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Published July 4th 2022

The Ultimate Guide To Trendjacking

Trendjacking isn’t a new thing. Brands have been jumping on trends as a way to promote themselves for years. But getting involved with a new hashtag, event, or meme can sometimes be tricky to get right. 

Although trendjacking might seem like an easy marketing strategy, you first need to be aware of what it is, how it can benefit your brand, and how to do it successfully

What is trendjacking? 

Trendjacking is when a brand takes advantage of a trend in an attempt to boost visibility and (hopefully) profit.

Brands aim to join in with conversation that is already happening, either offline or online, and capitalize on the exposure that movement is getting.

Trendjacking is most often used with bite-sized digital content, such as:

  • A quick tweet
  • An image
  • A short video

This is mainly because getting your presence in the conversation as quickly as possible is essential, as no one really knows when a trend will die out.

You can also take part in trendjacking by means of pitching journalists. BuzzSumo have a study on that, where they analyzed 600K journalist profiles, to understand what journalists really want from pitches.

The difference between trendjacking and newsjacking

Newsjacking is the practice of inserting your idea or brand into current news to gain media traction and social media recognition. Any digital PR agency will be able to tell you just how effective this technique is at getting your name out there. 

Trendjacking in marketing is similar, in a way, but it’s when you take advantage of a trend to boost your brand, rather than jumping on stories that have already hit the news. The main aim of trendjacking is to increase awareness.

The benefits of trendjacking

By taking advantage of trendjacking, you can increase brand visibility as well as boost the efforts of the rest of the marketing team. 

Boost brand visibility

One of the most obvious benefits of this strategy is getting more eyes on your brand. By trendjacking, you’re using upper-funnel marketing tactics—campaigns that reach users before they know about your brand, product, or service.

The awareness stage of the marketing funnel can be the most volatile. You often only have a few seconds to grab someone’s attention. In between using content marketing tools to get ideas for posts, joining in on trends can be a fast-track to increasing your visibility. 

A quick win

Unlike a lot of PR campaign ideas, trendjacking also offers brands simple, easy content to publish. Instead of starting a new conversation from scratch, you can join in on an existing one. 

You won’t have to try and drum up interest as there is already plenty of it. The talent lies in knowing when to put something out and choosing the perfect response to the trend, rather than spending hours crafting a campaign. 

Humanizes your brand

Trendjacking also allows your audience to identify with your brand on a human level. 

Rather than just using digital PR or content campaigns to promote your product or service, you’re talking to your potential customers about something they’re already interested in. 

Drives conversions

The most attractive benefit of trendjacking is increasing conversion rates. 

Driving more traffic to your site will help gather leads, and if you have the right actions waiting for these new visitors, it can eventually increase sales conversions

How to carry out trendjacking successfully

Participating in a trending conversation is a great way to drive more eyes to your social accounts. With a well-executed trendjacking campaign, you can amplify the buzz around your brand and gain new followers. 

However, while having more eyes on your brand is rarely a bad thing, you need to make sure you have processes set up to convert these viewers. 

1. Keep up with the latest trends

Put simply, to jump on trends, you need to be aware of them in the first place. And we’re not talking weeks, or even days, after the conversation—you need to hop on the trending topic as soon as it gains traction. 

A good brand monitoring tool will help you keep up with trends in your industry and the global zeitgeist. Getting alerts as soon as a new trend starts to emerge puts you in the best position to react to them.

Social media monitoring is also a must. Two other ways to keep up with the culture in your industry are to use Twitter and Google Trends.

Every week or month, Google Trends dedicates an entire page to analyzing a popular search trend, whereas Twitter regularly updates the trending topics (to the side of your timeline).

With both tools, you can see what's trending in different regions, so you can localize your trendjacking to really appeal to the right audience.

2. Understand the trend

Brands that try to cater to trends without knowing the inside joke always fall flat. If you’re unsure of the root of the trend, why it’s popular, or the meaning behind specific hashtags, your response could be considered desperate or tone-deaf. 

At best, people just dismiss your brand’s attempt at joining it. At worst, a controversy begins with your company at the centre, that will put off people in your target audience. 

It’s also helpful to know when it’s time to get involved—too early, and it won't be understood by enough people, but too late, and you'll be considered cringey old news. 

3. Put your own spin on it

Brands trying out trendjacking but not coming up with anything original is like someone repeating a joke but louder. And you will get called out for it on the Internet. 

Humor is necessary when it comes to trendjacking. Be bold with it! Trendjacking is nothing more than a way for brands to get exposure—everyone will know this. Just make sure your addition is actually interesting. 

4. Don't sell

Trendjacking isn’t about mentioning a product or service you’re selling. You can lightly hint at your product, but the best course of action is to fully focus on the conversation. 

Your audience will be able to see through your trendjacking if you try to take a hard-selling approach. The campaign then sours, seems inauthentic and loses any of the potential benefits. 

5. Make it worthwhile

Exposure doesn’t have to be the only thing coming from your trendjacking. If you’ve managed to grab someone’s attention, then you need to maintain their interest and try to convert it. 

Add links to specific landing pages in your social account bio, a quick link at the end of the conversation, or even dedicated pages set up and optimized to target keywords relating to the trend. A good SEO company will be able to advise on the best ways to help these new visitors along the marketing funnel. 

Deciding when to hop on trends

Not every trend is going to be the right one for your brand. Ask yourself these questions before wading into the latest conversation. 

Is it relevant?

Relevancy is always more important than trendiness.

Is the trend going to reflect your values? Is the trend a good fit for your tone of voice? Branded memes can be the perfect trendjacking fit. But if they’re perceived as forced, or even worse, tasteless, your audience won’t let you forget it. 

Will you be able to do it?

Is your campaign deliverable on time? A trend can be old in the blink of an eye, which means you can’t spend large amounts of time on your response to it. 

If you truly want to invest in trendjacking, it’s time to let go of the rounds of reviews, sign-offs and changes that normally come with new campaigns. Put your trust in whoever is carrying out the trendjacking in your team. 

Is it appropriate?

Some trends just aren’t right for brands in general. While individuals on different social media platforms can get away with joking about taboo subjects or taking a light-hearted approach to serious topics, brands cannot.  

This is where you use your common sense. If jumping on a trend doesn’t sit right with you, it’s best to leave it. 

Will your target demographic understand it?

The whole point of trendjacking is to get more eyes on your brand. By being tactical with your efforts, you can make sure they’re the right eyes. 

If you’re pretty sure your target audience won’t be interested in the trend, wait until there’s one where they will be. Wading into a conversation where nobody cares about your brand or what you’re saying isn’t the best use of your time. 

Is trendjacking worth it?

So, is trendjacking worth it? Absolutely. 

When carried out well, trendjacking can be a powerful tool to increase brand visibility, generate leads, and secure placements for your clients.

You just need to keep in mind the potential problems you could face and make sure your social media guide is solid to allow for the quick-thinking trendjacking requires.

If you want to test-drive BuzzSumo's Trending Feed shown above, and do some trendjacking of your own, sign up for your 30-day free trial here.

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