Trendjacking or Hopping on Trends: Good or Bad in the Long Run?

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Every day you scour the web looking for new ideas on campaigns. It’s always a good idea to keep up with what everyone else is doing if only so you know what ideas are out there. You wouldn’t want to inadvertently copy another company’s idea, after all. 

New trend? KeyboardWith all this scouring, though, you notice a hot new trend, one that’s blowing up the Internet. It’s still early enough in the trend that you could potentially hop on the hype train and not look like you’re trying too hard. Even better, it would fit right into the campaign you’re currently running.

What is a Trend?

A trend refers to a general direction in which something is developing or changing. In various contexts, the term can have specific meanings:

Society/Culture: Cultural and societal trends might refer to shifts in behavior, beliefs, values, or norms in a given society. For instance, the growing awareness and action around sustainability and environmental consciousness has become a trend in many parts of the world.

Arm Pump

Social Media and Popular Culture: Trends can be topics, hashtags, challenges, or behaviors that gain popularity rapidly on platforms like TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, etc. They can be fleeting, lasting only a short time, or they might have a more prolonged impact on popular culture.

Fashion: In fashion, a trend might refer to the popularity of certain styles, materials, colors, or designs that become widely adopted over a specific period before potentially being replaced by a new trend.

Technology: Trends in technology might refer to the emergence and growth of new technologies, tools, applications, or methods. For example, the rise of social media was initially a trend that has moved past being a trend, become a long-term aspect of life.

Recognizing and understanding trends can be valuable for businesses, policymakers, and individuals alike, as it allows for anticipation of future changes and enables proactive planning or decision-making.
There are some who have made huge amounts of money starting and hopping on trends. But each trend must be evaluated to determine if it is a long term solution. Can a trend be viable enough to last you through your entire campaign or will it feel dated after a brief time?

Many people use a concept called trendjacking as a core part of their business strategy.

What is Trendjacking / Newsjacking?

Trendjacking, also known as newsjacking, refers to the practice of capitalizing on a popular trend, news event, or cultural moment to promote one’s own brand, product, or message. The goal of trendjacking is to ride the wave of the trending topic’s popularity, thereby gaining attention and potentially increasing engagement or sales. When done right, trendjacking can make content more relevant and relatable, leading to wider reach and more impactful branding.

However, there are some things to consider when using trendjacking:

  • Relevance: It’s crucial that the trend or news event is relevant to the brand or product. Forcing a connection can come off as inauthentic or insincere.
  • Timing: Trendjacking requires quick action. A brand needs to hop onto the trend while it’s still relevant. Waiting too long can make the content feel outdated or out of touch.
  • Sensitivity: It’s essential to be aware of the context and sentiment surrounding the trend. Hijacking serious or sensitive topics for promotional purposes can lead to backlash and damage a brand’s reputation.
  • Authenticity: As with any form of marketing or communication, authenticity matters. The content should be genuine and not just a forced attempt to gain attention.
  • Legal Considerations: Brands should be cautious not to infringe on copyrights, trademarks, or other intellectual property rights when trendjacking.

In the age of social media, where trends can change rapidly and virality can be fleeting, trendjacking has become a popular tactic for brands aiming to stay relevant and top-of-mind for consumers. However, it’s essential to approach it with caution, strategy, and authenticity.

Things To Be Aware Of When Trendjacking or Hopping on Trends

Most trends, especially in this super-fast day and age, are simply flash in the pans. They come into our lives seemingly out of nowhere and leave just as quickly as they appeared. Remember the hilarious Nyan Cat phenomenon? It was literally everywhere a few years ago and then BOOM – gone.

If you were to have decided to trendjack it, and make a campaign around Nyan Cat even right at the very beginning, your work would have come off as dated fairly quickly. Even within a few months people were rolling their eyes at the mention of Nyan Cat and a year later it was a “remember that crazy Pop-Tart cat thing?” Any company relying too much on the trend had a short life span with their campaign.

Unless, of course, they were careful enough to make sure people knew it wasn’t the whole campaign. For example, a business could have written a blog post series on how Nyan Cat was actually bringing attention to the pastry industry again. This doesn’t imply the company is dependent on the trend to make sales, but they are hopping on the trend, trendjacking it to get some attention. There’s a big difference.

What to do if You Decide To Trendjack or Hop on a Trend

If you do decide to trendjack or hop on a trend, you have to keep in the back of your mind that you have to have your next plan in place almost immediately. All trends come to an end. People thought the Macarena would be around forever, but it all came crashing down quickly and now you can’t even mention the dance without someone gagging.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t hop on the trend for a little while. A company could use the latest Tik Tok dance move or another meme as part of their social media feed, but to continue to do that for years will date you significantly (in fact, you should be planning to move off it next week, as there will be a new one by then). You have to think of what’s next.

Life as a Trendjacker

This does not mean you should avoid all trends like the plague. Many of today’s most popular brands jump on trend after trend, especially in their social media, to increase engagement and social relevance with their audience (especially the younger, more connected portion of their audience.)
But they do it, knowing full well they

  1. Should not invest much in it, because
  2. They’ll be trendjacking a different new thing next week
  3. Because they’re doing it all in fun, and to connect with their audience.

Make sure to consider this ahead of time as you never know when the tide will turn. The public could get sick of the trend out of the blue and if you don’t have something else lined up you could be in trouble. But isn’t that like public relations as a whole? Have the next thing waiting around the corner or risk becoming outdated and passé.

Has a trend ever helped you gain attention for a campaign?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (https://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: https://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/cheap-pr-tactics/

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