Avoiding a topical storm

Social Media Strategies

It used to be difficult to keep up with the latest fashion trends, which changed, at most, with the seasons.

These days, trends on social media come and go within hours. And for a business, being topical carries both great risk and great reward.

How do you minimize risk? Before you hit the publish button, ask yourself three questions:

Do I know the topic’s backstory?

Before you “hashtag surf,” know the meaning of the trend and how it started. Too many brands have skipped this step and created horror stories by accidentally inserting themselves into conversations about domestic violence or a criminal trial. If you discover that a trend is sensitive, could alienate someone, or could be misconstrued, the risk is probably greater than any reward.

Is this relevant to your brand/something that your followers will understand?

If you’re jumping on the trend for the sake of looking “hip” or for publicity, rather than having a legitimate tie-in, re-evaluate.

For example, it made sense for many restaurants to tie into McDonald’s #AllDayBreakfast trend, but for us at the Brewers, it wasn’t a fit. On the flipside, when the hashtag #DebateWithBernie came up during the October Democratic Presidential Debate, it left a natural opening for our beloved mascot to chime in for fun.

You will also want to make sure the trend resonates with your followers.

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Is this timely enough?

Speed is everything. There is a certain window in which posting related to a trend is worthwhile and, after that window has closed, you just look like you’re copying others.

To increase your chances of leading trends in the future, monitor your social media channels for top trends. You could also consider setting up a system internally in which any staff can submit content ideas.

That way, the next time the #MKELion appears, you’ll be prepared.

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