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Social Media Tends: What we can learn from Tim Tebow and/or Smirnoff Ice

July 06, 2016

I’m not here to discuss live streaming, social commerce, or any of that technical mumbo jumbo. Instead, let’s take the social media trend conversation back to a simpler time. Let’s go back to the soul of social…to a time when Tim Tebow was relevant, planking had nothing to do with fitness, and Smirnoff “ice-ing” someone was the pinnacle of a night out.

That’s right, we’re talking about “those” trends. Because things like dabbing, planking, Tebowing, The Harlem Shake, and The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge may seem like a flash in the pan, but each has had a small footprint on our culture. And while I’m not here to argue that “Smirnoff ice-ing” someone is anything more than pure fun, I do think that social media trends collectively have some significance — enough so that it’s worth brands considering joining the fun.

Want proof of the power of trends? Look no further than Psy snagging a SuperBowl commercial, countless celebrities dumping ice buckets on their heads, or Jimmy Fallon paying homage to Tim Tebow on national television.

These trends are also kind of like the punk or hippie movement of social media marketing. They reflect the age old tale: “Kids start something. Brands follow.” So I mean, let’s embrace that. We live in a world with changing algorithms, boosted posts, and countless blogs about how to use social media marketing. And while we were all tirelessly trying to be the best at social media, some kid in a dorm room decided that Gangam style was cool, so that took off instead of your painstakingly crafted campaign. Just laugh at the madness, and go with it.

To be successful, though, timing is everything. Social media trends work at a different pace. They are lightning in a bottle one day, and fizzle out the next…and there is a fine line between being the cool mom and just plain wearing mom jeans. So how do you know when to lead and when to get out of the way?

There’s no algorithm for it. It’s just using human intuition — because ultimately… brands are people, too. If you just heard about a trend, vet it with your team. Decide if it’s still cool, and then jump in with both feet and a super tight turnaround. If you’ve missed the boat, don’t try to squeeze your brand in at the end of the craze — there will always be another trend. A perfect depiction of this evolution is Hillary Clinton tweeting to Donald Trump, “Delete your account.” Awesome use of trending terminology at the time, but please don’t use the phrase now — it’s only been a couple weeks and it’s already being sold on Etsy as a cross stitch. I repeat…it’s now a cross stitch. It’s time to move on.

Stay conscious of these trends and you’ll have quick-win ways to endear yourself to your audience. You may not change the world…but you can have some fun, and mean a little something to your followers in the process.

That’s all for now…gotta go take a face swap.

To follow SRW’s nostalgia for old social media trends, click here.