May is arguably the month with the most whimsical start. From *NSYNC and Dream Girls memes, to Star Wars Day (May the 4th) and Cinco de Mayo (the 5th), there’s a lot for brands to have fun with in their social listening this month. Here’s how.

Don’t Go In Blind

Before you can leverage a trend, you need to understand what it’s about. Otherwise, you’ll come across as trying too hard to fit in, or even get yourself into hot water, which is worse than not taking part at all.

A great place to start is with a general terms search in NetBase Pro. When we search “Star Wars Day” we find a list of hashtags that help us see how the conversation is being categorized on social media.

#StarWarsDay is the primary hashtag, with variations on #MayThe4thBeWithYou accounting for the rest. If you decide to participate, you know how to flag your posts. Now the question remains whether this trend aligns with your brand values and personality.

It’s okay if it doesn’t, by the way. Not every trend is a fit for every brand.

Look to Your Audience

To know if your brand should “go there,” use your social listening tools to look at how social users are responding to the trend. In this case, it’s just about all positive sentiment:

Looking at the associated post to see what’s getting the most engagement lets you understand what’s really driving the conversation. And remember to see what the negative posts are all about as well – in case there’s something your brand should avoid.

So what are people excited about? Here’s a post getting some attention:

If you’re a sporting goods brand near Farmville, VA you know you’ve got some baseball and softball fans who also love Star Wars Day. This is a good trend for you to use. Explore popular posts, media and channels for the best ways to engage your audience.

Avoid Offending People

Now let’s take a look at sentiment around Cinco de Mayo.

Though there’s certainly lots of love for the “holiday,” not everyone is on board.

Negative behaviors like “not celebrate” include posts from Hispanics who feel the holiday has been misappropriated by non-Hispanics –

– as well as those pointing out a political disconnect.

If you’re a brand already in hot water for appearing to support President Trump – and by extension his border wall idea – you might not want to make a big show of the day, offering discounted margaritas and such.

Remember, it’s about consumer perception more than brand reality. So be sure to stay on top of your social monitoring, to be alerted to any uptick in negative sentiment.

It’s not that you can’t get into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo, given that it’s taken on a larger, commercial life than its origins. It’s simply smart – always – to understand the depth of the waters you’re wading into.

Particularly if your audience is Hispanic, you might want to tread carefully trying to connect over Cinco de Mayo. But no matter who your target consumers are, it’s always important to do your research, via social listening, and only jump on trends with analytic support.

Do that, and you won’t need the help of a Jedi master to succeed. You won’t be able to avoid it.

Have you seen our social listening tools at work? Get in touch and we’ll give you a customized tour.

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