How Viral Trends Can Be Useful For Your Business

This is a guest post by Brittany McQuinn (@BrittanyMcQuinn)

I have been incredibly amused by the way people fully and unknowingly perpetuate trends on the social web. If you’re one of the 800 million active users on Facebook, chances are you’ve probably participated in one of these trends yourself. Remember SuperPoke? Compare People? Friend Quiz? Those are just a few of the apps that made it big in the Facebook world in its early and most formative years.

“[Insert Name Here] has thrown a sheep at you.”

“[Random mutual friend] has sucker punched you.”

Really? Yes, we actually used to put our precious and coveted time into this. It didn’t matter if you had a deadline that day, whoever just virtually abused you via social media was about to get it. And that’s just Super Poke.

PS: BeFitt actually sells these T-shirts here -> 

Original Flickr Photo

Friend Quiz was a trend that always made me wonder about who I was calling my friends. If you were like me, you entered about ten questions into the app, gave a few multiple choice answers, hit submit, and sat on Facebook for the next couple of nights to watch the people you THOUGHT knew you well get 37% on your quiz. It became a bit frightening after a while, and eventually we collectively stopped putting our time into it.

And these are the things in social media we have labelled as viral trends. “What happens fast ends fast,” a quote my mother often said to me as a kid. As much as we love posting hilarious memes, joining pages titled “I drank from the hose as a kid and survived,” and are amused by watching the result of teenagers making statuses saying “like for a tbh (to be honest),” those of us who put a lot of thought into the workings of social media know that these trends will soon disappear from our news feed. What’s important is that we identify these trends as they happen and use them for our businesses while they're hot.

How Viral Trends Can Help Your Business

So you’re probably wondering “How can throwing a sheep at someone help my business?” It can’t, but that doesn’t mean that all viral trends on the social web are useless to your brand. For example, Jared Kleinstein, the creator of Tebowing.com, is capitalizing off of the internet meme of Tebowing, that is, taking photos of yourself in the famous Tim Tebow stance of praying on the football field, by creating products to sell around Tebowing (read about it in the Entrepreneur.com article here)

Another example of a business using viral trends is Microsoft’s marketing of their products through a short video, showing multiple products being used to spread the word about flash mobs (seen below or view it here

I remember a viral trend unique to Facebook from 2008 that lasted a solid few months. It utilized the “Notes” function on Facebook (which your brand’s Facebook page has access to), and was usually titled “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me.”

A keen business person using social media may see the potential in using this trend as a way for people to learn some understated strengths, benefits, or interesting facts of their brand. For example, perhaps creating a note titled “25 Things You Don’t Know About Our Business.” As I said, this trend has long past, but it's always good practice to keep your eyes open for opportunities to use these trends for your business.

Even if you can’t directly relate a viral trend to your company, sharing a meme (like a funny comic strip meme) on your brand's online presence (Facebook page, Twitter, Youtube, etc) can offer users a more lively and interactive experience, thus fostering growth and “shares” on our customer’s profiles. Why? Because it tells others that there are real people behind your brand that care and are current.

Staying up to date and utilizing viral trends while they last tells others that your brand is not dormant; it is alive and well, and is interested in connecting with people. And these things are the reason why we all believe in the power of social media marketing in the first place.

Have you ever used a viral trend for you brand? What have you done? Please tell us in the comments below.

Guest post: Brittany McQuinn (@BrittanyMcQuinnis the Morning Co-Host on JoyFm 96.5 Radio (JoyFM Facebook page) and a 4th year Psychology student at University of New Brunswick and Artist at BrittanyMcQuinn.com