Liz and Sandro talk through some of the pros and cons of incorporating pop culture into your marketing and give tips on how your brand can get the creativity flowing.

ep 354


Pros & Cons of Incorporating Pop Culture Into Your Marketing


Sandro Welcome back to Liz and Sandro’s Marketing Podcast. We are the podcast that helps companies and marketing departments control their business, their brand and get the word out. Today Liz is going to talk about the pros and cons of incorporating pop culture and current events into your marketing.

Liz That’s right. This isn’t a topic that we’ve covered solely in one episode. I feel like it’s come up sporadically throughout the course of our 350-plus episodes but we thought this would be a great topic to debate. The topic is courtesy of our good friend Jeff. Just so we’re all on the same page, I wanted to toss out several examples of what we’re referring to here. So, when Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris catches on fire you know, a major event that everyone was posting about on Instagram. When the power goes out at the Super Bowl and Oreos famously capitalizes on that in a tweet.

Sandro That was great.

Liz That was great. And finally when a celebrity dies and people give shout outs and tributes. So those are the kind of events that we’re referring to. They can quickly overtake your social media news feed. So let’s start with some pros. I think if you do some sort of social post tribute if you do it quickly if you do it appropriately, you definitely have the potential to generate some viral content. And I think as long as it is in line with your brand then I think, I think it can do very well. I know Sandro you do a lot of work for movie theaters.


Using Celebrity Deaths


Sandro Correct. And this is a treasure trove unfortunately of content for us when a famous person like Stan Lee passed away. We put up a great picture. I found, a) I had to dig through a bunch of photos of Stan Lee but I tried to find the most unique one, one that isn’t out there a lot. We found one of him talking to this little, little girl and signing her autograph and she was wearing a Thor t-shirt. You know, it was very cute. And we shared that and we looked up a great quote by Stan Lee, an inspirational quote. And all we tweeted was, and posted to Instagram was the photo and the quote.

Sandro You know, we didn’t mention any hashtags about our brand or about us or about selling tickets or anything. It just, it was all about him because he’s such an icon. So yeah, we definitely do that with… And those posts take off like crazy. Especially the more unique the photo is the more inspirational the quote is by that person, those posts definitely take off on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook too. We were surprised by the engagement with that. People have a connection to some of these actors.

Liz Yeah. So that’s a great example when it can work very well.

Sandro Absolutely. Yeah.


More Potential Pitfalls Than Wins


Liz Now what’s interesting about this is Sandro and I were jotting down notes and prepping for this episode. We actually have more cons than pros. So let’s get into some of the cons. If you do something in poor taste I think it can backfire and it can definitely hurt your brand. If something is overdone or if you’re not one of the first to do it, I think it can become old news. Now going back to the Notre Dame Cathedral fire I mentioned in my first example, by the end of the day my feed had been just filled with any and every photo of Notre Dame Cathedral. I was over it by then. So if your brand is posting about something 12 hours after the fact. Yeah, you know it, again it may be old news. It may not be worth it at that point.

Sandro You better have a unique take on it.

Liz Exactly. Yeah, yeah.

Sandro You’re right. You’re right. I saw every angle every nighttime, daytime, raining, sunny picture of Notre Dame Cathedral on my feed and I was kind of over it. One other challenge or con would be, a) it’s high maintenance. If your brand has a reputation of using these references, pop culture references or immediate news things, your customers may come to expect it and it’s putting the expectation on your content creator. If you’re a small business owner it’s just you. You may not have time to create all this content right away.

Liz Yeah it does seem that the brands that do that well are larger brands.

Sandro They have a team.

Liz Yeah, they have a team and they’re on staff and they can produce this type of content pretty much at any time.


Game of Thrones


Sandro Right. Like another big event that happened, current event, pop culture was the ending of Game of Thrones. And I watched Game of Thrones but I’ll be honest with you, I don’t remember what happened in Season 6 generally. So sometimes people were creating content that referenced season six and I was like, what? What was that all about? Even though I watched all Game of Thrones. So you need a team that is all about it, all about that. If you’re gonna create something like that, you better be up on your Game of Thrones stuff and I’m definitely not.

Sandro Something else you can also, going along with the Game of Thrones potentially, you could alienate some of your customers if your marketing seems like an inside joke. There are tons of people that did not watch or did not read Game of Thrones. Aren’t into it and that’s fine. So maybe your posts will be over their heads. They may not understand it, they’ll just scroll by it. They’ll feel like they’re out of the loop and may not be cool enough for your brand. So you gotta keep that in mind also.


Start Experimenting


Liz I think if you are a brand that wants to start experimenting with this type of content there are a couple of things to keep in mind. First and foremost I think you should give it a try, start experimenting. It may be just you, it may be you and maybe your marketing manager. That’s again, starting to create some content around pop culture, current events.

Liz Start producing this content, getting into a rhythm. It’s kind of like if you’re writing a novel you know, you should just always be chipping away at it. Writing X number of words a day. I think just challenge yourself to see what’s going on in the world and see if you can create some fun, interesting, pop culture-y content. Maybe you never even publish it to start but just to get into that routine and that kind of creative space, start there. I think Sandro I loved your suggestion of sharing it with a small group of people.

Sandro Yeah. If any of them kind of cringes. Like at this moment as we’re recording there is a big hurricane going on over the Bahamas.

Liz Oh yes.

Sandro Obviously, you don’t want to create any hurricane, horrible tragedy…

Liz That’s, that is a piece, yes. Storms, natural disasters. Yes, you can go at that again, with good intentions and it can kind of turn out in poor taste when it actually translates to a tweet or an Instagram post.


Use a Marketing Calendar


Sandro And one other, you can also have a marketing calendar. The content doesn’t have to be something that just happened immediately. Every year there’s Shark Week for the Discovery Channel. You can create some shark week posts that you use every year. That’s something you may want to think about. You look ahead and know Shark Week’s a month away or three weeks away with your marketing content calendar and maybe you’ll start thinking, hey, shark tacos are on the menu or I don’t know, something like that. So it doesn’t have to be things that are happening immediately. You can practice by thinking ahead.

Liz That’s a good point. Yeah. Are there, Halloween, Thanksgiving are there some funny, are there some funny meme type…

Sandro ‘Talk Like a Pirate Day’ is coming up, actually.

Liz Yeah, yeah. Are there some things that happen every year that you can again, flex your creative muscles around and just practice. And don’t feel like you have to do this for every single thing, every pop culture event that happens. Maybe something happened in the morning and you were in meetings all day and you’re finally circling around to something and it’s 4:00 or 5:00 in the afternoon. It’s OK to just let it go, let it pass. Tomorrow you’ll wake up and there’ll be something new going on in the world that again, you can try to create some fun, pop culture-y content around that. So don’t feel like you have to jump on every single thing that happens. I would be select-ful and mindful of what you actually choose to publish.


Know Who Your Target Market Is


Liz And my final tip would be, Sandro going back to your point of alienating the audience too, I think it really helps to know who your target market is and again be selective about what you choose to build some content around. Because if your audience yeah, if your target market doesn’t care about Game of Thrones, just because it’s the biggest thing on TV that week or that weekend doesn’t mean you have to to create content around it.

Sandro Yeah, one of our cinemas is mainly skewed towards classics or oldies or they do a lot of oldies stuff. And when Peter Fonda died recently we posted it there, we didn’t post it to the more trendy suburban movie theater. You know, we posted the Stan Lee one to that one but not the more classic, more independent cinema, artful cinema.

Liz Sure. That makes sense.


Easy Rider Fans Skew Older


Sandro Their audience skewed older at this independent cinema and they knew who Peter Fonda was. I barely know who Peter Fonda is to be honest with you. But they loved it.

Liz Jane Fonda’s father, right?

Sandro Yes, and he was in…

Liz He was in some pretty big movies.

Sandro The motorcycle one. Holy cow, I can’t believe it. He was in ‘Easy Rider’ with Dennis Hopper. A classic, a quintessential 1960s motorcycle road trip movie, buddy movie.

Liz I have not seen, yeah. I haven’t seen that one.

Sandro It’s you know, in people’s top 50 films of all time. It made motorcycles cool and tattoos cool and things like that. So yeah, so it trended, that audience at that independent cinema skews higher and older. And it was perfect for them. So know your audience just like you said.

Liz Know your audience, yeah. I think you probably do a little bit more, because you work for the theater you probably do more of this type of content than I do for clients. Now…


Use Twitter Trending Hashtags For Inspiration


Sandro I was gonna say, one last tip. If you’re looking, if you really are looking for something to create, go into Twitter, look at the top 10 trending subjects and you’re gonna see something, maybe a hashtag. Like this morning’s, the day we’re recording, the trending hashtag was #TheThingIMissMost. And I clicked on it just to see what people are sharing with #TheThingIMissMost, and 9 out of the 10 things were, “My Mom.” Everybody was posting about they miss their mom, you know. If you had something great to say about that hashtag, jump in and do it. But if you didn’t you can let it go. But if you’re looking for trending topics, something to talk about, Twitter’s Trending Topics is a great place to go.

Liz Question for you. Do you think there is a channel, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram that excels at pop culture and current event memes?

Sandro Definitely Twitter is probably the top.

Liz Yeah.

Sandro And then Instagram’s probably second.

Liz Yeah. I don’t see quite as much of it on Facebook.

Sandro Yeah. Or if I do I see it like three days later and then I’m like, what?

Liz You’re like, that’s old news at this point. But yeah, there are some really creative Twitter accounts that can just churn this stuff out. It’s great.


Happy Birthday Keanu Reeves


Sandro Yeah. We’re taking a quick look at the trends and today is Keanu Reeves’ birthday and he’s the number two trending thing around the country.

Liz So there you have it. Some pros and cons of incorporating pop culture into your marketing. I don’t think it’s easy but I would definitely encourage you to experiment with it and see where it goes.

Sandro Yeah, if you get it right, the highs can be very high. The feedback can be very high.

Liz Yeah.

Sandro Thanks for all this Liz. Great pros and cons, things to think about if you want to incorporate pop culture or current events into your marketing. If you have any questions or a topic you’d like us to cover, drop us a line, we’ll give you a shout out in our show and a link back from our website. You will find us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. We’re also on YouTube and you’ll find us whenever you find your favorite podcast. Thanks again for joining us. See you next time.