Creating viral content can be difficult and expensive. Plus, it’s impossible to know what will hit your audience ‘just right’ and become a massive hit. What you can do is take advantage of existing viral online trends. By capitalizing on current trends, you can give your content additional reach without investing in an expensive viral marketing campaign of your own.
In this article, we’ll explore the marketing potential of viral online trends, and discuss four essential tips for taking advantage of them. Let’s get started!
The Marketing Potential of Viral Online Trends
Exponentially more people see viral content than the average blog, article, or video. ‘Virality’ is achieved when content, such as a meme, attains widespread reach. Suddenly, it’s everywhere—often virtually overnight.
Both brands and individuals can interact with viral trends to give their own content a boost. A great example of this in action is ‘trending’ Twitter tags. Using a tag when it’s trending can give your company more exposure, fast:
In the above example, a brand could easily jump into the current conversations by mentioning Kelly Clarkson or Led Zeppelin. This could bolster the company’s visibility and performance, as long as its marketers could find some connection between the trending topic and the brand.
Viral content can provide a significant marketing boost with virtually no added cost. This is another reason it’s such an effective advertising strategy. You can’t ever know beforehand if something will go truly viral, but you can see when existing content is trending in that direction.
4 Tips to Help You Take Advantage of Online Trends
There’s a lot of competition out there, especially when it comes to capitalizing on popular content and topics. To make your brand stand out, you’ll need to develop a clear strategy—both for identifying online trends and for deploying content quickly.
It’s important to recognize that viral trends happen (and play out) very fast. So you’ll need to plan ahead carefully. Let’s take a look at three ways you can leverage an online trend effectively.
1. Make Sure That You Understand the Trend
Although you want to react promptly when you identify a promising trend, you’ll need to take a bit of time first to research the trend and its implications. Brands have damaged their businesses and/or reputations by trying to engage with a trend or a meme they didn’t understand.
When you engage with a trend in that way, you risk alienating your audience. They won’t feel ‘seen’, and will likely perceive your brand as insincere. So it’s best to take a look at other viral responses if you’re not sure how to approach a current trend. If the trend seems controversial, it’s often better not to engage.
You’ll also want to identify some reliable resources you can use to quickly gain a clear understanding of a new trend. Fortunately, internet users of all types are prompt to document a viral moment even as it’s happening. You can often grasp the basics quickly by checking out popular sites such as Know Your Meme.
2. Don’t Compromise Your Brand Identity
Jumping on every viral online trend you see in a cookie-cutter manner will eventually dilute your brand identity. Your goal should be to interact with a trend while still maintaining your unique voice. Think of your brand as a ‘person’. How would they interact with the content in question?
If you’re not sure how to do this, a great example is the Wendy’s Twitter account:
As a brand, Wendy’s usually engages with its audience in a tongue-in-cheek manner on social media sites. Here, it’s making fun of the spooky appearance of its own sign. Instead of staying professional and distant, Wendy’s is known for being rather flippant and injecting a clear sense of personality into its content.
Likewise, pay attention to what platforms a given trend is popular on, and whether they’re relevant to your audience. For example, you should probably avoid following TikTok trends if you’re a B2B business, or focusing on LinkedIn trends if you’re a B2C business. It’s vital to know where your audience is and what they’re paying attention to.
3. Try to Engage Your Audience
Before you go any further, you need to know your audience and what interests them. A viral trend is a lot like an ‘event’ that everyone is in on. You don’t want to simply post something and move on – you’ll need to try and encourage your audience to speak back to you.
You can start by asking your followers questions: What do they think about the trend? Have they ever participated in it? You can use tools such as Facebook’s polls to do this easily and quickly.
The more that users interact directly with your brand, the more likely they will be to convert later. That’s why encouraging comments on social media pages and blog posts is so vital.
4. Time Your Engagement Right
After identifying a trend, you have a small window to get in on the ground floor. Once a trend has already exploded, it’s often too late to get meaningful engagement.
That’s why it’s crucial to build processes for identifying significant trends and engaging with them regularly. A good rule of thumb is that after 24 hours, most trends on the internet are already dead. While you can still participate, it’s not likely to yield the best results.
Fortunately, there’s always another big trend right around the corner. If you miss out on one or your attempts to engage with it are unsuccessful, you’ll have another chance soon. It’s best to keep your engagement with each such trend simple—don’t invest too heavily in any one online trend, and play the numbers game instead.
A single ‘viral moment’ can be enough to propel a brand into public consciousness. By following and capitalizing on popular trends, you can vastly increase the exposure of your business—without having to invest a lot of time and money in the process.
In recent months, which viral trend has been the most memorable to you? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!