Situational marketing means referring to well-known events that are popular at the moment. First of all, situational materials work on brand awareness. Your reaction to a trend can go viral and attract new audiences.
Moreover, if you inscribe your product correctly and appropriately, the information trend can work to increase sales. The situational marketing difference is that it’s impossible to prepare it in advance. Or maybe possible? Let’s take a look.
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What causes a trend is something that has people’s strong emotional reactions, 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 social, political, brand, or personal event, post, speech, program, photo, or video. Remember: anything can become a trend today. Just think of IKEA sharks.
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.
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 reactions. It does not mean that you should copy the style of certain brands. Use this as an example of solving problems in math textbooks: observe how you can work with it, and you could develop a clearer understanding of mechanisms and your own style that matches your company image.
It is important to follow trends not only as a newsbreak for situational marketing but also for maintaining a reputation. Imagine that your partner publicly expresses a position that does not correspond to your company values. Then, you should declare the difference between your views and do it as soon as possible. The longer the audience waits for your answer, the bigger the negativity wave toward you grows. Thus, a willingness to respond to situational marketing will help save reputation through crisis communications.
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 is time-consuming and expensive. But one-time cases require speed reaction since their "shelf life" is short, and they 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, the Lunar eclipse, Easter, or Ukraine's victory at Eurovision. Changing the profile photo is not expensive and effectively attracts attention.
Some situational cases can still be predicted.
It snows in Kyiv, Warsaw, or New York every year. 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, and 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, Wesoła, or Brooklyn to deliver cheesecakes/flowers/food or winter tires to your favorite customers.
Pro Tip: 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.
Another predictable situational case is the release of a new movie or product that everyone is awaiting. It is hard to predict what will resonate in it (and whether it will). Therefore, it is not necessary to prepare something in advance.
You can stand on a low start and be "ready to create". So-called “situationals” can be predictable things that still resonate. Additionally, the usual newsbreak can acquire new details and a slightly different meaning. For example, sowing 2022 in Ukraine differs from the same period in previous years — as the russian invasion and the war changed the regular situation.
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, this event is primary on your calendar.
1. Create your own.
Your company can be a newsbreak source too. If something happens to your brand or employees that could provoke a reaction from society, tell followers about it. Pay attention to what is happening around your company. Try to evaluate them from the user's point of view.
It is an example of "passive" newsbreak creation — your team tells about an event that wasn't planned to increase brand trust.
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, and 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 us of it once again.
If you have found a client’s history that goes for a newsbreak, try to tell it on behalf of your company. Important: ensure to ask permission from the author/story hero. Even if the person posted the information publicly and tagged you, it would be good to thank and agree on rights.
3. Wedge into the stream.
If you see a trend that’s gaining momentum — pick it up! Look at what has already been done in this trend and try to invent something of your own. Your competitors have already posted their versions of a situational case, and you are the only one staying behind. If so, consider if your reaction to the trend will be strong enough to stand out from the competition. If not, leave it for internal team chats. Situational marketing is about a bright and fast emotion, not "whatever". You don't have to react to everything.
4. Become the discoverers.
It is challenging to become pioneers during trend development.
First, a potential trend needs to be found. To do this, use special services like Google Trends to see 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 know the buzz in a market, a country, or several countries. It also allows you to define the context in which a particular brand exists.
Thus, we keep track of trending topics:
Such analysis enables users to identify potential trends. Then, marketers can focus not on the boundless InfoSpace but on specific topics or events.