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Where do trends come from: hello, situational marketing

Popular Marketing and PR
Situational marketing is the use of well-known events that are popular at the moment. First of all, ad hoc cases work on brand awareness. Your reaction to a trend can go viral and attract new audiences. However, if you inscribe your product correctly and appropriately, the information trend can work to increase sales.

Situational marketing difference is that it’s impossible to prepare it in advance. Or maybe possible? Let’s take a look.

Below you will find:
  • Where do trends come from
  • Expected cases
  • Where to get newsbreaks
  • General rules of situational marketing cases

Where do trends come from

What causes a trend is something that has people’s strong emotional reaction, which can be either positive, negative, humorous, inspired, or a combination of several messages.

The development of a trend is like a snowball rolling down a mountain: it grows rapidly, increases in volume, and then collides with an obstacle and breaks in an instant. Thus, the trend is rapidly gaining stunning speed, quickly reaches its peak and at some point ceases to be interesting to the audience.

A trend can grow from any of a social, political, brand or personal event, or post, or speech, or program, or photo, or video. Remember: anything can become a trend today. Just think of IKEA sharks.

Media analytics: why do you need it?

Trends are often born by opinion leaders: their actions or statements, so follow the main social figures. Public reactions can be provoked by the statements and actions of politicians, celebrities, bloggers — anyone whose activities are public and whose identity is recognizable. In addition, it is important not only as a newsbreak for situational marketing, but also for maintaining a reputation. Track the public performance of people and brands associated with your company.

Imagine that your partner publicly expresses a position that does not correspond to your company values. Then you should declare the difference of your views and do it as soon as possible. The longer the audience waits for your answer, the bigger negativity wave towards you grows. Thus a willingness to respond to situational marketing will help save reputation through crisis communications.

Also, tracking the public activities of other brands or companies can teach you to use situational cases. Find brands whose reactions to trends appeal to you, and track their ad hoc reactions. This does not mean that you should copy the style of a certain other brand. Use this as an example of solving problems in math textbooks: observe how you can work with it, and over time you will develop a clearer understanding of mechanisms and of your own style that matches your company image.

A trend provides you with a theme to "embed" your brand in. However, not all trends will be relevant to your company. Respond only to those that match your image and values — though you can sometimes go beyond the image, but never betray values.

Situational cases can appear in many forms. Photo-video shooting or outdoor advertising are time-consuming and expensive. But situational reactions require speed, and because their "shelf life" is short, it shouldn't require significant budgets.

For example, Ukrposhta — a national postal operator in Ukraine — changes its Facebook logo depending on newsbreaks: the popular TV series "Squid Game", Valentine's Day, Kyiv Day, lunar eclipse, Easter or Ukraine's victory at Eurovision. Changing the profile photo is not expensive and effectively attracts attention.

Expected situational cases

But some situational cases can still be predicted. For example, it snows every year in Kyiv or Warsaw or New York. But every year it becomes a "surprise" and a newsbreak. Public utilities are trying to cope with this, drivers spend time in long traffic jams, social media stories on this day also consist of snow. If you have a delivery service, you can prepare for such a situation even back in summer, so in winter you have ready-to-publish content of your couriers making their way through Antarctic snow drifts somewhere in Vynohradar or Wesoła or Brooklyn to deliver cheesecakes / flowers / food or winter tires to your favorite customers.

Another predictable situational case is the release of a new movie or product that everyone is waiting for. It is not easy to know what will resonate in it (and whether it will), therefore it is not necessary to prepare something in advance. However, you can stand on a low start and be "ready to create". So called “situationals” can be predictable things that still resonate.

Plus, the usual newsbreak can get new details and acquire a slightly different meaning. For example, sowing 2022 in Ukraine differs from the same period in previous years — as russian invasion and the war changed the regular situation.

Snowfall is a newsbreak, but it is not interesting enough for the audience. Unusual details are needed. If it snowed and there was a video of Boris Johnson throwing snowballs in Kyiv, — it would quickly gain popularity and immediately spread to media and social networks.

There are also calendar situational cases — events that are known in advance. FIFA World Cup, New Year, Halloween, Easter. We know all of them, but it does not mean that your company has to respond to all the events. If you make alcoholic beverages, adding a vyshyvanka pattern to your wrappers for Vyshyvanka Day will be completely inappropriate. However, if your brand creates embroidered clothes, then this event is one of the main ones in your calendar.

This Entodim brand video from the Drama Queen creative agency actively spread on Instagram in 2021, and in 2022 it was republished and gained additional value for the whole country. This powerful situational case is an example of thoughtful work and further preparation.

Where to get newsbreaks

1.  Create your own
Your company can be a newsbreak source. If something happens to your brand or employees that could provoke a reaction from society, tell about it. Pay attention to what is happening around your company. Try to evaluate them from the user's point of view. This is an example of "passive" newsbreak creation — your team tells about an event that wasn't planned as a brand trust increase, for example.

Another way is to "actively" participate in newsbreak creation. Analyze which events most commonly become trending for your audience. How these trends develop, what forms are used, how they affect brands. After that, gather for brainstorms and try to imagine what trend your company can create. (And don't be afraid of "weird" ideas).

2. Search for ideas among client / non-client content

The "Russian warship, go ** yourself" postage stamp has already become legendary. Ukrposhta's reaction to customer content supports the stamp's story power and reminds of it once again.

If you have found a client’s history and understand that it can go for a newsbreak, try to tell it on behalf of the company. Just be sure to ask permission from the content author / story hero. Even if the person posted the information publicly and tagged you, it would be good to thank and agree if it is okay to use the content.

3. Wedge into the stream

If you see that a trend is gaining momentum — pick it up! Look at what has already been done in this trend direction and try to invent something of your own. It is best to join the trend when it is just gaining momentum. In order not to miss this moment monitor the trends development and dynamics (more on this in the next paragraph).

Your competitors have already posted their versions of a situational case, and you are the only one remaining silent? If so, think about whether your reaction to the trend is going to be strong enough to stand out from the competition. If not, leave it for internal team chats. The situational marketing is about a bright and fast emotion, not about "whatever". You don't have to react to everything.

4.  Become the discoverers

It is difficult to become pioneers during trend development. First, a potential trend needs to be found. To do this, use special services. For example, Google Trends helps seeing general trends in your subject. Start with general queries and gradually move to more specific ones. However, using Google Trends requires an understanding of how it works. You need to analyze the data and try to track changes yourself.

LOOQME monitors trends development for our clients. We determine narratives of large information arrays — that is, we do know what a market, a country or several countries are talking about. It also allows you to define the context in which a particular brand exists.

Thus, we keep track of trending topics: what is relevant now, what interest has increased during the week (or other period of time), what is new in the information field, how active this topic is, and so on. This makes it possible to identify potential trends. Then marketers have the opportunity to focus not on the whole boundless infospace, but to pay attention to specific topics or events.

General rules of situational marketing

Be careful: if you make mistakes in situational marketing (as in any other), it can cause a powerful blow to your reputation.

Hurry up slowly. Yes, situational marketing requires efficiency. However, check everything one more time and test on your company's employees before publishing.

Check if anyone else has previously published an idea that is identical to yours.

Respond to situational cases selectively — not all trends are relevant to your company.

The main rule of situational marketing is the same as of simple human communications — to follow moral code. Avoid situations that discriminate or insult.

Situational marketing, like any other communication, must be relevant.