Year after year, January rolls around and social media experts make their predictions and forecasts for annual upcoming social trends. This year saw the likes of AI, messenger bots, VR and heavily tech-focused trends make their way into the forecast headlines.
It seems however, that experts missed one vital social media trend, one that took the likes of Twitter and Instagram by storm. Shaping the social landscape for many users and brands alike, Love Island was the ITV2 creation that engulfed the entire popular-culture social scene this summer. Boasting significant popularity, this year’s Love Island series peaked at a mighty 2.1 million viewers compared to 2016’s 900,000 average. Love Island’s extreme popularity with the millennial generation opened up opportunities for both online and offline brands; opportunities that did not go missed.
Almost every evening, Twitter exploded with Love Island related tweets, people were engaging in real time conversation. #LoveIsland seemed to flood our mobile screens each night for the entire 7 week period the show was aired (whether you were a fan or not).
As Love Island’s popularity grew, we saw contestants accounts erupt with new followers and engagement. Love Island was incubating a dedicated and committed audience who were ready to engage at any moment (we even saw a Cash Hughes Twitter profile materialize, after that hilarious episode, racking up a whopping 60.5k followers – even more than his Dad!).
But, it wasn’t just ITV2 that benefited from the ever growing popularity of Love Island. Brands such as Missguided, Boohoo and In The Style all recognised Love Island as a bandwagon worth hitching a ride on (more on that later).
Love Island certainly isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but like it or not, there are definitely things we can learn from the brands that fully capitalised on its popularity: the brands that made the most of it.
Lesson #1: know your audience
Understand your audience, who they really are, what they like and what they get up to. Have your marketing team walk a mile in their shoes.
Recognise your audience are interested in more than just you; when you figure out what else makes them tick, get involved with this. Mould your products and services around their other interests. Providing unique, entertaining and engaging content of interest to your audience will help you secure a strong relationship all while indirectly marketing your brand.
Take New Look, Primark and Missguided as examples. They understand their predominantly young, female audience base is interested in more than just shopping. They recognise the wider world beyond their brand. These retailers tapped into the Love Island trend, identified the similarity in audiences and were brave enough to get involved.
And getting involved is exactly what they did. Missguided in particular created unique sharable content and even extended their marketing reach to email, advertising in-store events that allowed shoppers to meet and chat with stars of the show!
Lesson #2: be reactive
New Look, Primark and Missguided all designed and manufactured Love Island branded T-Shirts with some of this year’s hilarious yet popular catch phrases emblazoned upon them.
Designing and manufacturing these T-Shirts required a level of being reactive and present. These high street brands all proved they were aware of what else was going on in the world concerning emerging trends and quickly responded.
These brands proved that always having one eye on the ball and being prepared to switch things up at any given moment can be incredibly rewarding. Doing so will ensure your brand stays at the forefront of what’s popular, topical and engaging. Don’t be afraid to strategically stray from the path, it may do your brand a world of good.
Lesson #3: engage and converse
…and not just in office hours. By engaging and conversing with your audience and positioning yourself at the centre of popular online conversation, you are making yourself present and relatable. Being involved in real time affairs will encourage engagement and interaction from your audience.
Every evening for the duration of the series, brands such as Boohoo and In The Style engaged in Love Island conversation. Their social media teams understand that windows of opportunities extend beyond office hours. They are active when their audience is active. Demonstrating you share the same interests as your audience will help to solidify a legitimate relationship.
However, organic trends and hashtags cannot be contrived and often cannot be pre-meditated; they are reactive and occur naturally in the moment. So, it is important to leave some room for flexibility in your marketing plan.
Lesson #4: leave your audience wanting more
It’s a busy world out there and digestible content is key. ITV2 released a two-minute preview snippet on Love Island’s Facebook page and app (with push notification) every early afternoon for the duration of the show. This short clip was enough to peak interest, to get people talking and wanting more.
Using social channels in your marketing strategy to build hype and excitement around your brand leaves your audience in anticipation. The more they feel they are getting from you and the ‘longer the wait’, so to speak, the more they will want it. Building suspense can often make your product or service feel exclusive.
Over the past 7 weeks we have seen brands feel so strongly about the connection Love Island was having with its audience, they worked it into their marketing strategies. Love Island was the major 2017 trend that experts could have, but didn’t predict to be so incredibly popular, and become a brand in its own right. However, it’s clear that good marketing, both from ITV2 and the brands that jumped on board, along with real time responsive behaviour, helped add to the hype and excitement.
So, sometimes the future is not all about snazzy and expensive tech, AR, AI and messenger bots. Sometimes all it takes for great marketing is the use of traditional and organic methods such as being reactive, understanding your audience and knowing what they’re interested in.
The original version of this article featured on www.marketingisland.co.uk