If you’re going to take part in a trend, it’s vital that you understand it.
Where newsjacking and trendjacking are concerned, the key to success is relevancy. Of course, you want to post before the trend dies out, or you’ll just embarrass yourself — but, if you post too quickly, your risk sacrificing quality for speed. Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout is a perfect example of quick-response newsjacking done right.
If you’re going to take part in a trend, it’s vital that you understand it. There are several subreddits devoted to misused memes, and you don’t want your post to end up there.
Brands that start their own trend also need to be careful. Last month, Transport for London started the #HomeSafeSelfie campaign, encouraging women to post selfies when they returned home from nights out. The idea was to raise awareness of the dangers of unlicensed taxis, but it only seems to have raised awareness of the thoughtlessness of their marketing team.
While you can understand where they’re coming from —#NoMakeupSelfie was popular, the #WakeUpCall selfie was popular, and drunk girls love taking pictures — this was a really, really bad idea. Transport for London is being widely criticized for victim blaming and implying that not getting raped or murdered is something to celebrate with an Instagram post. This problematic thought aside, if you’re getting home drunk at 4am, you should probably stay away from social media. Your boss doesn’t need to know what you look like trashed.
Transport for London’s campaign is a disaster because it focuses on the trend, rather than the message. To the marketing team, it probably seemed like it could be the next big selfie craze to hit social media, raising brand and cause awareness. Instead, it’s embarrassed the brand and offended a lot of people. While the sentiment is right, the message is wrong.
Chili’s attempt to exploit the popularity of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge is another example of trendjacking that lacks substance. Instead of pouring ice water on members of staff or thinking up a really creative alternative, they just poured water on a pepper. It doesn't make you feel anything. It's not funny. It's just...a pepper. And now it's wet.
Have any tips or golden rules for trendjacking or newsjacking? Share them in the comments!