Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Netting Sales by Jumping on Viral Trends

by Greg DePersio

2 min read

Retail stores all over the world jumped on the Pokemon Go train in 2016 by putting up signage welcoming Pokemon Trainers, offering deals to players, and holding special Pokemon-catching in-store events. Piggybacking on viral trends can be an incredibly effective and lean marketing strategy. If you’re not sure how or why you should leverage these trends in your marketing efforts, here’s a basic guide to help you out.

Viral Marketing

When you embrace a viral trend as part of your marketing strategy, you become part of an existing conversation, and, you ideally tap into the client base that’s having this conversation. At the same time, by getting involved, you make your brand more compelling to people interested in this trend.

In the case of Pokemon Go, players were already walking around, hunting Pokemon, and in many cases, they were catching Pokemon in front of businesses. To capitalize on the trend, many shop owners invited the players inside or even used virtual Pokemon to lure them inside. The businesses provided what the players needed in terms of outlets to charge their batteries and snacks to fuel themselves, and that helped turn bypassing Pokemon-centred foot traffic into paying customers. Additionally, by engaging with the trend, these businesses branded themselves as cool, family friendly, and in-tune with the community.

Finding Viral Trends

To use a viral trend in your marketing, you first need to find it. If you wait to hear about it organically, the moment may have passed. To keep up with trends, use social media. Check the trending topics on Facebook and Twitter, look at the viral videos on YouTube’s home page regularly, and follow news sites like Buzzfeed that tend to report on viral trends.

Due Diligence

Before jumping on a trend, do a bit of due diligence. For example, if you are writing a tweet with a trending hashtag, make sure you understand the history and implications of using that hashtag. Similarly, consider the social implications of the trend you are jumping on and make sure it’s a match for your brand. To explain, while many businesses benefited from jumping on the Pokemon Go bandwagon, others may have been hurt by the act. For example, a toy shop full of classic, wooden toys patronized by parents who likely set screen time limits for their kids, could alienate their client base by jumping on the trend. Similarly, a vegan restaurant may not find it advantageous to jump on the bacon trend.

The Spin

After you’ve identified a trend and decided to use it, you need to put your own spin on it. Ideally, you want to bring something new to the conversation. For example, when millions of people were debating the colour of a dress online, the Salvation Army decided to use the trend to draw attention to the issue of domestic violence. The extremely effective marketing campaign made people look by using an image they were already interested in and talking about. Once the organization had people’s attention, it shared its own message.

References & Resources

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