By Philasande Sokhela
With the advent of widespread digital communication, trends can quickly spread across the globe. It can be challenging for brands to cut through the constant stream of information and opinions and be heard. However, brands can benefit from this by realizing the significance of trends in online conversations and learning to navigate them successfully.
How do trends influence online conversations?
According to Hubspot, 36 per cent of users learn more about products through short video reels, and 55 per cent discover products or services via TikTok. When something becomes widely discussed or adopted by a large segment of a population, we say that it has become a trend in that group. It usually takes just one idea, image, or piece of content to spark a trend that then explodes across various online communities and media. One of the ways in which brands improve visibility on social platforms is through hashtags.
“The right hashtags can help brands increase the visibility of their content” – Koba Molenaar (Influencer Marketing Hub)
According to Influence Marketing Hub, the top trending hashtags globally for TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn are as follows:
In the absence of data relating to specific social media platforms, South Africa seems to be unique in creating tags. According to Display Purposes, The top five hashtags used in south Africa in 2023 are;
So how do brands navigate the Noise?
Navigating noise online, particularly on social media, can be challenging. However, here are suggestions that brands can use to cut through the clutter, get noticed and use trends to their advantage.
Keep an eye on conversations.
A brand’s online community manager/social media manager needs to have a deep understanding of online conversations and opinions on social platforms. Tools such as Brand24 can provide real-time insights into mentions, tags and insights across social media, news, blogs, videos, forums, podcasts, reviews, and more.
By monitoring online conversations, brands can identify emerging trends and track sentiments shared about the brand.
Image Source: Brand24 (https://brand24.com/)Be part of the conversations.
A brand’s social media shouldn’t be lifeless and robotic but rather engaging and human. For this, you’ll need a conversationalist with exceptional skills who can either curate content that fits the trend or start conversations with users already discussing the topic. Participate or host Twitter Spaces.
Being part of the conversation demonstrates expertise and provides value to customers. By so doing, your brand is building trust and credibility with the target audience, which could see increased engagement.
Image Source: Twitter (https://create.twitter.com/en/products/twitter-spaces)
Be Authentic and Stay true to brand values.
Brands need to act in an honest and open manner when engaging in online discussions and social trends. Users are smart enough to recognize when a brand is inappropriately inserting itself into a discussion or attempting to profit off of a trend. Try not to force anything!
Last but not least, brands must maintain consistency with their core beliefs and objectives as they navigate online conversations and trends. Trying to cash in on every passing fad can make a brand look insincere and exploitative.
Online conversations are strongly influenced by trends, which can be both beneficial and detrimental to brands. In one sense, they allow businesses to initiate dialogue with their target audiences. However, trends can be chaotic and short-lived, making it tough for brands to break through the din and stand out. Brands can take advantage of trends if they remain true to their values, give customers what they want, and take part in conversations in an authentic and meaningful way.