Leveraging trending topics for social media success

Discover the trend, ride the wave

Leveraging trending topics for social media success can be a goldmine when it comes to marketing, and whatever your industry or niche, there is bound to be topic that is relevant, or can be made use of in some way.

By taking advantage of a trending topic, we are essentially accessing a percentage of the audience that will be searching for, or already engaged with, this topic. This can either be done by the use of Hashtags, or the trending topics sections of social networking sites.

When you take advantage of an already trending topic, you are riding the wave of people interested in the same topic – essentially forming a kind of club, or ‘following’. By surfing that wave, you are engaging with that audience and also the attention of people who are already with you on your journey through the online world. Leveraging trending topics for social media success is not as hard as you might think, it just takes a little forethought.

So, how do you discover what topics are trending, what are the things that everybody is talking about? Well, I use four main sources where you can tune into for a sense of what is going on in the world, and they are:

Facebook handles trending topics slightly differently than Twitter, and is probably easier to use for it too. Google Plus on the other hand, is a little odd. You see, in the section linked to above, you will see topics and posts that are ‘trending’ on Google Plus… And these are very rarely the same as the topics that are traditionally seen as trending. This strange self promotion seems at odds with the search engines desire for internet search data dominance, and to be honest nobody knows for sure how things are ranked for this section of the network.

Hashtags are another matter, however, and to see what’s trending you have to start typing in to the ‘search a hashtag’ dialogue box. The whole experience is a little odd, but it is made simpler on mobile – tapping the arrow next to ‘Home’ will show you various options, as well as the current trending topics and hashtags.

Last, but by no means least, there’s  BuzzSumo. It’s a web-based program that trawls the web for content based on search queries, so you can quickly categorise and identify hot topics, what is trending and identify key influencers on desired topics, for networking purposes. It should be a key tool in any content marketers kit bag, simply because of  its ability to identify what content is working well in a particular industry and who is influencing the dissemination of the content. Need to find posts , videos and infographics on a particular subject matter? No problem. Quickly gather stats on industry influencers then export all the intelligence into spreadsheets for further analysis.

Choosing your trending

Finding trending topics is a relatively simple affair, as you can see, so your next logical step is choosing one to run with. Now, your first instinct might be to grab the one at the top; that’s more popular, right, so naturally you need that one?

Not really. What if the topic sat at the top of the pile happens to be something controversial, and has nothing to do with the business that you are in or the audience that you are trying to attract? You will just come across as being controversial, for the sake of being controversial, and nobody likes that guy!

You need to be choosy, and select something that has a connection to your business or industry in some way, and something that your existing audience is going to appreciate (while you are trying to attract new eyes and leads, you should never forget the ones that you already have).

Make sure that you pick only genuine trends, and not those that have been manufactured or ‘promoted’ by a brand – these are not likely to yield the kinds of results that you are looking for, so try to ask yourself ‘does this look like blatant self promotion?’ If the topic, or hashtag, contains brand names or slogans, and paints them in a ‘glaringly positive’ way, then there’s a good chance that it is manufactured.

It is also critical that you actually read up on why something is trending, before you try to leverage it. The last thing you want to do is make a mistake of this kind of magnitude:

whyistayed-digiorno-325x325

DiGiorno Pizza used a trending hashtag in order to promote its pizza, what it did not do is check why that hashtag was trending. #WhyIStayed and it’s partner tag #WhyILeft were created in order to highlight domestic abuse, and the struggles and bravery of the victims involved. Of course, DiGiorno Pizza apologised but the damage was done.

Bottom line: Find out the why.

Leveraging trending topics for social media success

Once you have a short-list, there is no reason why you have to stick to just one topic, you should start brainstorming to figure how to best use it (or them).

With Twitter, it could be a simple case of using the hashtag together with a pithy comment (as the aforementioned pizza parlour tried to do, and failed miserably) – preferably with a suitable image to back it up.

Other social networks, such as Facebook and Google Plus, are going to require you getting a little more creative (Google Plus will add hashtags for you, making the task a little easier). By combining a trending topic with a popular meme, for example, may lead down some interesting roads.

If directness is your style, try not to be offensive with it – sure, you will get a lot of interaction but is it going to be the kind that leads to increased conversions? Probably not.

In conclusion

When creating your content, post, or witty tweet, try to keep in mind what it is that you are trying to achieve and don’t get too carried away with things. The whole point of this exercise is elevate your brand above the maddening crowd, to get into the mainstream of pop-culture, even if it is just a fleeting moment, and reach new audiences. We’re always here to talk to you and recommend how best to create and share that content, so contact us and we’ll be happy to help

It will all be for nothing if you cannot retain your new audience, because the point of any business is to retain customers, and not wave them goodbye after just one purchase.

How you retain them is another challenge, and one that you are always going to be working on no matter what, but making sure that your new customers are more than satisfied with your product and service is an excellent place to start, don’t you think?

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