Social Media Trends - When to jump in & when to hold back!

Snap Maps, Insta-stories, Facebook Live...just a few of the new social media changes that have happened in the last 12 months, and as a brand it can be very, very hard to know which you should get involved in and which should be left alone.

FOMO (fear of missing out) is not exclusive to individuals watching their mates have fun without them, in fact businesses left right and centre are jumping on social trend bandwagons so they don't feel left behind by competitors. Let me tell you now; not all trends fit all brands and not all brands fit all trends, so there is a time and place for jumping and a time for sitting back and waiting.

Digital trends pop up as often as fashion and foodie trends, some become a household name, while others are gone before the world even knows they existed. Due of the sheer number of these trends and the volatility of them, it is genuinely physically impossible for brands to react to every single one of them. However, there are a few that are a necessity in order to remain relevant with your audience. Herein lies the challenge; knowing the difference.  

The key words in the above sentence are 'your audience' - if you are unsure of your audience, differentiating between the trends you should and shouldn't spend time on becomes a minefield. If you find yourself struggling every time a new trend emerges, I strongly implore you to take some time out and really break down who your audience is, how they consume digital media and then begin again looking at social media and trends. 

So you are presented with a new social trend, this is what should happen next;

Weigh the value of the trend firstly in the amount of time and investment it will take to act on it. For example, is it a whole new platform, that needs strategy and research? Does it need establishing before you can fully embrace it? Are there niche intricacies that will add time onto team members? 

Or is it simply a trend within a platform? Such as snappy stop motion videos, a new hashtag, or style of content similar to insta-stories?

Once you have taken that into account, you can begin to make plans for how much time/money/consideration needs to be allocated and from there, what you need from the platform/trend. 

In the case of a trending hashtag for example, it can be beneficial to hop on the bandwagon and take the opportunity to get involved, if it is in keeping with your brand, ethos, product and audience. Hashtag Hijacking is a thing and it happens regularly, but has to be done in a very intelligent way! Not in the way that Entemann's sweets did it;

In July 2011, Entenmann’s told Twitter followers they should feel #NotGuilty about eating the brand’s low-calorie sweets.

The hashtag was already trending. But it wasn’t because of past Entenmann’s tweets. “Not guilty” was the verdict of the Casey Anthony trial, which revolved around the death of her two-year-old daughter.

The twittersphere largely didn’t appreciate the post. And social media reporters were quick to cover the story.

Entenmann’s deleted the tweet and apologised. The public relations team claimed ignorance, but the twittersphere can’t be certain if it was accidental.

It's imperative to research a hashtag before you, as a brand or individual, jumps into the conversation by using it. I wrote in more depth about this in my Hashtag 101 post. 

Before you get involved ask yourself these questions;

  • Is it in line with our message/manifesto/brand?
  • Are our customers or potential customers already engaging with it?
  • How can we transform engagement on social media into real engagement with customers or potential customers
  • What do you want from your involvement? Is it to be 'part of the crowd' or do you have a genuine opinion/reason for engaging?

Once you've asked yourself those questions, if it feels right to get involved then throw yourself into it, if not then be satisfied that with the speed of social media, there will be another opportunity imminently. 

Engagement about trending issues in your industry or customer concerns can establish your brand as a thought leader in the eyes of your consumers, however a misuse of this can have a severely detrimental affect on your business and how it is viewed by consumers.

Hopefully this has helped you work out how to tackle social media trends, however if you would like some more help you can of course contact me.

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