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How Brands Can Capitalize on Trending Social Topics

I am constantly confounded by the lack of creativity put into so much branded social content today. If you think about it, social media provides marketers with an endless pot of creative gold, just waiting to be repurposed in the form of share-worthy branded content. Yes, it can be challenging to churn out quality social content day-in and day-out, but by shifting your focus and taking advantage of trending topics, social media brand marketers will find that successful social media content is already right in front of you. Below, I’m going to break down exactly how social media marketers can capitalize on trending social topics, regardless of their budget, resources or mental roadblocks.

But first, let’s look at two examples of brands who have done just this.

Everlane: Summer Bucket List 2017

If you have yet to discover one anonymous teen’s Summer Bucket List floating around on social media, where have you been?The list, discovered in an Urban Outfitters dressing room, is as endearing as it is relatable, with line items including “get drunk all the time,” “have sex,” “buy 7 bikinis,” and “eat cotton candy”.

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The list went viral on Twitter overnight, with people of all ages coming together over their favorite parts.

Seeing a window of opportunity for their brand, Everlane took to Instagram to offer their 359k followers an edited version of the list, but from the perspective of a 30-something. The post earned nearly 8,000 likes and over 400 comments, well above their account’s average.

So why did this work? Let’s break it down:

  1. While the original list was written by a teen, Everlane capitalized on the fact that their demographic was responding to it enthusiastically across social media channels.
  2. The topic was extremely timely, and Everlane didn’t waste a second before churning out their own creative.
  3. The post didn’t ask for anything from its audience per se. Rather, it was meant to entertain and engage their audience organically with a bit of humor and relatability.
  4. While the brand probably did not see a spike in sales from this effort, what they did gain was wider brand exposure and stronger brand ethos among their target audience.

Nusret Gökçe: Salt Bae

I know I don’t need to ask if you remember the infamous Salt Bae. Salt Bae had his moment in the spotlight earlier this year and stole the hearts and double-taps of every meat lover on Instagram.

Taking advantage of the ongoing foodporn presented on Instagram and the near God-like status awarded to top chefs on the platform, Chef Nusret Gökçe, owner of a Turkish steakhouse chain, saw his opportunity to jump into the conversation with a low-budget, yet highly-creative jab at the food porn world.

Why did this campaign work? Gökçe saw an opportunity to relate to his audience by putting himself on the line, inviting his followers to share a laugh at his expense. At its core, isn’t that kind of vulnerability the building block of any relationship, social or otherwise? What’s more, the subject of his campaign, his status as a chef, and the inherent humor in its delivery all fit perfectly with the Instagram platform and ultimately lended to the content’s virality.

4 Steps for Social Media Brand Marketers to Capitalize on Trending Topics

Now that we’ve seen the concept in action, let’s talk about how social media brand marketers can recreate this type of success with minimal resources.

1. Stay on top of trending topics

This should be the first item on every social media manager’s agenda, every single day. It takes no more than ten minutes to browse social feeds in search of the day’s trending topics. As a brand, your goal is to engage with your customers where they are, and if they’re all on Twitter laughing over Salt Bae, where are you?

2. You don’t need to think so far outside the box

It can be intimidating, and downright exhausting to churn out creative content that meets business objectives on a daily basis. With limited time and resources, some social media marketers fall into a stale routine because the thought of coming up with something entirely original is simply not in their wheelhouse. Don’t fall into this trap. No one is expecting you to reinvent the wheel on social media. Take a look at what’s already in front of you, and ask yourself how that content might be repurposed for your brand in an organic, enticing way.

3. Don’t force it

While it is exciting to engage with followers on social media, it’s important not to force your brand into a conversation in which it does not belong. Don’t attempt to capitalize on a trending topic simply because it’s trending. Think hard about who it appeals to and how that relates to your audience.

4. Seize the moment, because social media isn’t slowing down

Social media isn’t slowing down anytime soon, and what’s trending one day will most definitely be yesterday’s news before you know it. While brands should always be careful to share content within their own aesthetic parameters, when it comes to capitalizing on trends, they should do so with a sense of urgency. If the moment has past, don’t try to bring it back.

Taylor Rohwedder

WIMZE Digital Helping brands connect, communicate, and inspire.
WIMZE Digital provides full-suite digital marketing services to help businesses grow their audiences and interact authentically in the digital space.