Social networks can be rather fickle. What’s trending now will probably not be trending in another day or even hour’s time. It’s a phenomenon of the modern internet that is, for a social media marketer at least, both a bane and a boon.
On one level, you know that when a topic is trending – let’s say Wayne Rooney, for instance – all you need to do is stick the hashtag #waynerooney on the end of your tweet (or what have you), and you will be exposing your Twitter account to a very large audience. On the other hand, you know that the hashtag #waynerooney will more than likely fall off trend quicker than you can come up with a suitably witty quip that is both relevant to the hashtag and your business in 140 characters or less.
You will be right, also, to be wary of trying to jump on the back of anything and everything that happens to be trending at any given time. If you’re in the business of selling fruit and veg, say, then you’ll find it hard to justify a tweet or a Facebook post where you hashtag #waynerooney when you’re trying to promote the fresh batch of plums that have just arrived (or at least I hope so).
In fact, it’s highly advisable not to do this. Not only is this sort of hashtag piggy-backing very transparent, it is annoying for social network users, is considered a spam technique, and, if you get reported, you may find in time that you have your account suspended for frequent offences of this nature.
What’s Trendy Right Now?
Hashtags are very handy tools for marketers. With a strategic use of trending hashtags, you can improve your SEO, broaden your market reach, amplify your brand, enhance your discoverability, target your specific audience, and much more besides.
Hashtags have actually been around for quite a while now, having first come into use on Internet Relay Chats (IRCs), however it was on Twitter that they found their true calling. Back in the day, what we now tend to define as ‘trending discussions’ were known as ‘tweet chats’. These were basically open discussion forums on Twitter that surrounded a particular topic – and the topic was defined by the hashtag. To join the tweet chat, you simply used the particular hashtag in question somewhere in the tweet that you posted.
In essence, the tweet chat is still alive and kicking today, and it’s essentially how social media marketers use the hashtag for their ongoing social media campaigns. Hashtags are now in broad use across all social media – Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it. When a particular hashtag starts becoming extremely popular it becomes known as a ‘trending hashtag’.
Twitter and Google+ very handily provide you with a list of currently trending topics every time you log on to the homepage of the respective sites. As a general rule of thumb, what’s trending on Twitter will usually transfer to what’s trending on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (though not always – but it’s a good place to start). Google+ trends are found in the ‘What’s Hot’ section of the homepage, and they do tend to be a little more niche oriented and often different to what’s trending elsewhere on social media.
Some trends will literally come and go in a matter of minutes, never to return. Sometimes, though, they will last for several days or even weeks, depending on the topic. Think along the lines of #christmasshopping, for instance. Or, to keep things nice and current – what about #stpatricksday?
You can absolutely guarantee that on and around the 17th of March every year, St. Patrick’s Day and all things green and Irish will be trending somewhere online. Since you know that St. Paddy’s Day is going to happen well in advance, you can plan to take advantage of it, and join the trending hashtag #stpaddysday discussion right across all of your social media channels.
The benefit of knowing in advance what will be trending is that you can plan your posts so that they are not at all spammy, and related directly to both the hashtag and your business. So, I’m expecting all those wily fruit and veg shop owners out there to this week be tweeting something along the lines of:
Happy St P’s day everyone!! Get 2kilos for 1 on potatoes in store now! #stpatricksday
That would be a smart tweet because it uses the trending hashtag in a relevant and meaningful way to promote the owner’s business.
It’s All About Reach
Just think how many people are going to see that tweet! As a marketer, you can really jump on the back of trending hashtags and exploit them for all they’re worth. Potentially you can get your message seen by a very large audience. All sorts of users – not just your fans or followers – who are searching for current trends will be exposed to any of your posts that contain the relevant hashtag. And that’s invaluable when it comes to raising brand awareness online and increasing your following online.
Start Planning Now!!
So, make a list of any upcoming dates throughout the year that you can create relevant content for. Easter’s coming up soon, so what about #easter, #eastereggs, #goodfriday, or the #easterbunny? What sort of tweets can you come up with? Can you write a Tumblr or a blog for your website? What about a photo for Instagram, or special offer for Pinterest? Share with us in the comments below!
Start making a content calendar now so you’re ready for those trending hashtags when they appear.