How the Boy Band Wars Can Boost Your Social Media Engagement

How the Boy Band Wars Can Boost Your Social Media Engagement

Like it or not, pretty much every brand has its competitors. It’s a reality of being in business.

Coke has Pepsi.

McDonald’s has Burger King.

Nike has Adidas. 

The list goes on and on.

But the first time I declared my own brand loyalty was during the historic rivalry between the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC. An entire generation was forced to choose.


No matter where your allegiance lies, you may not know this boy band rivalry was man-made. 

A notorious businessman named Lou Pearlman got his start in the blimp business in the 1980s, but by the 1990s he started chartering airplanes in central Florida. That’s how he met New Kids on the Block. He had no idea who they were, so he was confused about how a bunch of young kids could afford a private airplane.

After he learned New Kids did $200 million in record sales and $800 million in touring and merchandising, he thought to himself, “I think I can do that. I think I can put a group like that together.”

And in 1993, he helped create the Backstreet Boys. As their manager, Lou paid for choreographers, vocal lessons, tutors — everything they could ever need to be successful.

 


And just as the Backstreet Boys were rising to fame, Lou realized there would eventually be competition. That was his light bulb moment – why not create it himself? That’s when he built *NSYNC behind Backstreet’s back… ALRIGHT! 

There’s an entire YouTube documentary produced by Lance Bass called Boy Band Con that goes into this in more detail. It turns out Lou Pearlman was a con artist and cheated both bands out of millions of dollars.

But anyway, I share this backstory to demonstrate the power people feel when given a choice. Declaring your side of the boy band wars was one of the main ways millennial girls around the world expressed themselves. The question of ‘Backstreet Boys or *NSYNC’ sparked impassioned debates at every slumber party. 

So what does this have to do with marketing? Well, let’s talk about this within the context of social media.


How to Get More Social Media Engagement


All brands want more social media engagement. So how do you get it? It starts with giving your audience easy ways to express themselves. Too often, we ask too much of them. We present them with obstacles instead of options. If your call to engagement is too complicated, your audience will scroll past.

Most of us are on social media to connect with friends and pass the time. This means your brand is already at a disadvantage. Your content seems out of place — showing up among all the personal things our friends and family are saying. You’re competing for attention, so your content has to be extra interesting. You can’t afford to be boring.

One way to foster more social media engagement is by implementing what we call ‘See and Choose’ content. This is content where your audience sees options in front of them. This gives them a simple opportunity to choose a way to engage.

This is done with tactics like:

– This or that
– Multiple choice
– Fill in the blank
– Would you rather
– Rank your favorites

The Benefits of ‘See and Choose’ Content

There are so many reasons to love ‘See and Choose’ content. Not only is it easy for your audience to engage with, but it’s also easy for you as the marketer or brand to create.

You don’t have to create fancy graphics or any assets. For polls or multiple-choice content, just write a question and a few options and you’re done. But don’t make your polls random and for the sake of creating polls. Always ensure they tie back to your brand’s overall strategy.

‘See and Choose’ content is also one of the fastest, cheapest, and most effective ways to learn about your audience. Instead of wondering what your audience thinks or wants, you can just ASK! And in real-time. Every post is an opportunity for insight.

Another reason to love ‘See and Choose’ content is because they have a low barrier to social media engagement. The call-to-action is baked in with clear options to select. This approach is way more effective than asking your audience a broad question because most of the time, we ask questions that are just too hard.

This isn’t my opinion — this is based on the science of System 1 and System 2.

System 1 and System 2 Thinking in Social Media

In his book, Thinking Fast & Slow, Daniel Kahneman explains how our brain and thinking process is broken down into two parts: System 1 and System 2.

When we employ System 1 thinking, decisions are easy and automatic. We decide based on intuition and instinct and are able to think quickly.

System 2, however, calls for more rational thinking vs. instinctive thinking. When we activate System 2, decisions are slow and take a lot of effort. They require more logic and analysis.

 

System 2 is often way too complicated for social media! Remember, your audience is there to socialize and pass time, not to take an exam. Questions that require too much processing or logic are better suited for a different medium.

With
‘See and Choose’ content, you activate System 1. You ask your audience a question, but you also give them the answers. It makes your content damn near irresistible — your audience will want to weigh in with their choice. 

So now you know to avoid System 2 at all costs, here’s another common mistake I see brands make on social media: asking rhetorical questions.

For example, let’s say you do social media for a restaurant that offers a weekly happy hour on Fridays. You might be tempted to post a picture with a caption that says
“Who’s ready for happy hour?!”

This is just boring. Your audience isn’t waiting for your post with bated breath just dying to drop what they’re doing to tell you they’re ready for happy hour. Instead, ask them something specific. Better yet, ask them a question that allows them to express themselves. 


Swap
“Who’s ready for happy hour” with “What is your go-to happy hour cocktail?”. Most people have a favorite drink of choice. This immediately gets your audience reflecting on their personal preferences, and better compels them to share. Then you get to engage with all the fun comments!

 

Social Media is a Skill

Remember, social media isn’t just a place to share information. It’s a place to start conversation. You can’t just expect engagement — you have to prompt it. And more audience participation starts with an invitation.

I like to think these takeaways I’ve shared with you today are further proof that although everyone can do social media, not everyone can do it well. It requires a deep understanding of your brand, your audience, and how people think.

It may be tempting to have a friend or family member handle your social media, but investing in a true social media professional with the proper training is one of the best things you can do to grow your business.

All the Small Things Content Creators Need to Remember

All the Small Things Content Creators Need to Remember

It’s no secret that my love of teenybopper boy bands is a big part of my personality. And while I was never the girl at the rock show, I still had love in my heart for Blink-182.

I was driving in my car the other day and “All the Small Things” by Blink-182 was playing. You may remember that Blink-182 was in their prime during the Y2K boy band era, and that this music video actually mocks the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, 98 Degrees, Britney Spears, and Christina Aguilera. 

 

It actually won an MTV Video Music Award in the year 2000, beating out Destiny’s Child, the Foo Fighters, *NSYNC, and Red Hot Chilli Peppers. 

But the song got me thinking about all the small things marketers and content creators have to worry about. It’s one of those fields where you really have to sweat the small stuff. (Work sucks, I know). 

 

all the small things screen grab 'Work sucks, I know'

 

But this is because the small details are the difference makers. They determine if that big piece of content you spent forever on actually gets seen.

 

You could have the best, more informative email, but it’s pointless if nobody opens it.
You could spend hours and hours making an incredible video, but what if nobody watches it?
Or you could write the most helpful blog post that never gets read. What a shame that would be, not only for you who spent time on it, but for the person who is now missing out on the value you could have provided. 

 

All the Small Things Content Creators Need to Optimize


Blog Posts

Blog posts are so powerful and can be huge traffic sources for your website!

As you write your blog posts, you first need a title that is compelling. If your title doesn’t interest the reader and inspire them to click, your blog post will never get read.

A good rule of thumb is to always incorporate what’s in it for your audience. How will this blog post help them? Does it solve a problem? Is it something they can relate to?

A common format is listicles, but even those need a bit more information to be successful.

For example, something like “5 Best Travel Destinations” is decent, but too broad. Narrow this post so it calls out something specific that make resonate with your audience. Something like “5 Honeymoon Destinations That Won’t Break the Bank” or “5 Unique Cities to Explore on Your Next Girls Trip”. These are specific enough that it allows someone in your audience to clearly identify with them.

Once you compel someone to click, you also have to compel them to stick around. Write a powerful first paragraph that confirms your content is worth reading.

Your blog posts also need to be rich with relevant keywords. Incorporate these in subheadings and throughout the post, but don’t overdo it. Create a customized URL that features the keyword, instead of something like blogpost-november.html. The keywords are the cues Google needs to serve your post to your audience.

The goal of a blog post is to build your audience, right? In that case, your blog should also feature opt-in forms, at least on the sidebar. You also can offer a lead magnet or content upgrade, such as a free download, to capture an email address. Put a sign-up form at the end of the post, or even as a pop-up! You might think pop-ups seem spammy, but they work well if you offer something your audience will actually want.

Want to keep people on your site longer? Recommend related posts or pages for them to check out. “If you liked this, you’ll also like this” kinda thing. This is called interlinking and helps your audience move through the site, nurturing them along the way. 

 

Long-Form Video

Content creators understand the importance of video! The first thing I’ll say about video is that your video’s audio quality is actually more important than video quality.

Your audience will still watch if your lighting isn’t perfect, if your room is messy, or if you’re wearing sweats. But if your audio is bad, it makes the video unwatchable.

To instantly elevate your videos, invest in a decent microphone. You can find some good ones on Amazon for less than $150. If you’re big into video, a great mic will be the gift that keeps on giving.

You’ll have the biggest chance of success with video if you don’t waste a second of your audience’s time. The worst is to click a video and the entire time your audience is thinking “get on with it already!”. Incorporate a strong hook, get straight to the point, and cut out the fluff. You can do this and still incorporate your personality through your expressions and overall delivery.

That’s all part of creating the video, but there are several housekeeping items you must complete to optimize it on YouTube. Like blog posts, your video also needs to have a detailed title and description that is rich with relevant keywords. Remember, YouTube is a search engine!

The most common, heartbreaking mistake I see on YouTube is when a video doesn’t have a custom thumbnail. Your thumbnail is an opportunity to attract a viewer. Rather than using a default thumbnail that’s just a still from the video, design something strategic. Make it informative and eye-catching, with bold fonts and a helpful or humanizing image. Uploading a video without customizing a thumbnail is a huge missed opportunity.

Also remember that if you share your videos outside of YouTube, such as on Twitter or Instagram, you should absolutely include captions. This makes your video accessible to the hearing impaired and is the considerate and inclusive thing to do. As content creators, this needs to be a priority.

The same goes for Instagram Stories. Keep in mind that many people watch Instagram Stories without sound. Use the captions sticker or add descriptive text overlays to make your story effective with or without sound.

 

Instagram

While on the subject of Instagram Stories, enhance your engagement by looking for more opportunities to include engagement stickers.

Can you add a questions sticker or relevant poll? In my book, the idea is to make social media a two-way conversation every chance you get! Also, don’t forget to include hashtags on your feed posts if you want to increase your reach, just make sure they aren’t too broad.

If you want more eyes on your Instagram content, you’ll need more followers, and much of that starts with having a bio that compels people to follow you. You’d think it would go without saying, but make sure you have a clear profile picture, whether it’s a photo of your brand’s logo.

Spend time writing a bio that with endear your audience and inform them of exactly what content they can expect. You want to make them feel like they’re in the right place when they land on your profile, and that your content will help them in some way.

Include a link to your website or a lead magnet that will interest your audience. The worst thing you can do is include a LinkTree link with 17 different options. This is overwhelming. You’re better off directing them to your website’s homepage where they have a clear navigation, or to a simplified LinkTree.

 

Email

Lastly, let’s cover email. If you think email is dead, you’re mistaken. It’s still one of the best ways to reach for content creators to reach their audience, and is where you can find your warmest audience. If someone has willingly subscribed to your email list, they are way more likely to convert than a passive social media follower.

Aside from writing emails that are packed with value, the main thing I want to remind you is not to overlook your subject line. The success of your email hinges on your subject line. If you rush it and write something that isn’t interesting, the recipient won’t even open the email.

A quick tip I’ve tried to write subject lines is to include the word ‘you’ or ‘your’. It forces you to speak directly to the subscriber, which likely means you’re communicating what’s it in for them. The subject line becomes audience-focused vs. brand-focused, which will increase the chances of your email being opened.

 

Small Changes, Big Differences

What are some of the other small things content creators should keep in mind to help content perform better? It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of creating, but don’t overlook these little details. They truly can make or break your content. 

User-Generated Content isn’t Always Great Content: How to Use It Wisely

User-Generated Content isn’t Always Great Content: How to Use It Wisely

I was going down a YouTube rabbit hole the other day and I ended up watching an old episode of TRL from the year 2000. Melissa Joan Hart and Britney Spears were hosting in Carson Daly’s absence. Besides the fact that Mambo #5 was on the countdown, I was reminded of something even more interesting.

Melissa Joan Hart starts talking about a contest TRL is running where audience members can submit original artwork to potentially be featured on TRL merchandise. She and Britney introduce the artists and share the designs on screen — all of which were hand-drawn sketches.

But what I found most remarkable was how Melissa and Britney called the audience to action. If others were interested in submitting their artwork to the contest, they couldn’t upload it to social media. They had to FAX it in. I couldn’t help but smile when TRL’s fax line popped on the screen: (212) 258-8719.

You can watch around the 3-minute mark here:

 

Think about how limiting this was. I imagine there were thousands of people who would’ve wanted to enter their designs, but the barriers to entry were high. They couldn’t fire their work off in an email, submit a form, or upload to social media. They had to have access to a fax machine. 

I wonder if marketing and social media managers know how lucky we are today. On a daily basis, our audience gifts us a bank of content we can share from our brand channels, with their permission of course. And on the other side of that, your audience has more opportunities to express themselves and share content that is meaningful to them. 

The opportunities for user-generated content are endless. We can receive unlimited content, all in an instant. But just because you could use UGC, doesn’t always mean you should. Let’s discuss some considerations when managing and sharing user-generated content. 

How to Make the Most of User-Generated Content

I’ll start with the hardest, yet most important tip. Screen your UGC! While we love content that is authentic, you should still have a level of standards before reposting a piece of content. Some UGC is good, but not good enough. Look for basic quality guidelines like image clarity, lighting, audio quality, etc. 

Ask yourself if you’re sharing this piece of content because it’s helpful, informative, or entertaining to your larger audience, or if you’re only sharing it simply to spotlight the original user. 

You can still express gratitude and show appreciation for the user without reposting their content. A simple DM, comment, or like on the post is often enough to make the user feel special. You’re not leaving them out, and they’re just as likely to keep posting just for being acknowledged. 

Also, remember there are certain etiquette rules when it comes to user-generated content. First of all, always ask permission before resharing it. Just because a user shared it on their own channels, doesn’t necessarily mean they’d like it broadcast to your entire audience. Plus, reaching out to thank them for the content and ask permission only strengthens the relationship. It’s much better than just taking their content without initiating a conversation. 

Okay, so now you’ve determined the UGC is high enough quality and you have permission to share. But your job goes beyond simply retweeting or reposting. In order for your UGC to have the most impact, you have to give it meaningful context.

This is where most UGC, including testimonials, falls flat. Unless the content does a great job storytelling all on its own, you will likely have to provide those additional details. 

For instance, let’s say you’re a realtor who is tagged in a photo your clients posted standing in front of their new house you helped sell. Rather than just reposting it, tell us more about the couple and how you met their needs. Give your audience something they can potentially relate to as well. Is this a young couple who is expecting their first child and needed more space? What were they looking for in a home and where did they find it? How desperately were they searching before you were able to help?

This added background helps your larger audience see themselves in the content, too, and realize that you have the solution they may need. “If it worked for them, it will work for us.”

Lastly, remember that attention is scarce. If you reshare every single piece of UGC without context or adding value, you will slowly chip away at your audience’s attention, and they may tune you out for good. 

For example, if you run a fitness studio and you often get tagged in your customers’ post-workout mirror selfies, resharing several of these back-to-back, day-after-day is BORING. There are only so many Boomerangs we can take! 

We’ve all seen those brands with endless Instagram Stories that don’t hold our attention. And don’t even get me started on those people who tag a friend in a post, then that friend reshares the tag, and then the original tagger reshares the tag! You’re just spamming your audience at that point.

 

Don’t just reshare so you have a steady stream of content. Reposting all of your UGC can be tempting, and it surely makes our jobs easier, but it can do more harm than good. 

You know how it goes… always make sure your content adds value. It has to be worthwhile. 

 

READ MORE: The Fool-Proof Content Marketing Formula

READ MORE: TRL and the Magic Formula for Raving Fans

The Streisand Effect: A Must-Know for Every Marketer or PR Pro

The Streisand Effect: A Must-Know for Every Marketer or PR Pro

You don’t have to be a Barbra Streisand fan or have grown up in her era of music to know just how respected she is. She is known as one of the greatest voices of all time. But beyond her voice and music legacy, we can thank Barbra Streisand for helping create a social phenomenon called ‘The Streisand Effect’. And it’s absolutely something every marketer should know about.

What is The Streisand Effect?

Let’s rewind back to 2003. 

Long before drones were created, a company called California Coastal Records Project captured an aerial photograph of Barbra Streisand’s sprawling beachfront mansion on the coast of Malibu. Although many photographers in California are known for invading the privacy of celebrities, this case was likely inadvertent. The photo was taken in an effort to create awareness about coastal erosion — not necessarily to reveal Barbra Streisand’s residence. That may have been a coincidence. 

The photographer, Kenneth Adelman, published the photos on his website. Barbra Streisand then filed a $50 million lawsuit against him, calling for him to “remove an aerial photograph of Streisand’s mansion from the publicly available collection of 12,000 California coastline photographs.” 

Aerial shot of Barbra Streisand's mansion off the coast of Malibu, CA

By Kenneth Adelman

 

At the time she filed the lawsuit, the image had only been downloaded from Adelman’s website six times; two of which were downloads by Streisand’s attorneys. As a result of the case, paired with Barbra Streisand’s celebrity status, public interest in the photograph grew immensely. By the end of the month, 420,000 people visited the site. Boy, did that backfire! 

‘The Streisand Effect’ occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of further publicizing that information, usually via the Internet.

It reminds me of the episode of Friends when Ross and Rachel get a new ‘hot nanny’. Ross forbids Joey from pursuing her, which only makes him want her more. 

Spoiler alert: we later learned she’s a lesbian. Crisis averted! 

The Streisand Effect in News & Pop Culture

We’ve seen examples of The Streisand Effect in play with several headlines over the years. It often comes up when celebrities try to have unflattering photos of themselves removed from the Internet. Both Beyoncé and Khloe Kardashian have tried this. I didn’t think Beyoncé could take an unflattering photo, but her 2013 Super Bowl Halftime Show performance sparked the ‘hulking’ meme. RUDE!

Beyonce meme showing her lifting weights with an unflattering expression

Other examples have come up more recently amid racial justice reform. ‘Gone With the Wind’ was temporarily removed from streaming platforms, which ignited more interest. When six Dr. Seuss books would no longer be published, it created a frenzy. The attempts to suppress only drew more attention. 

 

The Takeaway for Marketers and PR Professionals

Why is this important for marketers or publicities? Because despite your intentions, your messaging may do more harm than good. 

I’m currently reading The Catalyst: How to Change Anyone’s Mind by Jonah Berger. He dedicates a chapter to talking about the Tide Pod Challenge from 2017. You may remember the viral meme that encouraged teenagers to ingest laundry detergent. Obviously, not a good idea.

Tide tried to do the right thing early on. When they first got wind of the challenge, they released statements and messaging warning their audience that the pods were only to be used to wash clothing. They even tapped Super Bowl champion, Rob Gronkowski, for a commercial about it. 

I’ve partnered with @Tide to make sure you know, Tide PODs are for doing laundry. Nothing else! https://t.co/Oo7n7ZZpbG

— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) January 13, 2018

 

But, you guessed it… the campaign only drew more attention to the Tide Pod Challenge, inspiring more teens to try it. Boom, ‘The Streisand Effect’.

This makes me wonder if public service announcements always have a reverse effect. Jonah Berger’s book indicates that pushing your audience and telling them what not to do, only makes them feel like their freedom, control, or choices are being limited. He says that if you really want to change someone’s mind, find more ways to remove barriers and help them come to a decision themselves.

They say some things are better left unsaid, which may also be true in marketing. We often think that over-communicating is what will get the message across, but it may inspire people to do the one thing you’re telling them not to.

In Tide’s case, I’m sure there were legal implications to their warning campaigns. But for Barbra Streisand, she probably should have let that photograph go. She unintentionally drew more attention to something she wanted hidden, and now we’ve named a phenomenon after her. 

The good news is, she’s safe and living the life just fine in Malibu. But I’ve gotta tell you, if I had a mansion like that, I’m not sure I’d want it hidden. It’s spectacular!’

 

This Simple Content Idea Works Every Time

This Simple Content Idea Works Every Time

Content creation usually requires a lot of trial and error, but for a content idea that ALWAYS works, I looked to some of my favorite movie scenes for inspiration.

Like in Miss Congeniality when the frumpy FBI agent Grace Hart becomes a stunning pageant queen.


Or in Clueless, when Tai Frasier gets a makeover and goes from stoner to stunner.


Or the iconic scene in She’s All That, when the class geek Laney Boggs makes an entrance down the stairs, stunning Freddie Prinze Jr. with her beauty.

 

If you haven’t guessed it by now, the surefire content idea I’m referring to is transformations. Transformations hit the mark every time you publish one, and they work for any medium. Here’s why:

Transformational content is versatile.

It’s not only people that undergo transformations. So can places, companies, and things. Any brand has the potential to share them.

We see this often on social media any time we see a person’s physical, mental, or behavioral traits transform. But an inspiring before-and-after can also apply to products, DIY projects, home renovations, or workplace culture.

 

Transformations are authentic.

But only if you communicate them correctly… Don’t skip right to the good part. 

Even a good testimonial can be a bad testimonial. For a transformation to be the most effective, you have to show the full story. Paint a picture of the bad, the ugly, and then the good. This gives the transformation more meaning and impact.

If you have a satisfied customer, don’t just share a happy-go-lucky quote. Help your audience understand their original problem and pain points so the transformation has a stronger story arc.

 

Transformations are compelling.

They give the reader something to look forward to, and there’s always a clear beginning, middle, and end. It’s likely your audience can relate to the before stage of the transformation themselves, and they’ll be interested to see how the story ends. Transformations are the perfect way to promote the idea that “if it worked for them, it will work for me.” 

Every great story has a strong hook, so be sure to frame your content with an interesting detail that will grab their attention. 

 

Transformations promote conversation.

If your audience sees the way things were before compared to how they are now, there’s a built-in wow factor. 

They’ll feel inspired to remark on the story or ask questions of their own. And since transformations typically emphasize improvements, your followers will want to applaud, congratulate, and engage.

 

Transformations illustrate credibility.

No matter what your expertise is, transformations show your impact. This can apply to products you sell or services you perform. Maybe you’re an artist who makes jewelry to upgrade someone’s look, or you’re a landscaper who gives homes some much-needed curb appeal. 

With transformations, you don’t have to explain why you’re an expert. They prove it on their own. This will make people trust you and want to work with you. 

 

Transformations build relationships.

A transformation is often highly personal. It’s admitting to the world that you needed to make a change. Your transparency and willingness to share the full journey with your audience not only make them feel closer to you, but it makes them want to root for you.

Because of this, vulnerability is key with transformations. Your content will be much more interesting if you share your imperfect experience. 

 


Transformations create an emotional connection.

Have you ever sat through an episode of Queer Eye and found yourself crying at the end? When you bring your audience along for a transformation, they experience the emotional roller coaster, too. They are an ideal opportunity to relate to your audience and inspire them to take action or get involved.

 

Transform Your Brand’s Content

Audit your content to see if you’re sharing enough transformations. This content idea works well as a blog post, short or long-form video, Twitter thread, or even before and after photographs. You also can get really creative with transformation transitions on TikTok! With every transformation you share, you’ll build trust and bring yourself closer to your audience.

 

Brands: How to Jump in on Trending Topics without Getting Canceled

Brands: How to Jump in on Trending Topics without Getting Canceled

If you knew all of your potential customers were going to a party, wouldn’t you try to make an appearance? Real-time trending topics are like parties on social media. It’s where your audience hangs out, and where your brand should, too. From the latest news in music, TV, sports, or movies, chiming in on pop culture trends demonstrates your brand’s personality. They are your chance to become the life of the party! 

The tricky part is that these content opportunities are unexpected. Despite our best efforts to plan a content calendar and get ahead, we can’t predict what becomes popular. That’s why content creation requires us to be agile, well-informed, and quick-witted. 

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to insert your brand into trending topics. Here are some considerations to help you avoid a social media party foul. 

 

Know your audience. 

We spend a lot of time understanding our audience’s demographics like age, location, or income level, but the magic happens when you know their interests. Research what your target customer likes to watch, listen to, or read. 

The beauty brand, Tarte Cosmetics, connects with their followers by live tweeting during The Bachelor. 

 

Listen.

Create a routine that helps you catch up on the latest trends, current events, or headlines. This can be as simple as listening to a morning radio show while sipping your morning coffee, subscribing to a daily newsletter, or browsing trending hashtags on Twitter. Google Trends is also a helpful tool for monitoring popular search queries. 

When the ESPN documentary #TheLastDance became a national trending topic, DiGiorno knew their followers would get kick out of this live tweet. 

 

Do your research.

Sometimes, a topic may be trending for complicated reasons, or to highlight a sensitive subject. Before you jump into the conversation, make sure you understand its sentiment and context. You don’t want to associate the brand with a subject that can hurt your reputation. 

In light of Britney Spears conservatorship battle, the hashtag #FreeBritney has been trending in recent months. The Framing Britney Spears documentary also brought it to life and started conversations about mental health, misogyny, and abuse. Frontier Airlines saw this as an opportunity to develop a self-serving and tone-deaf promotion.

 

Frontier Airlines developed a tone-deaf promotion where anyone named Britney flies free

 

Use your judgment.

Unfortunately, marketing decisions aren’t always black and white. Don’t contribute to a pop culture topic if it feels forced. Also, if there’s a chance your content can seem offensive, insulting, or insensitive, sit this one out. 

Burger King should have thought twice before inciting the wrath of Taylor Swift fans with this tweet. Many accused the brand of being sexist. They responded with a promo offer to “shake it off”. 

 

Burger King tweeting a sexist comment about Taylor Swift

 

Have a team in place.

When the perfect opportunity arises, speed and efficiency matter. You don’t want to be late to the party. Be proactive by assembling a team and assigning roles in design, copywriting, and community management. 

Joe Biden’s campaign team could never have predicted a fly would land on Vice President Pence’s head during the vice presidential debate. The team quickly swooped in and saw this viral moment as a unique fundraising opportunity. They shared this tweet with the perfect photo and a link to donate. 

 

Think bigger.

Without a doubt, great content can make a splash. Your post may garner thousands of likes, comments, or retweets, but ask yourself if you can do something more. Pop culture doesn’t only happen within the walls of social media. Can do you something bolder by stepping offline? 

A perfect example is when Nathan Apodaca went viral on TikTok for his skateboarding video, featuring Ocean Spray and Fleetwood Mac’s song, “Dreams”. The brand surprised (and delighted!) him with a brand new truck in cranberry red. That’s a way more powerful response than a tweet.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Ocean Spray (@oceansprayinc)

 

Although participating in pop culture and trending topics can help you build a bond with your audience, it can also induce pressure to be “always on.” This is your reminder that sometimes the timing won’t be right. Evaluate each opportunity to see if it’s worth shifting your priorities. Trends come and go, and it’s okay to pass. Join the party only when it makes sense.