Trending topics can catapult brands to internet fame or land them on the top of r/fellowkids. There’s a thin line between the two, and it’s not always easy to navigate. We’ve pulled together 7 things to consider before leaning into a cultural moment.
1. How long has it been trending?
Timing can be everything. Getting in on a trend too late can automatically make the execution lame (even if it’s clever). Keep in mind, if you’re live tweeting an award show or football game, your window of opportunity will likely be small. Be ready to commit to the moment as soon as you see it!
Power out? No problem. pic.twitter.com/dnQ7pOgC
— OREO Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
2. Does it relate to your brand?
If your brand doesn’t sell popcorn, you might not want to post on #NationalPopcornDay. It seems simple, but it’s so easy to get swept up in trending hashtags like this. Stay true to your brand.
3. Is it relevant to your audience?
You need to know which cultural moments your audience cares about, what your audience believes, and their perception of your brand. This knowledge keeps people from asking: why is [brand] tweeting about [trending topic]?
4. Does it fit in your voice?
Is this something your brand would comment on? Does it fit with the rest of your content? What does your brand stand for? What are your brand’s values? Know your brand and its voice before creating or joining a cultural conversation.
5. Are other brands posting about it?
If other brands are posting about it and getting a good response, you may be in the clear. Take note of how they manipulated the trending topic to fit their brand, product, or services. If you’re not seeing any other brand activity, it’s either too risky or too new. You could be the first to jump in!
6. Does it feel forced?
Trust your gut. Just because you can share something doesn’t mean you should. When a tragedy or celebrity death is trending, well-intentioned participation from brands often backfires by appearing to exploit the situation for cheap impressions.
We apologize for the earlier tweet regarding the A-10. It was made in poor taste and we are addressing it internally. It has since been removed.
— U.S. Air Force (@usairforce) May 17, 2018
When you can’t hear #Yanny or #Laurel because you're too busy listening to audiobooks. pic.twitter.com/i9EKBlE1bz
— Audible (@audible_com) May 16, 2018
7. Is it worth it?
Take calculated risks (and prepare for every response). You don’t have to play it completely safe. The unexpected gets attention. There are countless examples of brands participating in cultural moments that seemed risky before they ultimately paid off. Know the potential risks and prepare for handling them before engaging in a cultural moment.
After you’ve considered these questions, you’re ready to make a decision about whether or not to post. Sometimes knowing your place in culture means staying out of certain cultural conversations.
Get More Insights Into Culture
Learn more about how your brand can stay culturally relevant when you download the Culture Issue of Trend Tap.