twitter iphone

8 golden rules for trendjacking on social media

For brands to stay relevant on social, getting involved in trends and popular news is an easy place to start. ‘Trendjacking’, as it’s now described, sees brands jumping into viral conversations including hashtags, memes, and video content. When a brand does this successfully, Trendjacking enables a connection with target audiences, the ability to reach new users, and allows brand personality to shine through social content. However, not all brands have nailed the formula just yet. Let’s explore when Trendjacking can be clever and when it’s just plain cringe.

As a social lover, it’s easy to want to put out content that you yourself would like. As a marketer and social media manager, it’s imperative that the content you create is always relevant for the brand’s audience. The same goes when jumping on trends, think about the brand’s ethos, messaging, and audience before trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. We also need to consider how our brand is adding a unique spin, your audience will switch off if you’re churning out the same content as everyone else.

Research is critical when thinking about inserting your brand into an existing conversation. Keep in mind the context of the trend, how can your brand offer value to a topic it hasn’t got a firm understanding of? Brand’s must also be conscientious when Trendjacking, remember the Pepsi x Kendall Jenner fiasco? Back in 2017, Pepsi released a social advert starring supermodel Kendall Jenner, the brand stirred up criticism for portraying a wealthy white woman as a key figure of change amid the backdrop of the Black Lives Matter movement; even Martin Luther King’s daughter tweeted her thoughts:


The ad was quickly pulled, and Pepsi issued an apology. Forcing a marketing agenda into a delicate conversation is never a good idea, no matter how good your intentions.

Timing is also an influential factor in the success of a trendjack. Good news if your brand comes across a trend that aligns with your audience but what happens if that trend is six months old? Trendjacking isn’t for the brands that turn up a day late to the party, you need to act fast or fall flat. American fast-food joint, Wendy’s, wittily responded after IHOP briefly changed to ‘IHOB’ to promote their new burgers:


Wendy’s Twitter account was quick to get involved in the buzz IHOP had created through personality-driven copy and community engagement. Had Wendy’s waited a couple of months after the initial buzz, they’d have lost that engaging, relevant factor.

Brand’s jumping on trends can be a really fun, engaging way to communicate with core audiences and build online relationships. It solidifies your brand’s TOV and gives insight into who you are and what you stand for. To be successful at Trendjacking, it is paramount that we follow these core set of rules:

  1. Stay relevant to your brand and audience.
  2. Do your research!
  3. Timing is everything, don’t be late.
  4. Originality is key.

…And to avoid these mistakes:

  1. Pushing a marketing agenda through sensitive topics.
  2. Being late to the game.
  3. Jumping on all trends, no matter their relevance.
  4. Blending in.


About the author:

Millie McKenzie is the Social Media Manager at CreativeRace, heading up our organic social media function. Millie’s background is primarily in food & drink marketing, working with clients such as SKIPPY Peanut Butter, Leeds-based Mighty Drinks, and Very Lazy. Millie also runs a personal food-blog with over 10K followers.