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The Shuffle: Let's Get Trending

13 Dec 2023
Read: 9 min
The Shuffle Ep. 04

Struggling to keep up with the latest digital trend? Worried about the authenticity of trendjacking? Digital & Social Consultant Sorcha Hornett reveals how brands can strengthen their reputations online by using trending content to their advantage.


The trend cycle in today’s digital landscape moves fast, so fast in fact it can be difficult to keep up. We’ve seen social media become an ever-evolving landscape, where trends emerge, capture our attention and then swiftly fade into obscurity, but this lifecycle of a trend is one that reflects the dynamic nature of online culture.

With the current shaky state of Twitter, or should I say X, and Instagram’s confusing algorithm, over recent years especially we’ve seen more trends live (and die) on TikTok. The platform gave way to a new format for creating and consuming content, yet it meant a lot of brands struggled to communicate with their younger audiences as many found it difficult to find their place on the app, and many still do. 

However, understanding the role trends play amongst the digital landscape and how they emerge has never been more important for brands, particularly when it comes to a social media strategy and how they can build the bridge between them and their Gen Z audiences.

Let’s bring it back to the basics. 

Viral or trending content is dependent on two key things:

  • Firstly, an emotional connection, think content that makes you laugh or feel sad – it needs to be something that elicits a reaction. 
  • Secondly, prolonged engagement, content needs to be something that encourages recurring engagement to feed virality. The more a user engages with a specific piece of content, the more frequently the algorithm is going to push it onto them.

It’s not surprising that brands want to hop on trends, particularly after seeing successes from the likes of Sheer Luxe and Marks & Spencer and the engagement that’s come with it. However, when looking to create content based on a trend it’s important to understand the trend and its impact. You need to be able to see the trend for what it could be… is it for increased engagement or building trust with your audience for example.

Virality also revolves around moving at speed so you give yourself the opportunity to insert yourself into the conversation and demonstrate relevance. 

Brands can often get caught up in the nuances of participating in a trend and can end up posting after the trend has passed us by – meaning all the resource but none of the effectiveness. It’s important to identify the right moment to act in a trend’s lifecycle, otherwise it can put off Gen Z audiences. 

Yet, even if you decide not to ride the trend wave, they can still add value just by keeping an ear and eye on them. Trends provide great insight into what the audiences you want to reach like to connect with and share so it’s always worth making sure you’re in the know.

Yet, ultimately, for a brand looking to “trendjack”, authenticity still reigns supreme. 

There’s no point participating in a trend if it means coming across as inauthentic as you’ll lose your connection with your audience. When looking to jump on a trend it’s important to consider your brand’s relevancy to it and how you can make it consistent with your other content, so it remains holistic. 

Brands need to consider what they’re bringing to the table because simply turning up and participating in a trend without additional thought can automatically switch off your audience.

In short, the lifecycle of a social media trend is nothing short of an intricate journey, but one that’s key for brands to understand so they can connect with Gen Z audiences. Trends will continue to shape what and who we engage with on social media, so it’s important to get it right if you are going to give jumping on them a go.




Looking for a steer?

If you want to discuss how you can take your digital and social strategy to the next level, get in touch.

Sorcha is a Digital & Social Consultant at Lansons, supporting consumer campaigns across traditional and social media, building on her previous expertise as a social media manager.

Sorcha hornett 3797
Sorcha Hornett
Digital & Social Consultant

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