Business leaders should always be on the lookout for ways to take advantage of the latest trends. Just in time for Halloween, for example, internet service provider Xfinity capitalized on the current interactive marketing trend when it streamed a virtual haunted house tour using its WiFi-extending xFi Pods. More than 5 million people tuned in to the live interactive thriller, dubbed "Project Dead Zone." It was still trending on Twitter several days later.
Of course, you can't let every marketing stunt max out your budget; I, for one, don't have a line item for a haunted house rental in mine. But if marketing trends--such as user-generated content, experiential marketing, or hyper-personalization--will get people talking, then it's worth finding the most effective way to capitalize on them when you can.
The key is to know what marketing trends are worth your engagement because they're impactful to your target audience. Augmented reality campaigns might work for Coca-Cola and Starbucks, but maybe Instagram Stories would resonate more with your fans. Once you've identified the trends that mean the most to your audience, these three tips will help you make the most of them:
1. Steal the spotlight.
The social media landscape presents plenty of opportunities to join trending conversations in ways that draw positive attention to your brand. Better still, create opportunities to drive the conversation yourself. For example, IHOP had all of social media buzzing this summer when it announced it was changing its name to IHOb--days before explaining the B would stand for burgers.
That's not to say there aren't huge engagement and visibility benefits to joining in on another brand's buzz. When IHOP clarified the temporary burger promotion, so many other brands responded that #IHOb morphed into an industry competition for the spotlight. Restaurants like Wendy's and Burger King joined in with quips and name-change spoofs of their own, and even Chiquita found a way to insert itself into the conversation with a little banana humor.
2. Give people an experience to talk about.
If you provide consumers with an engaging experience, the conversation will start itself. According to the Trade Show News Network, 91 percent of over-performing companies significantly invest in event marketing--and not every event has to be as grand as a haunted house, either. For example, NYC's Museum of Ice Cream features pop-up shops that provide an instant, Instagram-worthy experience.
"Pop-ups open up channels for additional revenue, customer acquisition, and provide an opportunity to capture content to fuel social channels," says Scott Schoeneberger, managing partner at experiential marketing agency Bluewater Technologies. "Best of all they create unique experiences for customers to consume--something today's customers are all searching for."
3. Think about discovery trends, too.
To optimize your engagement with consumer marketing trends, it's important to consider how people search for and purchase products now. For example, Google has turned images into searchable queries and plans to enhance its search function for visual content, and smartphones already give most people the ability to search for things by voice.
ComScore predicts that by 2020, more than half of all searches will be done by voice. When consumers audibly ask their phones to search for something instead of typing it in, the language is more natural, and the query is usually more specific. To be included in search results, you'll need to create content and promote it in ways that match the trend or get muted by the voices of the brands that do.