One question we often get from brands is whether they should be jumping on the latest meme or social media trend to be relevant on social media. Most marketers know that this can be a risky business, and they often find themselves in a position where they have to explain to their colleagues the fine line between what can make your brand cool, and what can make it lame.
Our answer often is that it depends on whether you have a solid strategy behind why you’re getting involved, and if you’ve ideally already been treading in those waters. If you really know your audience, get the timing right, and it fits with your brand content and tone of voice, you have a much better chance of hitting the right chord.
If you want to harness timely content to stay relevant on social media, there are three things to consider:
- What does your audience want? Understanding your audience starts with listening. Social listening tools and insights will help you define their interests, passions and values. Once you have real in-depth knowledge of how they tick, you’ll understand what’s relevant to them.
- How will your brand enhance their experience? Think about your brand’s values and your audience’s values. What conversations hit the sweet spot between the two? Whatever you say has to be authentic – it has to fit with how you behave as a brand – in order to be credible. Ask if your brand has the cultural capital to get involved in the conversation and what value it will add to the dialogue or the cultural moment.
- What can you offer that your competitors can’t? Are your competitors getting involved in the conversation, and how are people reacting to them? Think about what you can offer that’s different or better.
Now, let’s look at some of the options for staying relevant.
There are some great examples of brands getting creative with memes to keep themselves relevant on social media, showing their human side and connecting with fans. It can make you seem relatable, and that you understand what makes your community tick.
But it’s easy to spot a brand jumping on a bandwagon. If you get involved too late, or you don’t really get what the meme is about, or you haven’t earned the right to be involved, you could fall flat on your face.
Spend some time understanding its origins, why and how it’s being shared. It’s easy for the meaning of a meme to get somewhat warped along the way, so sites like knowyourmeme.com can be helpful (either that or suffer the “how do you do, fellow kids?” GIFs you’ll get in response to a mis-fire!)
It’s also important to check copyright issues. Are you allowed to use the meme?
If you want inspiration, here are some great examples of brands getting involved.
Twitter’s post plays to the loyalty some people feel towards their favourite social media platform:
Samsung took a cheeky shot across the bows at its main competitor without mentioning its name (playing to the often intense Android versus Apple debate:
The Sims team knows that one of the main things its players hear is that they’re not real gamers, so this was a great way to show that they’re aware of a common community experience.
Finally, Netflix UK & Ireland (which is always on top of the data and seems to know what its audience is excited about) leapt on the meme to refer to the massively popular Squid Game:
Brands have been replying to each other’s tweets for years now. When it’s done well, it can be entertaining; done badly, it’s cringey.
A simple, recent, and utterly efficient example of branter (getting well over 200k total engagements – as well as more than 100 brands responding) was kick-started by Weetabix before so. many. brands. jumped in:
Some of the best brand responses used a mixture of relatable and on-brand humor to respond to the (frankly disturbing) serving suggestion:
Great branter shows the community that you understand and feel comfortable talking in their language. Having two completely different brands chatting can also spark creativity and add a bit of unexpected humor to people’s day.
By keeping branter grounded in the brand’s area of expertise (or at least relatable humor), brands can keep things light and entertaining.