Whoa There, Cowboy: the Copywriter’s Guide to Bucking Trends.

We've all ridden the bandwagon at one time or another. But to create great copy, you have to stay ahead of trends—and be willing to break from them when need be.

Two Horses Rearing Up on the Plain
Source: Meg Chasin, via Stocksnap

We’ve all done it at some point in our lives. We’ve had our family and friends roll their eyes, scoff, and call us out for it. We’ve felt the shame, and soldiered on, resilient. At one time or other, we’ve all ridden the bandwagon.

Trends are catchy, and no one is immune. We deride a pop song one day, and find it lodged in our brain the next. We gravitate toward shiny objects, and let celebrities dictate our style. Or we try to avoid all that conformity, man, and just develop a mild coffee snobbery and a sudden love of organic produce instead. So be it.

Whether we care to admit it or not, our lives revolve around trends. But trends are fickle things—yesterday’s plucky upstart is tomorrow’s played out overdog, and the collective eye is already straying in another direction. Woe unto them that try to cash in on a fad that’s run its course.

That’s precisely why staying at the edge of trends and learning when to buck them to maintain an authoritative presence has become such a critical part of keeping audiences engaged.  Trickier still—maintaining a loyal base while creating content and copy that defies expectations, bucks trends, and always keeps a twinkle in its eye.

But timely and timeless don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So don your Stetsons, cowboys and cowgirls—we’re going trend wranglin’.

Trendspotting

Trends are a vestige of our cultural meaning-making processes. They point towards a certain hollowness at the heart of modern society, while simultaneously expressing a lighter, endearingly absurd side to our souls. How many funny YouTube videos have gone viral for no other reason than they defy meaning, logic, or sanity? We can’t explain why they make us cry laughing—sometimes we just need to be reminded how ridiculous the world is.

Our propensity to flock to the flavor of the month is exactly what makes us able to wrangle them as marketers. The trick is learning to look at them objectively. It might be daunting, but remember—this ain’t your first rodeo. Most of us have been influenced by trends since we learned to walk.

Trends aren’t hard to spot, but their ever-evolving nature makes them tricky to track. Google Trends, Trend Spottr, and Facebook Trending are great for diving into the continuous content cycle, offering up an accurate weather report of the social buzz. Remaining on top of what’s hot provides endless fodder and inspiration for new content marketing ideas, not to mention a glut of references that can inform your copy.

That’s not to say that all trends wield equal marketing potential. A celebrity pairing might be the ship that sails a million tweets, but may not be the most effective jumping off point for your content strategy. But spotting a topic that relates to your niche can drive traffic through timely references and specific keywords. Use hashtags on social media, tag others, and stay active in the comments to maintain your presence. Now you’re ready to ride like a pro.

The How and When of Optimal Trend Buckage

Trends are exciting when they first break, but it doesn’t take long for a pattern of predictable content to set in. Breaking that patterns keeps people engaged—and draws attention to your brand’s unique voice.

A broken trend is almost scandalous in its audacity. It demands to be talked about. Remix, mash up, subvert—do whatever it takes to throw expectations out the window and get people talking.

Ultimately, successful trend buckage comes down to two things that you can control: empathy and understanding for your customer, and a proactive, design-thinking approach to engineering and reverse-engineering for what’s happening at the moment.

 

Three Cattle Herders on Horseback
Source: Tobias Keller, https://unsplash.com/photos/ucdh5HMkRMg

Enter the Rodeo

You’ve lassoed your trend. Now you need people to see it.

More and more people search the internet via Siri, Cortana, and Google Now, and websites with generic keywords get lost in the shuffle.  Understanding your niche outside of the hornet’s nest of attention and trends will garner you greater authority, and establish your presence.

Remember to be very, very specific in what you’re using, and dig deep to turn what’s trending into valuable content that delights and moves your audience.

Maintaining a consistent voice while you’re playfully raging against the machine remains paramount. Consistency and tone must be rock solid and carefully considered. Remember, not all trending content will be in line with your company’s branding—like that ill-fated “Flock of Seagulls” haircut you thought was coming back in style, not everything that’s fleetingly hip is a good fit.

Keeping a pulse on the behemoth body of content that the internet churns out daily can be overwhelming. Need help? We can help you get your foot in the saddle with our DIY Blogging Course—or we can do it for you. Get in touch today to find out more.

Written by: Kevin Hermann

Samantha McLaren

Samantha McLaren

Having worked as a ghost tour guide for five years, Samantha knows how to get a reaction using only words. Hailing from bonny Scotland, she spent years gathering weird, eclectic experience (from laboratory assistant to radio DJ to Sunday school teacher) before finding her true calling–writing. She came to New York to see what MarketSmiths could teach her, and never left. Copywriter by day, amateur horror writer by night, she has a passion for words and is drawn to the strange and unusual.

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