When it comes to promoting and growing a brand on social media, staying relevant is not a luxury but a necessity. The sheer volume of content being generated every second is nothing short of overwhelming. Social platforms are inundated with an explosion of videos, images, stories, and messages vying for users' attention. Not to mention that there are new social media platforms hitting the app stores every day too.
In this tidal wave of content, trends rise and fall rapidly. What's viral today might be forgotten tomorrow. A brand's social media success hinges on its ability to ride the waves of trends.
Trend Awareness and the Art of Strategically Reactive Social Media Marketing
Strategic and reactive – can those two approaches coexist in the same marketing and advertising plan? While they might seem opposite in nature, effective social media strategies are designed to reactively adapt to trends while staying within the lines of strategic guidelines.
In the context of social media marketing, being strategic involves planning content calendars, identifying target audiences, setting campaign objectives, and having a roadmap for achieving marketing goals. However, being reactive is also essential to capitalize on viral trends, respond to audience feedback, or adjust strategies based on real-time data and market shifts.
Successful brand marketing often involves a balance between strategic planning and the ability to react swiftly to changing circumstances, trends, or consumer behaviors. This blend allows brands to stay agile, relevant, and adaptable in the dynamic landscape of social media and beyond.
Why Trend Awareness Matters: A Crucial Element in Your Brand’s Social Media Presence
In the trendy world of social media marketing, the only constant is change. Let’s unravel why this is not just a trend but a strategic imperative for brands aiming to thrive in the virtual space:
A Well of Inspiration:
Studies indicate that most social media users prefer to see new and fresh content regularly. Around 60% to 70% of users expect brands to publish content at least once a week, if not more frequently. Rather than starting from scratch with you social content ideation each week, a great social listening strategy can provide you with trending topics, templates, audio, and more to get the creative juices flowing.
Capturing Audience Attention:
Social media trends are attention magnets. Users actively seek out and engage with content that is currently popular or aligns with ongoing trends and discussions, and there’s good reason to believe the all-powerful and often-mystical algorithms push trending topics too. When your content seamlessly blends with the ongoing social media chatter, capturing the attention of your audience comes naturally.
Posts that are recent, topical, and relevant to current events or trends tend to receive more likes, comments, and shares compared to outdated or recycled content. At the heart of social media lies the essence of interaction. Explore how trends play a pivotal role in fostering meaningful engagements. By aligning your content with what's currently trending, your not only increase the likelihood of user interactions but also cultivate a genuine connection with your audience.
Growth Factors and Benefits: Social media trends and growth go hand in hand. The more users engage with a trend, the more it proliferates across the digital landscape, exposing your brand to a larger audience. Trend integration, from boosting brand visibility and building a loyal community, increasing overall engagement with your brand and drive down-the-funnel interactions and purchases.
The Struggle is Real: Challenges Trend-Aware Brands Face in Social Media Reactivity
It’s clear that there’s a strategic advantage to be claimed for brands who can stay nimble and create trend-aligned content on the fly. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
Brands aiming to react and participate in social media trends face several challenges in navigating this landscape:
Authenticity Concerns: Jumping on trends can sometimes feel forced or inauthentic if not executed well. Brands risk appearing insincere or opportunistic if they don't align with the trend naturally or if their involvement feels like a blatant marketing ploy.
Speed and Timing: The rapid rise and fall of trends require quick responses. Being too slow to react might result in missed opportunities or appearing out of touch. However, swift reactions can also lead to mistakes if not thoughtfully considered.
Relevance and Audience Understanding:
Not all trends resonate with a brand's audience. Understanding one's audience and their preferences is crucial. Participating in a trend that doesn't align with the brand's values or the interests of their demographic can result in disconnect or alienation.
Risk of Backlash: Social media is a double-edged sword. Brands can face backlash for misinterpreting a trend or making inappropriate comments or jokes, leading to negative attention, boycotts, or damage to their reputation.
Consistency and Brand Identity: Balancing participation in trends with maintaining a consistent brand identity is challenging. Trends might conflict with a brand's established tone or values, leading to a potential dilution of brand identity.
Resource Allocation: Participating in trends often requires allocating resources, both in terms of time and creativity. Not all trends will yield significant returns, so brands must prioritize where and when to invest their efforts.
Navigating these challenges requires a delicate balance between agility, authenticity, audience understanding, and strategic decision-making. Brands that successfully navigate these obstacles can leverage social media trends to their advantage, boosting engagement and fostering stronger connections with their audience.
React and Engage: Winning Approaches for Advertisers in Real-Time Social Media
Now that we’ve covered the stumbling blocks that come with reacting to social media trends, we can build an actionable plan to employ this social marketing tactic effectively. Here are some considerations to put into your social media strategy:
Practice Social Listening: Establish a comprehensive social listening program to monitor conversations, trends, and user sentiment across various platforms. This allows you to identify emerging trends and topics that align with your brand's messaging.
Maintain Consistent Brand Identity: Ensure your team understands and embraces your brand's identity and values. This knowledge will help in discerning which trends or conversations are in alignment with your brand and which ones might not resonate well.
Embrace Storytelling in Content Creation: Adopt a storytelling approach in your content. Craft narratives that align with the trends in which you participate and entertain or educate your audience. A compelling story can transform a branded post into authentic content that users are more likely to engage with and share.
Build a Video Library for Quick Adaptation: Develop a repository of video assets that reflect your brand's messaging and identity. These assets can be repurposed or quickly adapted to align with emerging trends, allowing for swift creation and deployment of video content. Hearst’s Very Local Brand Studio is here to help you craft your video library with professionally produced-video content! Create stunning cut-downs quickly with raw and final footage that you own.
Test and Iterate Rapidly: Embrace an agile mindset by testing new content formats, messaging, or strategies and quickly analyzing their performance. Learn from both successes and failures, iterating rapidly to optimize your reactive social media marketing efforts.
Empower Teams with Decision-Making Authority: Enable your marketing and content creation teams with the autonomy to make quick decisions. Empower them to act swiftly in response to trends or opportunities without extensive layers of approval, fostering agility and responsiveness.
Leverage Influencer Partnerships: Forge relationships with relevant influencers who align with your brand. Collaborate with them to amplify your message and leverage their expertise in staying attuned to audience preferences and trends.
Real-Time Engagement and Customer Interaction: Be responsive to comments, messages, and mentions in real-time. Engage with your audience promptly, fostering a sense of community and demonstrating your brand's active presence and responsiveness.
Monitor Analytics and Adapt Strategies: Regularly analyze performance metrics and social media analytics to understand what works best. Use this data to refine strategies, optimize content, and adapt to evolving trends and audience preferences.
Stay Updated and Adaptive: Stay abreast of industry news, cultural shifts, and platform updates. Being informed about the latest developments allows your brand to remain adaptive and responsive to changing dynamics in the social media landscape.
Conclusion: Navigating Trends for Social Media Success
At its core, social media is SOCIAL; it's about actively participating in ongoing conversations. Staying aware of and incorporating trends into your strategy is a strategic move that can elevate your brand's online presence, foster community engagement, and contribute to sustained growth in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Our resident digital strategy expert, Jeff Biletnikoff is available as a resource to advertisers. Get in touch with your specific questions here.