Social media has created a society largely driven by “meme culture” and trends. The Snapchat hotdog, for instance, has recently been seen all over most social media platforms and has in turn led to large usage statistics for the video overlay.

Viral trends make consumers want to pay and engage with the content. This interest is any entrepreneur’s dream, as trends make it easy for businesses to boost sales as much as possible and get the largest bang for their buck on campaigns.

Yet, leveraging trends is not an easy task, since it requires both standing out from existing content and fitting into the trend itself. As businesspeople continue to analyze social media usage and data on evolving consumer preferences, one of the most important skills to learn is how to identify and leverage trends.

After talking to a number of entrepreneurs, Elie Neufeld, the founder of DHTK, had the most impressive insight on building a business through trends. He owns the trademark for DHTK and related acronyms around the phrase “Don’t Hate the King,” which grew as a viral trend for Lebron James.

His ability to spot trends before they take off has led to meetings with Nike and a deal with Daymond John. Through his experiences, he has learned these crucial components of utilizing trends for business:

Improve on current trends

It is not enough to copy a trend. Thinking back to the consumer “use case” of watching content on social media, brands need to stick out from other content and win the trend, not just be a part of it.  Spotting a trend lets you see an opportunity for growth, but the value is in developing content or a product that is more desirable than any other thing in the trend.

As you brainstorm what will stick out to viewers and consumers, try to figure out why the trend exists.  Supreme reigns as the top streetwear brand, because it first sold the lifestyle of New York skate culture and balanced supply and demand for the products. However, the next great streetwear brand will not be another Supreme, but rather an iteration that appeals to consumers in the same way Supreme does.

Identify unique growth opportunities

Trends can come in a variety of forms, such as short-powerful memes, long-term lifestyles, or even content trends.  Each of these can offer businesses a variety of opportunities and, if executed correctly, can be lucrative.

Particularly with content trends, businesses are able to utilize trendy content campaigns they know consumers enjoy.  For example, giveaways have become great opportunities, since consumers are familiar with the process and for a low price can drive large brand awareness.

DHTK partnered with the famous sneaker customizer Daniel Mache to give away a pair of Lebron James sneakers. People submitted their names by following and engaging with their Instagram.

The campaign created huge traction and growth for the brand’s page at a much lower cost than traditional marketing. Furthermore, often times, brands can work with influencers or other brands to encourage each audience to follow both and engage with both in order to receive a product. This allows both channels to grow together and share the cost of the giveaway.

Align with viral influencers

Since consumers enjoy following personalities, influencers have remained one of the biggest trends on social media. Influencers come in and going out of style at slower rates.  If brands align with influencers, they can receive brand benefits, without even necessarily paying the influencer for an endorsement.

DHTK has developed a variety of viral product lines that align with Lebron James, Michael Jordan, and Stephen Curry, as well as the lifestyles each embodies.

However, since the product lines merely align with the influencer and are not explicitly associated with them, DHTK did not have to pay the astronomical fees influencers usually charge.  In this fashion, brands ought to look at how they can tailor their products and campaigns around influencers and reach their specific audiences.

Trends offer unique insight into the common interests and beliefs of specific demographics.  As businesses look to take off, figuring out what trends appeal to their target demographic will help them spot opportunities for product development and brand building.

From there, it is a matter of correctly creating value, leveraging growth opportunities, and aligning with long term audiences in order to correctly utilize trends for successful business practice.

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July 16, 2017 at 11:35AM