A 4-Step Checklist for Brands and Hopping on Social Trends


It’s that time of year again. There’s a crispness in the air, the leaves start to change, and all around the country (or at least in MN) people are reaching for their favorite scarf and pair of boots. It’s almost fall! But something’s missing.
What is it? What could it be?
Oh, of course. It’s Pumpkin Spice [insert product name here] season.
If you’re a marketer of any kind, you’ve likely been planning for Pumpkin Spice since early April. At this point, it’s no longer a trend passing in the night. It is here to stay. Folks expect it. When’s the last time you saw someone in a sweater who wasn’t sipping on a Pumpkin Spice Latte with a shot of happiness?
All of this begs the question: Should your brand hop on the trendwagon? Here are a quick checklist of do’s and don’ts that your brand can apply to any trend, as told through #PumpkinSpice.
Step 1: Determine and establish relevance.
Do find out if your company offers a food, product, or service directly related to pumpkin spice. If so, think about the food your company makes. Do you make waffles? GO FOR IT. Steak spices? I mean, still go for it. That sounds amazing.
Don’t start making food just to hop on this trend. Pumpkin spice flavored windows? No thanks. People don’t (at least shouldn’t) lick windows and they NEVER will.
Step 2: Be original.
Do come up with content that’s creative and fun. In all seriousness, anyone can play in this space. You just need to take the time to really make it a fit.
Do Not just plaster “Pumpkin Spice (FILL IN THE BLANK)” into a tweet or a post and assume that people will interact. The internet is a harsh place. People will call you out for basic content or even worse, they’ll completely ignore you.
Step 3: Interact with and engage a broader community.
Do follow along and play along with trending hashtags! It’s a fun way to get engagement with people who otherwise might not know about your social presence. It’s also a fun way to get the office involved.
Do Not do this if you’re not going to take the time to research the trending hashtag. You need to make sure it’s appropriate, that you’re in on the joke, and that you understand the tone.
Step 4: Stay true to you and your brand.
Do hop on Instagram and post a photo that’s true to who you are. Maybe it’s your staff enjoying a latte or wearing orange shirts. Or maybe you work at a dog shelter and you post a pic of a corgi wearing a pumpkin costume. The caption could read, “Pumpkin Spiced Corgi.”
You know what? Go adopt a corgi and post that picture. That will really make my day.
Don’t stage a beautiful overlay shot of a PSL on an antique wood table with a dream journal if that’s not who you are. It will come across as fake.
Simply put, if you want to play with evergreen content, go for it, but do it in your voice.
The only real trend is authenticity.

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Background on The Social Lights
The Social Lights® is a social-first agency headquartered in Minneapolis that partners with clients to grow their business through strategy development, creative production, media buying, and social media management. Current clients include General Mills, Ecolab, Cargill, Caribou Coffee, Kwik Trip, Polaris and Massage Envy. The Social Lights was founded in 2011 and is a WBENC-Certified Women Business Enterprise. Learn more at The Social Lights.

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