By definition, viral trends are fleeting. But hopping on them at just the right time can yield massive, long-lasting success in marketing a product, brand, or service.
With an estimated 328.77 million terabytes of data created each day, it can be difficult for brands to find unique ways to reach and be remembered by potential customers. But brands have a greater chance of making a lasting connection if they can meet customers where they are and appeal to their interests.
Thinking about and connecting with future customers who might not yet be aware of your brand can help increase the likelihood that they will turn to you when ready to buy. This is where leveraging media trends, pop culture, and other global topics comes into play. By taking a trending topic or event and figuring out how it becomes relevant for your brand, customers are more likely to remember you the next time they need a solution.
While participating in every trend may seem tempting, brand alignment is crucial in developing a successful marketing campaign.
So how can brands leverage trends to attract potential customers?
Be creative with your content. Start by opening your mind to the potential ways your brand’s solutions can join the conversation and take it to the next level by leaning into your arsenal of assets to explore trends with less restriction than you might have to exercise with paid or earned media.
Google: Your Always-on Focus Group
When mapping out a brand’s audience and needs, Google is a valuable asset in a marketer’s toolkit. It is incredibly accurate in its ability to reveal the current demands of real people searching for solutions at any given time, so Google serves as your always-on focus group.
Successfully harvesting Google’s sophisticated search data allows brands to develop better consumer behavior insights, add depth to their customer profiles, build a more engaging customer journey, and create authentic consumer connections. They can strengthen strategies and drive meaningful business outcomes when paired with other consumer research and insights.
Understanding consumer search data is a critical step for brands to gain the insights necessary to build relationships with consumers by gaining their trust, building a connection, and establishing authenticity, which will help convert prospects into customers.
Identify Trends That Fit Your Brand
Brands that successfully identify what content and topics target consumers are reading about, searching for, and discussing, can capture more attention in real-time. However, it’s critical to use data in this identification, not just gut feelings. Marketers risk allowing their strategies to be based on siloed personal opinions without actionable consumer insights. Google Trends, for example, provides brands with an evolving supply of organic search data, revealing an unfiltered landscape of their audience’s pain points, interests, and curiosities.
This collection of accurate data provides a real-time snapshot of current trending topics. What would Google Trends reveal in a search today? Two of the most popular concepts right now: AI and Barbie.
While brands have managed to successfully leverage one or the other, combining two trending concepts (when it’s relevant for your brand, of course) will create a more significant opportunity for brands to reach larger, more diverse audiences.
By producing fun, timely content that aligns with consumer interests, brands can build a large library of content to be used across multiple channels, including their websites, targeted earned media opportunities, email newsletters, social posts, and organic searches to maximize the value of each asset.
Let’s look at an example.
It’s a Barbie and AI World
Data collected over the past five years shows the term “Barbie” peaked in search interest the week of Dec. 23, 2018, with just over 1.9 million searches. This was around the same time as the announcement of a same-sex Barbie couple and a video of actor Jason Mamoa reading out the “Barbie Girl” lyrics during the Aquaman press tour.
Ahead of the Barbie film’s release in July 2023, Barbie-related Google searches peaked at 5.4 million from March 25 to April 21. Following the release of a teaser trailer on April 4, the term “Barbie” yielded 2.2 million searches that week alone.
Quite literally painting the world in various shades of pink, the marketing rollout behind the Barbie film has left a mark in nearly every industry.
While makeup, fashion, and decor align more closely with the Barbie image on the surface, vacation rentals, insurance companies, and video game console manufacturers have found clever ways to connect with the film and its audience, organically continuing the film’s marketing momentum.
Barbie has even made its way into the tech space. Looking up the word ‘Barbie’ in Google generates a flash of starbursts and casts a pink tint over the search results page. Combined with AI, another trending topic, more brands and consumers have found ways to join in the fun.
AI-powered art has led to wide adoption of the technology on social media. The popular Barbie selfie generator overlaid users’ images and personalized taglines over the movie poster. TikTok users took it a step further by bringing a different third-party filter to the app that completely transforms the user into a Barbie character. AI also led to new, realistic iterations of Barbie’s dreamhouse to show what the dollhouse might look like in different states across the U.S. or when designed by famous architects like Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier, and Zara Hadid.
Recognizing the popularity of both topics is the first step for brands to join a trend. The next is figuring out if it makes sense for your brand to connect with both issues and, if so, how to apply AI technology to the mounting interest in Barbie. By using generative AI to add Barbie’s touch to selfies and architecture, brands were able to identify places where audiences could easily assimilate into the narrative, connecting them to consumers while also building brand awareness.
While joining in trends might not lead to direct conversions, brands become more memorable and visible by inserting themselves into current interests and generating related content. This connection invites consumers to build trust with your brand before joining the buyer’s journey.
Try Out Different Trends
Once your brand has identified relevant trends, brainstorm opportunities for content creation. Consider topics like record-high temperatures, the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and Meta’s launch of Threads. How can your brand take advantage of the interest surrounding these topics?
First, create owned assets related to this consumer interest data. This might include a blog post discussing protecting your products in extreme heat or generating images of what it might look like to host a world cup game with star players in Barbie Land.
Next, share this content on social media, in ads, or email campaigns to grow your content as managed assets. Invite your followers to provide tips or insert their own likenesses for added engagement. Finally, work with influencers or news organizations to develop additional content. Leveraging influencers and their followers can result in a viral moment that leads consumers back to your brand.
While consumers research brands to find more information about products, services, and other offerings they may need now or in the future; they place a greater emphasis on forming relationships with authentic brands they can trust.
If your brand can become a part of their daily lives by offering them engaging content that appeals to their interests each day—and shows that your brand is engaged with the latest trends — consumers will be more likely to build a connection with your brand and look to you when they are ready to enter the buyer’s journey.
Featured Image Credit: Anna Shvets; Pexels; Thank you!