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Trendjacking, Popular Culture, And Your Brand’s Place In It

So, you wanna be like those gnarly brands that ride epic internet trend waves all the way to the shore where digital fans–and reporters–are chanting your name? Then you need to master the art of trend surfing, a.k.a. trendjacking.

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Trendjacking: The practice of capitalizing on the popularity of an existing trend to amplify one’s brand by “joining the conversation”, amplify one’s brand to gain attention, appear relevant and increase social media presence

Tread the trendjacking waters carefully; this social media tactic can bring your brand massive success or create a catastrophic PR nightmare.

Don’t let my warning be off-putting, though; there are major brand benefits to surfing the trendjacking waves–if you follow best practices. Before we dive into best practices, let’s take a look at the brand benefits.

Participating in a trending topic/discussion is a valuable tactic for the following reasons:

  • It’s low-hanging fruit

Constantly coming up with original content from scratch is a time-consuming struggle. It’s much easier to “piggyback” off already existing content that everyone is talking about. The key is putting your own spin on the conversation.

  • Increase brand visibility and extend your message to people outside the brand’s usual demographic.

Thousands of people click on Twitter’s trending hashtags, some of them might see your brand’s spin on the topic, like it and go to your profile where the entire story you’ve created about your brand exists.

  • Inject a little personality into your brand.

Your customers don’t live their lives within the confines of a particular product/service bubble, so why should your brand? Get your brand out there and frolic with your customers!

  • Showcase thought leadership through a value-added angle.

A trend’s story and meaning are in the eye of the user. Some will put an infotainment spin on a trend while others will inject value into the conversation; the “sweet spot” is if you can pull off both. The way you spin it depends on the context, your brand voice and your target audience.

Before you and your brand hang ten on a trendjacking wave, wax your surfboard with these 9 best practices:

  • ALWAYS check the backstory of the trend you’re looking to jack. You don’t want to be “that brand” that totally whiffed the contextual mark.
  • ALWAYS follow the value-adding rule. 
  • Match your brand voice and messaging to the target audience. Don’t force it; if it doesn’t align with your brand voice, values, offerings and target audience, move on. There will be other trends, friends, because the internet.
  • Be creative, original, witty and memorable.
  • Be EXTRA sensitive. Don’t make an uh-oh SpaghettiOs move:

spaghettios

  • Act FAST. An infinitely wise man by the name of Ricky Bobby once said, “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” It applies to winning races and winning at social media.
  • Put some money behind it to ensure it becomes part of the conversation.
  • Just because a topic is “trending” doesn’t mean it’s worth your attention. Like my dad always used to say, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” The same goes for trendjacking.
    • [BONUS] Tools to help find trends worth jacking:
  • Have a sense of humor.

Now that you know what trendjacking is and how it can benefit (or hurt) your brand and your surfboard is waxed with best practices, you’re ready to ride the internet trend waves. Before you do, here’s a video of Jon Lovitz and a roaring shark we pulled from client GoDaddy’s commercial to trendjack Shark Week.

Go forth and be awesome!

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