5 Tips for Joining a Trending Conversation

By Staff  |  December 4, 2015

People sitting around a table working

Trending topics are constantly surfacing — notable or unexpected events and speeches transform social media platforms into hubs for questioning, commenting, and celebrating what is happening.

When this happens, your brand has an opportunity to join a timely conversation, gain exposure and promote engagement with current and new followers. But how do you offer a fresh voice and avoid adding another generic post people will scroll past? Follow these tips (and mind the pitfalls) so your brand can add a meaningful contribution to a hot topic and even help guide the conversation.

  • Do offer something that adds value to your reader and offers a new experience. Repeating a sentiment that’s been said already won’t elicit a response or increase exposure.
  • Do tweak your thought for each channel. Understand the differences in how you communicate with followers on different social medias and tailor your message accordingly.
  • Do your research. Make sure you have a full understanding of the topic and what others are saying about it before you join in. (DiGiorno faced an unfortunate situation when they grabbed a trending hashtag without taking the time to understand its context.)
  • Don’t create one post and call it done. Once you have joined the conversation, you want to stay aware and up-to-date as the trend evolves. Make sure someone on the social team is available to respond to comments or queries.
  • Don’t try to insert your brand into a conversation that’s not relevant, just for the sake of capitalizing on its popularity. Users will see through the ploy. (This story of Epicurious illustrates the dangers of trying to incorporate a current issue into a marketing strategy.)

Here’s a real world example of a successful campaign from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine.

Celebrating the independent shops and business owners that make the Twin Cities a vibrant and exciting place to live? That’s kind of Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s MO. As the city’s biggest regional print magazine, the publication supports local businesses every day, from collaborating on events to profiling up-and-coming entrepreneurs. They live, breathe and Tweet small biz love — in their print magazine and on mspmag.com.

On September 30, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton declared ‘Small Business Day’ for the state — coinciding with the premiere of Small Business Revolution, a documentary produced by Deluxe Corp. The announcement prompted a stream of commentary from news outlets, businesses, and individuals sharing their thoughts on social media, at events, and around the office. No question — it was a coup for Deluxe, and for local pride, and presented a window for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine to join in the buzz.

Adding a relevant and fresh voice to the conversation, however, required strategic thinking. To properly own the conversation, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine needed a unique perspective — content that gave users something they hadn’t seen before. As a lifestyle publication, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine didn’t want to get bogged down with the economics of the issue, either. Taking an original angle that propelled people to act and promoted the Twin Cities culture of encouraging local biz love: that’s the win they were looking for.

Mpls.St.Paul Magazine’s digital team commandeered MSPC’s digital strategy team to collaborate on a concept. The result — asking fans and followers to ‘tag’ or ‘mention’ a favorite local business on social media. The post went out to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, accompanied by a photo of a street populated with independent stores. The fresh, real-time image invited users to imagine strolling down a street they know and love, while a casual, spunky tone made the request inviting, but low pressure.

The Result: Fans and followers went wild over the ask. Users across all three took up the call, commenting with tags and shout-outs of appreciation. Businesses responded in kind, developing a two-way conversation that not only increased exposure and positive views of the Mpls.St.Paul Magazine brand, but also confirmed just what Small Business Day was about. Instagram received 120 comments, the most comments an Instagram has ever received, and 486 likes, outperforming 97% of the channel’s 750+ images. The

Facebook post garnered an above-and-beyond response, with 3,920 impressions, 29 comments, and 7 shares, from businesses, neighborhood organizations, and individuals alike. Twitter received an impressive 12 favorites and 3,695 impressions.

Conclusion: With these posts, Mpls.St.Paul Magazine gave a fresh perspective on a trending conversation — and promoted positive connection — by recommending one easy step. They capitalized on the knowledge that social media is a space where businesses and customers engage in daily interactions and transactions. The simple call-to-action, ‘Tag a local business you love below!’ empowered users to send a nod of gratitude to small businesses in a thoughtful, unobtrusive way. Mpls.St.Paul Magazine set in motion a celebratory conversation that lingered on after the official day had ended.

So here’s what it comes down to: Get followers and users excited about an issue they care about — and have this reminder come from a friendly and knowledgeable source.

Read next: Content Marketing vs. Advertising: What’s the Difference, Again?

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