Explore and Make the Most of the Art of Trendjacking

If you’re on the internet a lot, which is highly likely during this COVID-19 crisis, you’ve probably noticed how some brands take advantage of current trends to boost presence online. Some brands have been fortunate with this strategy and are able to generate interest in their products and services, subsequently strengthening footprint and sales. Other brands have not been so lucky and reaped negative results.

Remember when the game Pokémon GO was a huge craze a few years back and some telecom companies offered users free access to the game for a limited time? Or how one ride-hailing app hopped on the #10YearChallenge last year by tweeting a hilarious side-by-side comparison of EDSA showing how the main thoroughfare looked exactly the same?

This is trendjacking.

Trendjacking is a portmanteau of the words trend and hijack. The word essentially means “to ride on an existing trend.”

Telecom companies that offered fans free access to Pokémon GO gained loyal customers who saw how the network providers responded to their needs. Meanwhile, joining the #10YearChallenge hype reinforced the ride-hailing app’s market identity and enabled it to highlight the practicality and convenience it offers as an alternative mode of transportation.

The practice of trendjacking isn’t new. Brands have been undertaking newsjacking efforts to capitalize on the popularity of a breaking news story. What makes the two practices different from one another is the source or basis. As their names suggest, trends for trendjacking and news for newsjacking. These days, most trends can be observed in real-time through hashtags or trending topics, which is why most trendjacking efforts are done online.

Like any form of content marketing, there are some considerations to keep in mind when engaging in trendjacking.

What trendjacking should be:

  • Timely
Photo by Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Trends come and go, some as fast as a blink of an eye. When it comes to trendjacking, you have to be quick. You have to watch for the wave and ride it when it comes, not when it has already crashed on the shore. Take your sweet time reacting to trends and risk being late and you might fail to leverage that moment of connection with your audiences and they might not understand your message anymore.

It’s important that content creators are up-to-date with the latest trends online. You don’t want to use an old meme and end up embarrassing your brand. What was popular last week might not be as interesting a week after, so make sure to grab the opportunity at the right time.

  • Easy to understand
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What’s so great about trendjacking is that you’re building your content around an idea that your audiences have probably already heard of. It’s like you have had a head start such that when you release your article, the chances are high your audience will understand on the get-go what you want to say.

But what if they’re not familiar with the trend? Trends are not always as simple as they seem to be. Some of them come with political undertones or context that sometimes has to be explained to the average person. In these cases, content creators then must serve as the bridge between these trends and their brand’s target audiences.

  • Relevant to your brand
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You don’t want to ride a trend just because it’s there. While you can twist your message to relate it to the current trend, the outcome might not be as impactful.

When trendjacking, remember to choose trends that suit your brand. Your brand has its own distinct persona and you wouldn’t want to capitalize on a trend that would ruin the image you’ve worked so hard to create.

What trendjacking shouldn’t be:

  • Opportunistic
Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

Remember when a local fast-food chain popular for its fried chicken ran out of chicken and a rival brand released a hashtag meant to attract fans of the former brand to switch to the other? As much as it was clever, netizens were not happy with how the other brand took advantage of the situation.

You don’t want to come off as insensitive by using one brand’s misfortune or problem in order to bring your product or service to the spotlight. It’s only going to generate hostility toward your brand.

  • Discriminatory
Photo by Steve Johnson on Unsplash

This should go without saying. The goal when trendjacking is to get the support of your target market. Using discriminatory copy or images is a surefire way to get on their bad side. Be sensitive to the different social groups, especially the minority.

While it’s good to know who your target audience is, this does not mean you can step on those out of your radar. Keep your messaging ethical and inclusive.

  • A cause for misunderstandings
Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Some trendjacking efforts elicit clear responses. There are those, however, that make audiences go, “Huh? What exactly do they want to say?”

Trendjacking is meant to make your brand’s message clearer. By relating your brand to a current trend, your audiences connect two and two and come up with a more informed understanding of what you want to say. If your trendjacking efforts fail to do this, you might want to reevaluate how you tied the trend and the message of your brand together.

Riding on a trend shows that your brand is present in the market and constantly on the lookout for ways to connect to its target audiences. Make your efforts as effective as possible by remaining in a positive light as you uplift your brand. Do it right and you’ll get people supporting your brand with a loyalty unlike anything you’ve seen before.

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