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Across all social media platforms, content trends that go viral garner a lot of attention, both in terms of visibility and other engagement metrics such as “likes.”

However, is building a company’s social media presence by solely focusing on trending topics the best way to go?

Below, we share insights into ways you can balance your social media content between short-term “viral” topics with content that contributes to sustainable business growth.


The Pitfalls of Chasing Trends

Before we go any further, it’s important to note that we’re not saying you shouldn’t post any trending timely content. It’s about striking a balance between sharing your brand messaging, tapping into short-term viral trends, and delivering content that provides value to your audience.

Viral trends on social media can often spark a lot of engagement and derivative content that plays off the original post’s idea. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with leaning into these trends, but it’s important to keep in mind the short-term gains versus long-term impact.

These one-off viral posts can net digital marketers a “quick win” and potentially get increased engagement and visibility for your brand page, but it’s not what keeps social media users engaged with your content or brand over the long term. On our sister site, Influential Executive, we shared an article about the #DollyPartonChallenge meme that swept across social media for a brief period. At the time, brands, executives, and other social media users were all sharing their own versions. However, the trend died out after a couple of weeks and for brands that took part in the viral trend, like Nissan, it likely didn’t translate to any major outcomes other than increased views.

What trending posts can do for your company’s social media pages is position your brand as being “in the know” — you’re up to date and aware of popular topics. It allows marketers to be a part of a conversation that has the eyes and ears of millions of users online. But limited-time trending topics that aren’t core to your brand identity and values aren’t going to support long-term business growth. We mentioned that visibility and engagements (such as likes and comments) may increase, but these types of posts don’t really drive toward your company objectives. A one-off meme may win you style points, but it’s not going to help you generate leads or revenue for your company.

When creating a strategy for your brand’s social media page, consider what you want visitors to know about your brand and how you want them to perceive your company overall.


Building a Timeless Marketing Strategy

If we think about the different layers of social media content, short-lived viral content comes and goes, but the real “meat” of your strategy that never changes is content that speaks to your brand values. It’s audience-centric, meaning that the content you develop has significance for your target audience and their needs.

That’s why it’s crucial that when building a digital marketing strategy from the ground up, marketers focus on long-term goals and the type of content that can help them reach these objectives — rather than focusing on vanity metrics (like “likes”) and short-term trends. A strong foundation contributes to long-term success, while also ensuring your content aligns with your core brand values.

That’s not to say your content won’t change as time goes on. As your company grows, so too will your social media content and digital marketing program evolve. Ultimately, your audience-centric approach should dictate the direction. What are their pain points? What solution does your product or service deliver to your customers? What do they want to see on your social media feed? These are just some of the questions that help steer your social media content.


What Is Your Brand Tone and Voice?

Another important aspect to consider is your brand’s overall tone, voice, and the industry you’re creating content for. Industries like fashion, beauty, and consumer goods often (but not always) have more approachable social media content that focuses on building a relatable relationship with their social media followers.

On the other hand, what about the financial industry? While most marketers wouldn’t think about posting memes on their company’s social media pages, there can be times when tapping into trends can work. For example, Thornburg Investment Management shared this LinkedIn post referencing the Roman Empire meme. That being said, the majority of the company’s posts lean towards thought leadership content. The post is also less about the meme and more about highlighting Thornburg’s capabilities.

It ultimately comes down to balancing your brand tone and voice, the messaging you want to convey, and how you want to portray your brand to your social media followers. Casual or buttoned up? A focus on approachable (but potentially unbranded) content or educational thought leadership content?


Long-term Substance Over Short-Term Style

What’s often the case is that marketers will have a social media content mix that blends the two: approachable content that utilizes current trends alongside evergreen content that is core to their brand identity and objectives.

Below, read a case study about one of our clients in the pharmaceutical industry. When developing the digital marketing strategy for the company’s organic Instagram and Facebook feed, we allocated a higher percentage to educational and brand-related content, while still devoting a decent chunk to sharing trending content, such as relatable memes for new moms and pregnant women. Click below to read the article and results!

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