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  • Josh Graham

Can annual challenges save your social strategy?

Let’s get one thing clear. Trends - as a concept - will never truly die, but even so, we can’t deny that we are seeing the beginnings of a post-trend world. When we look at the use of trends in a traditional sense, they just can’t and don’t pop like they used to.

One of the main reasons we’ll be seeing this is down to people having more choices than ever; more TV channels, more streaming platforms, more games, more radio stations, more books, more hobbies, more access to music and of course more social media channels. This diversity of delivery, coupled with an increase in time spent consuming media, means we have less time for shared experience. Further to this, we are seeing more output on small niche experiences and hobbies, which the algorithms can take directly to those most likely to gives likes and comments and by-pass the irrelevant masses. We’ve seen the effects of this in fashion cycles, in language, everywhere.

That being said, a future where we’re so siloed that trends simply cease to exist is highly improbable, but the speed at which trends develop and the rate at which people want to see the next big thing presents a huge problem for marketers. It’s marketing 101 that if you can associate a brand with a seasonal trend e.g. Mariah Carey + Christmas, May the 4th + Star Wars, you’re onto a winner. For some of the bigger, more longstanding examples, this likely remains the case, but there are lots of attempts at this kind of association in rotation in 2023. Veganuary and Dry January are among the more sizeable, more recent monthly examples, and when it comes to awareness days, the list is practically endless. At Hydrogen, we had a hunch that the appeal of these sorts of campaigns was starting to decrease, at least in a marketing sense. So we looked into it.

Thanks to Brandwatch, we can see that this assumption was largely correct, as we see Veganuary mentions steeply decreasing yearly, with a 50% drop in total mentions since 2021. Dry January mentions have also decreased, albeit at a much slower rate of 27% overall. Why? Theories range from COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis (particularly due to the slight increase in Dry January as people return to pre-COVID social norms), to the simple fact that these activities are becoming increasingly normalised. After all, great marketing for the most part should have an element of newsworthiness built-in, and as more people are converted to a sober and/or vegans lifestyle (with the latter seeing a 40% increase between 2021 and 2022), the harder it is to galvanise would-be converts.

So, is there still merit in including these sorts of awareness campaigns in your social strategy? The answer depends on your industry.

For example, more healthcare practitioners discuss Veganuary on social than they do Dry January. Therefore, if your business targets this demographic, then it’s worth considering Veganuary content (staff participation, vegan products stocked, recipes, etc) as a part of your strategy.

We can also see a breakdown of the two by interest below. Users who discuss Dry January are more into sports, family and parenting, and books than Veganuary users, whose interests often include animals and pets, beauty, health and fitness, and food & drinks.

As we said, trends will always exist, and will always have some kind of place within social strategy, but it’s evident that not just any trend or awareness month or day will cut it - now more than ever. Not only this but how and what is being said of them also plays a part.

If we take into account this breakdown of tone of voice on these subjects, we see emerging emotions for Dry January content include sadness and anger. For this reason, a sensitive, considerate approach may be most suitable. For Veganuary, we can see that the emotions discussed in the content here are joy and disgust. These juxtaposed emotions show that the users who discuss Veganuary seek pleasure from the experience, trying new foods and restaurants, while others led with the environmental and ethical benefits of Veganuary, sharing hard-hitting facts to convert others.

While we see these small changes occurring over the last couple of years, it will be fascinating to see where these trends will lie in five, or even ten years from now. With trends beholden to the social circumstances in which they exist, will Veganuary see gains as climate crisis becomes a more pressing issue in our day-to-day lives? Will Dry January continue to see gains as the cost of living crisis pushes us toward a further aged population? Whatever happens, we’ll keep you posted!

If you can’t wait for our next update and would like a personalised insights report within your industry to get ahead of the trends, then visit our contact us page and drop us a line.


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