Trendjacking, promoting your brand through a current event or trend, may sound like a cheap publicity trick—and it can be if executed poorly. But, it can also be a beneficial and genuine way to engage with your audience.
To avoid jacking a trend that ruins your credibility and leaves a lot of angry fans storming your social pages, you have to stop and assess with your team. Before you start on a concept, make sure you ask yourself these four questions during your creative brainstorm.
Is it timely?
When you reference a recent trend, it can backfire if you’re late on the uptake. If you incorporate a meme or phrase that is past the height of its popularity, it can make your brand seem out-of-touch or like it’s pandering.
Brands tweeting outdated GIFs can feel a bit like a parent trying to steal their teenager’s clothes. However, using a trend at the right time can make a brand seem relevant and personable.
Is it insensitive to your audience?
At its worst, trendjacking can enter into offensive territory. Make sure you fully understand a trend and its potential impact before you use it to promote a brand. If your trendjacking comes off as tone deaf, it will backfire horribly and you could lose part of your audience.
Chase Bank recently published (and quickly deleted) a tweet that transcribed a hypothetical conversation between a person and their bank account. Chase was hopping aboard the conversation meme trend and Monday Motivation hashtag, but it was not well-received.
Instead, Chase received many critiques on their past government bailout, their CEO’s massive salary, and the hidden charges of banking with them.
It’s a prime example of how something that was meant to be relatable can quickly show just how out of touch a brand is with its customers. Had Chase considered the impact of this trendjack more thoroughly, they may have not come off as snarky and ignorant.
Does it fit your brand’s voice?
When trendjacking, you’ll have to come to terms with the fact that not every trend will work with your brand. If you feel like it might be too far of a reach, then it probably is. This can give off an air of desperation as well as dilute the voice of your brand.
Example: If an assisted living home tweets a reference to a young-adult novel, it’s going to be confusing and completely miss the target audience.
If there’s a way to genuinely connect your brand to a trend, it’s a great marketing tool!
On a recent tour, K-Pop boy band BTS’s live shows in Singapore sold out almost immediately. MSIG Insurance published content on how Singaporean fans could try to watch BTS in other nearby countries on the BTS Asia tour and protect those precious concert tickets with MSIG’s travel insurance.
Does it align with your brand’s values?
Referencing current events or taking a political stance in marketing requires an extra level of thought and tact, but it can be accomplished. After the same-sex marriage bill passed in the UK in 2013, Virgin Airlines posted an ad with the text “Same-sex marriage bill. Passed. Time for a honeymoon.” layered over a picture of two champagne glasses with lipstick marks near the rim.
Virgin Airlines has been a vocal supporter of the LGBTQIA+ community through its social media campaigns. This type of representation and consistency can add credibility to a brand. As consumers gain more access to information, they are also able to keep track of the political alignments of an organization. If a brand takes a stance on certain current events, uses its platform for representation of marginalized groups, or financially supports organizations for social betterment, consumers take notice and align with brands that share their values.
These questions should lead to meaningful conversations among your marketing and content strategists. When done in good taste, the benefits of increased traffic and engagement are extremely rewarding to a brand.
If you’re interested in learning more about a tool that helps you keep track of trends and upcoming news stories, request a demo of PowerPost.