Making Social Content “Trendy”
The key to sparking social media engagement are trends. We, as consumers, are driven by what others are doing — we are group-oriented and therefore act as a group. We are interested in what others are interested and gravitate towards content that has already been deemed interesting by others.
So how do we create “trendy” content on social media?
First, it is important to understand how consumers cognitively process information. The Elaboration Likelihood Model explains that we, as people, can process information two different ways: centrally, where we evaluate content in a rational manner, or peripherally, where we rely on peripheral cues such as the style of the message, the credibility of the source, and our own mood (Individual Perspective on Mass Communication Theory.) This is why it is important in social media content creation that brands design their content to look “trendy”. You can do this a few different ways:
- Make you content sound exciting, like it’s news the audience has to read right THEN. Consumers are also motivated to make entertainment choices that will help them to diminish negative moods or enhance good moods (Mood Management Via the Digital Jukebox.)
- Make the design appealing, usually with short sentences that stray away from lengthy posts. If readers see content that looks like it will take a while to read, they won’t even start.
- Visuals are key! Photos, videos, and especially GIF’s, are great! This will catch the reader’s eye before a group of text will. GIF’s are also “trendy” right now, so using them in your posts will draw the audience to the post because they are already on the look out for those!
Consumers are also very purpose-driven. It is easy for social media users to mindlessly scroll through a platform and not really pay attention to what they are seeing. To combat this, call-to-actions can be a significant help for brands trying to increase engagement. Asking a question, encouraging a response from the readers, makes them stop their mindless scrolling, focus on what you’re asking, and engage with the brand by responding.
Here is an example from a brand known for providing news to theme park fans through social media — Attractions Magazine. Their posts on Instagram average about 200–300 likes with a few comments. In the second post, there was a call-to-action given, asking about the color change in the signs around Walt Disney World Resort property. They made what could have been a little thing turn into big news, giving readers the platform to voice their opinions one way or another. This made the post significantly more successful in generating engagement than the other post that just simply shared information.
Finally, credibility is crucial for persuasion to be successful in social media. Because we are group-oriented people, we trust content that comes from brands that we trust and that align with our beliefs/opinions. This is part of the Elaboration Likelihood Model — the idea that we listen to posts from brands that have already established credibility with us. Part of how we do this, and stay trendy, is by sharing or retweeting posts from brands similar to ours — especially those that have already built their own rapport with consumers.
For example, Sprout Social explains that “promoting other brands from your followers is a great content idea that shows that you’re part of your industry’s conversation.” They even gave an example, shown below, where they shared a quiz from another brand, because it was relevant with their content and therefore trendy enough to reshare.
Brand persuasion on social media is all about being trendy. Make your content short and sweet, but equally as exciting and engaging. Collaborate with other brands that have similar platforms, and use each other grow and spark engagement. Ask questions, encourage your audience to engage, call them to action so they have purpose in participating in the conversation. We are a group-oriented people, so trendiness is the move!