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Why Trend-Hopping Can Lead to Brand Failure on Social

Authors: Leanna Pham Leanna Pham Leanna Pham Gia Lee
Posted Under: Social Media
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Why Trend-Hopping Can Lead to Brand Failure on Social

What should you consider before hopping on a social trend?

There’s an estimated 4.9 billion users on social media right now with most users spread out across 5-6 platforms. It’s no surprise that these social media platforms are requiring us to develop independent strategies for our brand. What most brands want is to reach as many people as possible right? And one of the ways that they think they can achieve that is through trendy content. 

In the world of marketing, it seems as though trendy content is what sells, is what’s important, and is what will make a brand “go viral.” We know, you’re probably tired of hearing that word, but let’s face it, virality is never going away. There’s great benefits to incorporating trendy content in your brand channels, however, there’s a misconception that just hopping into the trend will lead to success for your brand. Will it give you potential exposure? Sure. But is it guaranteed? Absolutely not. 

With the average attention span at just 8 seconds, it’s easy to assume that being trendy will keep a viewer interested. However, as with anything in life, diving into unfamiliar territory without reading the terrain can lead to catastrophe. You don’t want to end up allocating time and energy into something that you don’t fully understand how to approach and maintain. Before you consider hopping on trends for your brand, there’s a few things to consider. 

#1 Will this social trend add value to your brand?

Brands hopping on trends is, we’re going to say it – lazy. It’s a shortcut, the ultimate one-size-fits-all approach that tries to please everybody that it ends up pleasing nobody. Ultimately what it boils down to is the question of value. When brands hop on trends, they’re trying to seem “cool” or “relevant” or “in-the-know” which has everything to do with perception (fluff) and nothing to do with impact (value).

Instead, brands need to do a little bit of self-reflection and introspection themselves. Asking questions like: “Who is this brand for?” “How can this brand make their lives better?” “What tangible benefit can people get from this brand?” sounds basic, but is often a step skipped by brand and content marketers alike. Really digging into this as a core source for content allows for original and value-providing content as opposed to following oftentimes meaningless trends.

Brands hopping on trends is, we’re going to say it – lazy. 

#2 Can you build upon any attention earned by hopping on this social trend?

Something that brands are not thinking about prior to jumping on trends is longevity. As mentioned in the recent Social Pros Unfiltered episode, you have to ask yourself how long can you maintain a trend? This is content that is not meant to last and stay relevant. 

Trends tend to have a shelf-life of 90-days – specifically on TikTok. Despite this 3-month timeframe, remember that most social media and content teams require approvals before taking off with an idea. This can significantly delay your posting schedule if the approval process takes longer than the trends shelf-life. Pairing evergreen content in your social media strategy is crucial if you want to maintain presence to your audience. Relying on trends to get you vanity numbers will only push your customers further away if you’re not strategic with it. 

Trends tend to have a shelf-life of 90-days – specifically on TikTok. 

#3 Are you too heavily relying on this fleeting social trend?

That being said, trends aren’t all bad. It’s when trends are overused and dominate a brand’s content mix where it falls hollow. It is possible to use trends and have it support and even further brand content. Trending audios for instance, are a great way for a brand to be relevant without diluting its message.

American Ballet Theatre

Leveraging Taylor Swift audio, audience comments, and rat-tok to promote The Nutcracker – 617.2K Views

@americanballettheatre Replying to @Sarah are you ready for it??The rat king is back and in his reputation era 💅 @Taylor Swift @Taylor Nation Rat King:@cy Rat: @Melvin Lawovi Come see the rat king LIVE at @Segerstrom Center for the Arts ♬ original sound – Jackie

Air Baltic

Leveraging Euphoria audio and coquette-tok to promote the airline – 4.7M Views

@airbaltic this is me if u even care 🎀 #coquette ♬ let the light in – ‍angelo

Paul Frank

Leveraging Mamma Mia / ABBA audio and nostalgia to revive the brand – 4.1M Views

@paulfrank_official it do be like that sometimes #montage #timeflies ♬ Chiquita ABBA – Sped up songs

#4 Are you ok with NOT being a trendsetter?

The goal for brands shouldn’t be to capitalize on existing trends, it should be to be the trendsetters. Setting the trends means producing original, creative content which is the opposite of what trendhopping is. The strategy always starts with staying laser-focused on the brand’s most unique selling point – its unicorn that either doesn’t exist in the market or isn’t provided by its direct competitors. It’s also key at this point to understand the market context: what people care about, what’s taking up their headspace, and what’s getting their attention. The magic happens when you find the sweet spot between the two.

Take for example, NinetyEight: a Gen Z Marketing Agency. They honed in on their USP of creating & working differently as a Gen Z company. They also discovered some of the real pain points Gen Zs were having with the corporate world through corporate-tok. The sweet spot between being a Gen Z-run company and the throes of big corporations allowed them to be trendsetters on TikTok. They’ve gone viral for shifting email culture, meeting culture, and honesty in the workplace. While trend content helps provide relatability and humor, their bread and butter lies in providing original, value-providing content.

The goal for brands shouldn’t be to capitalize on existing trends, it should be to be the trendsetters.

Trend wisely

As we all begin our 2024 journey, the “new year, new me” phase is tempting. We get it. But don’t be blind sided by the mistakes your brand can easily fall into if you jump into every trend blindly. Remember, we’re not here to tell you that jumping on trends leads to negative results because as we’ve all seen online, it can lead to incredible exposure and results. However, there’s a strategy behind trends and how to best include them in your social media efforts without leading to failure. We hope you take into consideration some of the necessary points made above, and we can’t wait to see your successes this year. 

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