Time Magazine recently published an article about Pantone unveiling its new Color of the Year for 2015. Author Tynan Sinks claims boredom over the manufactured trend, arguing that anything truly trendy, happens organically:
People see something, respond to it, and incorporate it into their own lives. Like, I don't know,dark lipsticks, messy fishtail braids, or literally anything on Pinterest. All of that caught on because that stuff is cute. No one just decided on those certain things and handed them down to us.
It got me thinking. As content marketers, our goal is to authentically connect and engage with consumers. By trying to set the trends, are we manufacturing experiences? Shouldn't we be letting our online audiences organically set trends themselves? It's our job to monitor their experiences with our products, with other products, and then use that to create better, more relevant experiences for them, not us. Otherwise, it feels a bit lazy. Impersonal, even.
With that in mind, here are the most basic steps you can take to help you organically follow / piggyback off trends that may already be bubbling under the surface. It's as simple as:
Listening - There's no better way to understand your target audience than by simply listening to the audience you already have. Open up the floor for them to communicate what they've been doing, how they've been using your product, and what they'd like to see from you in the future. Considering them members of your product development team will create an organic flow of everlasting feedback. Things you can do:
Email nurturing campaigns
FAQ page response monitoring
Watching - What are your audiences doing online? Where are they spending time, who are they socializing with, why, and what about? Imagine all of the places they visited to learn more about your brand: your website, your social accounts, review sites, etc; searching for answers to the same questions. Take the same amount of time they've invested in learning about you, and invest it back in them. Places you can frequent:
Responding - Once you've done your listening, take that information and create personas. This will allow you to better monitor for those specific bubbling conversations that can be turned into action plans for a better product or service. Each place you frequent will house analytics for user demographics, locations, and even the interests of your audiences. Segment your audiences based on that data, and then you'll truly be able to recognize and respond to the dialogue taking place within each group.
According to Pantone, Marsala is the color you'll be seeing at all of this year's holiday parties and beyond. And while Pantone won't be profiting from the purchases of those dresses, the buzz certainly doesn't hurt. But for the rest of us, when it comes to driving business forward, we need to focus less on trying to set the trends and more on getting ahead of the curve of what our audiences are already talking about, wishing for, and interacting with. All you have to do is keep your finger on the pulse.