Tapping into Trends

There are plenty of books on how to use social media to market your organization; thick ones, too. While they’re full of good ideas, they sometimes forget one key element: You’re allowed to have fun with social media. You can have a little fun with your followers while appropriately trumping your cause and/or brand. One way to do this is by occasionally jumping in on the various day-themed hashtag discussions. One of the most popular days is Thursday, the day Twitter and Instagram users share a photo from back in the day. It’s called #ThrowbackThursday. Sure, it’s a little silly, but it’s the lighter side of what you’re trying to accomplish and there’s nothing wrong with putting a little personality behind your social media feeds. A quick search through the hashtag shows a lot of users sharing images from childhood. While I wouldn’t encourage you to share your own personal childhood images—unless your personal brand is relevant to your social objective—I would say to consider the spirit of the hashtag and how you can use it to create conversations with your followers. The Atlanta Falcons use the hashtag weekly during the regular season to highlight images of games from days gone by against that week’s competition. It generates buzz for the team and the game heading into the weekend and it’s a fun way to connect with the fans. Perhaps you’re about to announce your keynote speaker for an upcoming event. #ThrowbackThursday is a perfect time to make that announcement and get your followers involved as well. You could post a throwback picture of your speaker to generate excitement around the official announcing of their name. Maybe there’s a contest involved or a countdown that spans a few weeks. The choice is yours, but don’t be afraid to have some fun with it. Of course #tbt is not the limit of the lighter side of social media. There are plenty of trending topics. Twitter will show you what the top trends are in a given city, region or country. Some are definitely topics to avoid, but there are always plenty of options. And like I’ve mentioned in the past, you can always create your own hashtag to market something specific, but don’t expect all of them to catch on. If you land on a good one, however, it’s a great way to track what people are saying and it’s an open window into a potential two-way conversation. Remember, all you’re trying to do is create buzz. There are a lot of ways to accomplish this and hashtags and trends are just a few of them. You’ll have to consider what is right for you and what you’re representing, but if you can have a little fun with what you’re doing and show some personality, why not do it? Everyone else is.   (AP Photo/Mike Mergen)