Capitalizing on Cultural Trends: How Brands Can Win on Social Media
This is a special guest post written by Ty Corneiro, a member of our 2019 student summer internship program.
These days, it’s important for brands to take part in the conversation on social media.
However, there’s more to a successful online presence than simply posting daily or cultivating relationships with followers—you must also look to use cultural moments to your advantage.
It’s this space where brands and trends intersect that gives rise to creative and playful social media marketing.
Before delving into the first example, I would specifically like to give context to Twitter’s environment; It’s a platform which is heavily used for jokes and banter, especially around trending news. Many users try to “one up” the other by being wittier in their responses—thus, things that are extremely witty and funny end up gaining retweets and going viral.
On Twitter, certain brands have adopted a great strategy that plays into this theme and serves as a marketing tool.
For example, within the past year Wendy’s has been heard of more and more frequently for their Twitter account, where they banter with other companies, competitors and even the average user.
Wendy’s even went so far as to have a “roast thread” on National Roast Day (January 4th, for anyone who was wondering) where the Wendy’s account would playfully insult people who replied to their tweet. Because of this, Wendy’s received free brand exposure by people retweeting and posting screenshots of their responses.
Their strategy is a perfect example of how to take advantage of a moment in the cultural calendar to build brand awareness and message reach.
Another example of brands tapping into current trends can be seen with this year’s “Bottle Cap Challenge.” In this new social media craze, a person does a roundhouse kick to unscrew a bottle cap, leaving the bottle standing.
Ryan Reynolds decided to turn this new trend into a perfect marketing campaign for his new gin brand, Aviation, where he released a short, humorous video of him trying to do this with one of his bottles.
Reynolds has obviously marketed his gin before—but I feel like I can speak for most when I say that I didn’t know about his liquor line until watching his video. This was an excellent example of how capitalizing on a cultural trend across social media can expand brand awareness with consumers.
But when it comes to current trends, you must make sure you do not go too far in trying to be socially relevant. You must try to demonstrate social media competence while also not overselling how “culturally aware” your brand is.
It’s no easy task, and many, many brands have struggled with this concept.
The social media landscape is littered with brand “fails” on social media or efforts that simply fell flat. Just look at what happened when the U.S. Air Force tried to capitalize on a popular meme that was making the rounds.
On top of this, timing is everything. It will play a considerable role in making your social media marketing successful or not. It’s important to act swiftly and make the most of certain trends before they go by the wayside and leave the cultural conversation.
While capitalizing on cultural trends is a strategy that can provide a brand marketing “win,” it’s imperative that a company stays true to their own voice that they have created for themselves.
For example, a law firm looking for an increase in awareness cannot have a “roast session” on Twitter like Wendy’s did.
Ultimately, a brand must be tasteful and self-aware to ensure successful and issue-free social media marketing.
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