With almost five billion social media users and millions of businesses leveraging reigning social media platforms to reach them, it is no surprise that there is a social media trends frenzy each year.
What is a Trend?
WordWeb Dictionary defines the word trend in noun and verb forms. As a noun, trend refers to a popular taste at a given time, a general direction in which something tends to move, or a general tendency to change. As a verb, to trend can mean to turn sharply, change direction abruptly, to be temporarily popular, or to become popular on social media, news or other internet sites.
The common factors in these definitions are time, change, and direction, and this article will focus on the dos and don’ts of social media trends for brands who want to leverage creative trends to get in front of their audiences. Social media trends are meant to be interesting and relatable to your audience while retaining your brand values and core message.
Four Rules Brands Should Consider Before Jumping on Social Media Trends
1. Never Stay Off Brand Course
Regardless of what social media trend you are jumping on, always stay on brand. Yes, you should be creative around the trend in play by adjusting your brand tone, but stay consistent with your brand voice. That way, you retain your audience after the trend passes.
2. Movements are not Trends
It is easy to mistake social movements for trends because of the buzz around them. However, critical messages and actions underline movements, and you need to be careful when associating your brand with them. Whether you want to show solidarity for a movement or condemn it, extreme caution is necessary.
In fact, most movements are usually started to condemn social injustices. For example, Black Lives Matter and End SARS are crucial movements that raised awareness about social and cultural issues. Other movements, such as the Brave the Shave and No Shave challenges, are not trends but movements meant to create awareness. For example, the former raises awareness and support for cancer patients/survivors, while the former creates awareness about body image/positivity.
3. Never Jump on the Wrong Social Media Trends or Conversations
Another mistake some brands make is hopping on every hot trend to gain visibility. While social media trends are now easier to modify to fit your brand message than before, you still need to avoid trends that are time bombs to your brand. For instance, you have no business hopping on a trend like the Eii Brother Bernard, originating from a grieving person jumping on her reverend father’s casket.
While the trend is funny and has been interpreted in interesting ways that hardly relate to the meme’s background, it is insensitive to hop on it as a brand. Well, except you’re a comedy brand whose business is literally built on jokes and the idea of ‘any publicity is good publicity’.
4. Understand the Social Media Trends You’re Hopping on
This rule is a culmination of the other rules and one of the first things to note before joining trends as a brand. Ask yourself or your team – why do we want to join the Flip the Switch challenge? Do we want to look like a cool brand, or does this trend genuinely fit our goal of making our brand visible and relatable to our audience? What is the origin of the trend? And will there be any backlash from hopping on the challenge?
If you can answer these questions logically and factually, you’ll know which trends to join or discard.
Popular Social Media Trends to Improve Your Brand
Now that we’ve gotten the serious part of this topic out of the way and you have four golden rules for jumping on social media trends, check out examples of popular social media trends that can serve your brand.
1. Song/Sound Challenges:
News songs are released daily by established and rising music stars, and there’s no shortage of trending songs to jump on. We’ve had songs like Bloody Samaritan by Arya Starr become a global trend, and prestigious brands such as the United Bank of Africa (UBA) jump on it. A recent one is Cough (Odo) song by Kizz Daniel which trended in late 2022, and the same UBA posted its chairman, Tony Elumelu, doing the trending song dance.
Other recent trending songs/sounds you can jump on include:
- Unavailable and Feel by Davido
- Who’s Your Guy by Spyro
- Amapiano sounds
- RTID by Kizz Daniel
- Organise by Asake
- Flowers by Miles Cyrus
- Sability by Ayra Starr
The list is endless.
2. Trending Challenges
One thing trending social media challenges, such as ‘Don’t Leave Me’, ‘Little Miss’, and ‘Put Down a Finger’, do is to make your brand look less rigid and more approachable, especially if your business doesn’t fall under the entertainment sector.
Relevant, fun and acceptable challenges that can serve your brand include:
- The Alphabet Challenge
This involves starting a conversation with the first letter of the alphabet, and the rest of the players continue the conversation with the other alphabet letters. You can use this trend to explain your brand or show your work process.
- Flipping the Bottle Challenge
As the name suggests, you win when you flip a water bottle on its bottom. The new twist to this challenge is that each winner gets to partake in a plate of food and drinks before the next winner takes over. You can use this fun game as a team bonding exercise and portray your brand as approachable.
The transition trend is here to stay. Use as many trending sounds as possible to show your transition from one work process to the next, especially for your ‘before and after’ posts.
Again, the list is endless, and we have provided further help for identifying social media trends below.
Other Things to Note About Social Media Trends
- To stay updated about the numerous trends cropping up daily, TikTok and TokChart are your go-to places (and maybe Instagram to see what’s trending through hashtags. e.g. #dancechallenge).
- To know more about the trends and what people are saying about them, Twitter got you.
- To know whether a particular trend is widespread amongst the Baby Boomers and Millennials, head to Facebook. If your customers fall into this age group, this is important.
- Check out YouTube for video compilations if you need various angles on social media trends.
Remember, not all trends are worth jumping on as an individual, much less as a brand. Likewise, movements aren’t mere trends. And it would help if you researched trends properly to understand them before applying them to your business from a fun yet brand-sensitive angle.