sacrifice absolutely-of-this-moment content for still-timely content that won’t make you regret that moment for months to come.

How to brainstorm content around trends

Once you have a good idea of which trends you want to tap into, how do you come up with content around them?

Here’s some of our advice for how to brainstorm:

  • Allow any idea, no matter how stupid you might think it is, on round one
  • Keep working with that first list of ideas, drawing out the more creative options
  • Start with a low or no-pressure spitfire round, maybe at the end of the day with an office happy hour, if you’re collaborating with coworkers

Once you have your ideas and you’re ready to start executing them, start the next morning with a cup of coffee. (There’s actual science to back up this approach.)

Measure your efforts

Want to see if the posts you’re creating around trends are doing better than your evergreen content? We can help with that! Drop us a line or hit the button below to see exactly how.

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