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With social monitoring tools capable of alerting you to in-the-moment trends, it’s tempting to jump at everything in an effort to appear hip. But trendjacking can easily go wrong if you aren’t careful. Here are some do’s and don’ts to follow:

DON’T jump on a trend just because it’s there

Much as you might want to chime in on the latest viral trend, you’ve got to recognize when a trend isn’t a good fit for your audience – or your brand. If you’re leveraging a trend to win over a new audience segment, you could come off as trying too hard if you miss the mark. And you could annoy the audience you already have by posting something that doesn’t resonate with them.

Use your social media listening tools to investigate the interests and passions of your target audience, and then – if it makes sense – share the trend. And make use of your influencers – both to guide your messaging, and to amplify it.

DON’T put brand awareness ahead of human emotion

Celebrity deaths are one type of trend that motivate everyone to post – but these deaths are very real for the families (and even fans) of those celebrities. A respectful tribute, when done well, is appreciated. Anything that smacks of trying to capitalize off of tragedy will only go sideways. And social audiences are your final judge and jury – like it or not.

For example, when Cheerios took to Twitter to honor Prince upon news of his passing in 2016, not everyone found their tribute to be in good taste.

Screencap from the Cheerios Twitter account

The Cheerio dotting the “i” came across as commercializing the tragedy to some – and a vocal “some” is enough to do damage. Social audiences give the phrase “perception is reality” new meaning.

However Cheerios intended the post – and as a Minnesota-based company honoring Prince as a fellow Minnesotan their intentions were good – it wasn’t well received. Lesson learned for Cheerios. But they weren’t the only ones who should have taken note.

DO learn from other’s mistakes

The beauty of social media is how easy it makes competitive intelligence. Everything you want to know about competing brands, and their audiences, is right there for you to analyze for your own benefit.

Unfortunately, when Carrie Fisher recently passed, Cinnabon didn’t learn from Cheerios’ experience:

Screencap from the Cinnabon Twitter account

Instead of taking a look at social media to see how other tribute posts had been received – past and present – Cinnabon learned the hard way just what harsh critics social consumers can be. Which makes it a good time to mention…

DO be sure to monitor social in real-time

Both Cheerios and Cinnabon have weathered the storm of these momentary lapses in judgment because they apologized quickly and sincerely. But more importantly, they were paying attention to know they had to apologize.

Because trends often happen in real-time, you must be able to follow along in real-time to know if your post is working for you or against you – and also to know when the trend is over. Nothing says desperate more than trying to capitalize on a “moment” that’s over.

DO be authentic and human

Social audiences can smell a sales pitch a mile away – and they’re immediately turned off. With so many other brands they can run to, you can’t afford to lose them, so use your sentiment monitoring tools to know what they love – and what they hate – and just talk to them about both as the occasion merits.

Whatever the trend – an awards show, a gaming sensation like Pokémon GO, a celebrity passing or other tragedy – look to social audiences to lead you. They’ll tell you which response is appropriate. Listening to them will keep your brand out of hot water, and maybe even win you favor with both current fans and new audiences. That should always be the goal.

Need a tool that monitors social conversations and sentiment in real-time? Reach out and we’ll give you a one-on-one demo of the NetBase platform.

Image by PaintImpact

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