Do’s & Don’ts of Using Social Trends to Boost Your Business

Two women holding a rainbow flag.
Written by: Connections Marketing

The wall between marketing and societal trends has long since come down, and that leaves a lot of creative leeway for professionals trying to boost their brand. Folding social trends into parts of your campaign can be extremely effective and in some industries is expected. Yet it’s a strategy that even some of the bigger brands around don’t always get right. The basic rules are similar to marketing tied to any growing trend:

  1. Be tasteful
  2. Don’t try too hard
  3. Be natural
  4. Don’t overdo it
  5. Make sure it makes sense
  6. Have fun with it

But authenticity is a key selling point in ads these days. Take heed of a few other important do’s and don’ts when using social trends to your advantage:

Stay in Touch with Societal Trends

Consumers are increasingly drawn to names that show they have their finger on the pulse of society. Brands like Nike and M&Ms have made use of social movements with excellent results by successfully appealing to a broad swath of society. At the same time, you want to avoid missing the mark in this area. For example, not every meme or ad needs to be fun. Your efforts can backfire by pushing a trendy theme without the right tone. Who you are, what you promote, and how you execute your message will ultimately matter more than jumping on the latest bandwagon.

Does the Latest Trend Truly Fit Your Brand?

With any moment in society that is gaining traction, marketing teams should be open to opportunities while asking themselves if any aspect of it fits their brand. The good news is that, when there is a clear crossover with your business, you will likely know it without too much analysis. Consumers can tell when a corporation is pushing too hard to make it happen. Jumping on a trend just to be a part of something can turn people off pretty fast by appearing transparent or disingenuous.

Don’t be Late to the Party

One of the main lessons in using social trends is easy to remember yet often ignored by brands wanting to take advantage of a hot moment. Don’t be late! Timing is always important. If the trend is no longer fresh or has already passed, you risk looking out of touch, not to mention unoriginal. Memes tend to have short lifespans, and nothing kills a trend or meme faster than too many brands co-opting the message and using it in an obvious way.

Do Be Sensitive to the Issue

Some of the most high-profile fails in brands co-opting societal trends have been due to a perceived lack of sensitivity.

Consider for a moment what is at the heart of your message. Is it a concern over climate change? A desire for racial progress? Certain movements can be made light of, provided they are handled with care and don’t risk offending a large chunk of society. A Pepsi ad that featured Kylie Jenner was widely panned because too many viewers thought it missed the point of the social protests it was depicting. A similar scenario played out when a Snapchat meme appeared to make light of domestic violence.

Humor and good vibes are powerful tools in marketing and advertising. Just not when they display a lack of consideration of the subject at hand.

Know Your Audience

On the other hand, you can take pains to be sensitive and still miss the mark if you don’t know your audience. Bud Light was praised by some for its ad featuring a well-known trans influencer, but the brand still misunderstood the leanings of its audience. The ad got a lot of attention, just not for the reasons the company was hoping it would. As a result its revenue reportedly dropped 13%, according to Fortunate magazine. The younger, more open-minded crowd they were after may not have been a realistic target audience in the first place.

Avoid Self-Promotion by Using Fun, Lighthearted Messages & Memes

All of that said, some of the most successful campaigns make use of fun and lighthearted messages paired with popular trends to sell a product or service. Is your idea humorous, relatable and shareable on social media? Businesses have a lot of latitude when it comes to memes that can be enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

Just be sure to do so without too much self-promotion. Blatant promotions of your brand, particularly through memes or social media channels, could cost you the engagement you’re striving to reach.

Get More Smart Digital Marketing Tips from Connections Marketing

At Connections Marketing, we help brands combine the proper messaging with the needs of their buyers so that they strike the right balance at every stage. Our team of digital marketing specialists will work with you to determine which aspects of your operations could be improved or updated and go from there.

Ready to start seeing better results? Contact us to discuss the various ways we can help you stay on top of trends in your next campaign.

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