Social trends: Yeet or get yeeted | Twelve Three Media

Social Trends: When Your Brand Should Jump In

10 Minute Read

Trends on social media come and go with rapid speed. Some have staying power, while others peter out in no time flat.

As a social media marketing agency, it is our job to watch emerging trends and determine when it is the best time to jump in. Businesses must make this same determination, balancing the popularity of trends against the brand’s identity, key messaging, and the audience they serve.

So…Are you wondering when you should jump on the latest trend and when it’s not a good fit? Our experts have the answer! Below are the questions we ask ourselves when deciding whether to get in on the fun and engagement of the latest social media trend:

What Is the Origin of the Trend (& Are There Risks to Using It?)

As little as 10 years ago, the Internet still had something akin to a “collective unconscious.” Most people remember the Ice Bucket Challenge, “laurel vs. yanny,” “what color is the dress?,” etc. You’ll also remember that just about every person, brand, and organization capitalized on these trends to ride the wave of their reach and popularity.

Today, the online landscape is much more fragmented. Every now and then you might get a phenomenon like “Barbenheimer” that transcends the usual silos, but this is the exception and not the rule.

Social media trends are a lot more malleable these days. Rather than being centered on a particular cause or event, all kinds of crazy stuff can become trendy:

  • Memes
  • Pop culture ephemera
  • Trending audio
  • Skits and candid content
  • And much, much, much more

There is a lot more room for creativity when the genesis of a particular trend is so unpredictable. However, it is important to know where the trend originated and be aware of the original context. You don’t want to appear tone-deaf or insensitive—even by accident. When evaluating whether you should jump on a trend, here are some things to consider:

  • How will this be perceived by the audience? Do I know enough about my audience to gauge this?
  • Is this insensitive or offensive?
  • Can this negatively impact my brand perception?
  • Is there a legitimate connection between this trend and our brand, or is it forced?

Businesses have an opportunity to join the conversation and demonstrate a fun side of their brand, but they can also risk a PR nightmare. It’s crucial to fully evaluate the trend and the potential outcomes.

Does the Trend Feel Authentic to Our Brand AND the Platform?

Joining in on social media trends is a way to embrace creativity, self-expression, and even love for a particular person, event, cause, etc. But it’s important to be leading the bandwagon and not trotting along behind it. Your social media strategy should include a mix of original content, owned creativity, and topical trends. Everything you create should be (a) expressed through your brand’s unique personality and (b) relevant to your target audience.

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A post shared by Southwest Airlines (@southwestair)

Before you start thinking of ways to tap into the latest trend, ask yourself: Does this tie back to my brand and business goals? Think about your brand identity as well as the audience you’re trying to reach.

Staying on top of trends can be quite the feat. We know, work is busy and life is hectic. For Twelve Three Media it’s pretty easy because we’re fully tapped in.

We’re a part of the generation that’s chronically online. Naturally, we stay on the pulse of conversations, trends, pop culture, meme culture, sports culture, “I think you should leave” culture, sweet treat culture, and just about every social media subculture you can possibly think of to find inspiration and brainstorm creative ideas for us and our clients.

@twelve3media Mind ya business #agencytok #officehumor ♬ original sound – Twelve Three Media

And yeah…maybe some industries have an easier time tapping into trends. We think of our neighborhood breweries, outdoor apparel companies, and restaurants. These businesses have an arguably easier time capturing, entertaining, and resonating with their audiences.

But some of the more traditional verticals may be thinking, “what in the heck is a TikTok?” and “how do I get this posted to my Facebook?” No, we’re not hating—we get it.

There are pleeennttyyy of ways, however, for your traditionally traditional vertical to get in on the action in a way that’s authentic, makes sense for your business, and can help drive awareness and engagement for your brand. Even something as “boring” as personal injury has the ability to show their human side. Just take a look at this Friday Beers 🤝 Morgan & Morgan collab.

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A post shared by Friday Beers 🤝 (@friday.beers)

Ultimately, trendy social content should:

1. Be relevant to your brand
@salomon When you’re at the office and it’s a bluebird day. 🥲⛷️ #ski #skitok #skiingtiktok #freeski #skitoks #skiingtiktoks #salomon ♬ Irresistible rizz – North Valley Group

2. Support your business goals

We've got options 💅

♬ original sound – hydroflask

3. Engage, entertain, or educate your audience in a positive way
@hatchforsleep No one does the job better ⛅️💤 #fyp #foryou #sleep #bedtok #sleephygiene #sleepsounds #rest #naptime #sleeptips #soundmachine #capcut #youhavebeenpromoted ♬ original sound – Hatch for Sleep

You also need to think about where the content is going to be posted. Platforms like TikTok and Instagram have distinctive visual styles and support specific types of content. If the trend is more like what you’d see on a “legacy” platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, you shouldn’t try to force the content onto one of the flashier counterparts. 

This works both ways, too. If the trend is happening on TikTok, it probably won’t work on LinkedIn. Yes, Pookie’s outfit looks absolutely fire on TikTok, but it might not seem as fire on LinkedIn.

@campbellhuntpuckett If you come to Atlanta, go to Hal’s🔥 #datenight #couple #outfit #foodie ♬ original sound – Campbell Puckett

So understanding audience behaviors on these different platforms is key when evaluating where you should post what content. Just try to stay as authentic as possible to each platform, its audience, and your brand, okay? Okay.

Are We Engaging With the Trend Early (Ideally Before It Becomes More Than a Few Weeks Old)?

Social media moves at the speed of culture, and sometimes culture moves really fkn fast. It’s not about keeping up—it’s about knowing when to strike.

Picture this, you’re a mountain lion in a documentary narrated by Sir David Attenborough. You’re hiding in the tall grass, watching an endless number of deer (opportunity) graze. You move too suddenly or choose the wrong one, you may not eat. But with the right approach, understanding of how the deer operate, how you operate, and your own intuition, you can strike at the perfect time and, boom, success.

If you haven’t gotten our wildly frightening and intense reference, the deer are social media trends and opportunities. Having an understanding of social media marketing, your industry, and your audience to try and forecast what trends will be viable is key to your success. The “virality” might only last for a few days (at most), but engaging trends can resonate on certain platforms and with certain audiences for long after that.

If you determine that a trend makes sense for your business and/or presents a good opportunity, it’s ideal to strike while the iron is hot. Sometimes it simply pays to assume that the content will remain relevant because you have a unique idea that your followers will respond to and/or the trend complements your unique POV.

Can We Produce On-Trend Content on Time?

This question complements the one above. In addition to staying on top of the trends, you need to have a realistic understanding of your ability to produce social content in a timely fashion.

@twelve3media next up: what should the caption be? 🤜🤛 #bluemonday #officelife #agencylife #bluemondaytrend ♬ son original – Eyemazy France 👀

Long gone are the days where you could just write up a choice tweet and bask in the outpouring of views, comments, and retweets. At minimum, you’ll likely need some kind of custom asset that uses elements of the trend in question. You also need to decide whether you want to adhere to your brand standards and style guide or embrace elements of the platform (for example, we’ve seen a lot of brands use TikTok’s fonts in their trending content).

More than 40% of Americans watch online videos every day, with social video driving the most engagement. It’s safe to say that video makes up the majority of trending social content. With this in mind, you need to have the know-how to effectively record and edit video in a way that authentically captures and matches the prevailing look and feel of the trend.

Another important consideration: If your version of the trend achieves virality (🤞), you need to be ready and able to handle a massive influx of comments, messages, etc. Social media is all about making connections, so engaging with new and current followers is crucial for getting the most from your moment in the spotlight.

When it comes to moderation on social platforms, having an understanding of how to respond to users on each platform is key! There’s a trend in this article, if you’re paying attention: Respecting the platform and its user behaviors is huge. How you reply to users on TikTok will be vastly different when compared to a platform like LinkedIn—know the difference.

T3 Tip: Produce your “evergreen” content monthly–and a week or so ahead of the month it goes live. This will allow your team to be nimble and dynamic to not only look out for trends, but be able to jump on the right ones.

No in-house social media team? We can handle that for you, or provide supplemental social support. C’mon guys, of course we gotta add a plug.

Does It Make Sense With the Other Content We Are Currently Posting?

Finding your WHY is one of the first components of branding. Once you’ve defined who you are (your mission, your vision, what you do, and the audience you serve), you can effectively market your business across all channels.

Your WHY is particularly vital for effective social media marketing. People aren’t going to follow a brand with no personality, nor are they going to engage with a brand whose personality and/or sensibilities don’t align with their needs, preferences, and goals.

When you know your brand identity inside and out, you can be much more thoughtful and intentional in what trends you choose to hop on and how. If your brand is active on social media (and there’s no excuse in this day and age if you’re not), you should have no problem determining how a particular trend fits with the other content you post and deciding whether it’s a good fit.

Are We Oversaturating Our Content With Trends?

If y’all are, ya need to stop. There’s an art to this, you need to find a balance, and, most importantly, you need to understand who you are as a brand.

Yes, staying on top of trends is important. But if all you’re doing is being a part of the noise, you’re probably lacking an authentic, established presence and audience. So have an identity, know your audience and what makes them tick, and be creative and try things—all while staying true to your brand.

Not convinced? OK, but Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri’s saying exactly the same thing: “We want to be the best platform for creators online, which means we need to do more to drive reach to creators who create original content.” 

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A post shared by Adam Mosseri (@mosseri)

That’s why we consider finding your WHY as the cornerstone of any successful brand marketing. It’s important to be part of the discourse, but you need an authentic personality to make the trends your own and get people to take notice.

Returning to the dress example: Was it white and gold or was it, in fact, blue and black?? We can only speculate, but what’s important is that everyone and their dog had something to say (or bark) about that phenomenon. The videos and commentary that stood out were the ones where participants used their creativity and personality to do something unique. 

Can We Use Trending Audio?

Want to create something original for social while leveraging a trend? Integrating trending audio (when relevant) is the best of both worlds!

@twelve3media Who’s your Steven? #agencylife #officehumor #wfh ♬ original sound – LADbible

This is especially true on TikTok, where certain songs and audio clips take on a life of their own and even enter everyday usage (think “why is it spicy” or “okay I like it, Picasso”). Social media has the power to mold culture, and leveraging quotes and music is just one more way to position your brand at the forefront of the conversation.

T3 Tip: On videos that have their own audio, such as a talking head video, you can still leverage trending audio to play well with platform algorithms. Social platforms allow you to adjust the volume settings on both the video audio and added platform audio. So, with a little technical know-how, you can add trending audio, adjust the volume, and still allow your video’s intended audio to play.

The Secret Sauce to Social Media Marketing: Riding Trends While Being Yourself

First and foremost, you need to think of yourself as a creator. Trends come and go, but the core identity of your brand should remain consistent. If you create content around a trend, your take on it needs to be original and authentic.

You also need to be nimble and creative enough to take advantage of trends when they’re trending. If you struggle to create timely, on-brand social media content, you probably need help from a cutting-edge agency committed to helping you reach your business goals.

Twelve Three Media has the expertise to develop an engaging mix of trending and original content. Learn how we can take your social media marketing to the next level!

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