How Brands Can Make the Most of Microtrends

Flat vector hashtag big symbol with guys and women follow the trend

Be more productive for the rest of the week by doing the bare minimum on Mondays. Manifest being lucky,and you will be. Post a dump of less-than-perfect pictures on Instagram every day to practice gratitude.

Whether it’s satirical commentary on the way we live and work, a wellness trend or food hack, even a shift in how we use and engage with social media itself, these ‘microtrends’ are one way to understand, unpack and predict public sentiment and consumer behavior, at least among a certain demographic.

These are social trends on hyper-speed. They come into the trend cycle quickly and leave even faster. The three mentioned above all became a ‘thing’ in February alone (and most likely will have moved on well before summer).

They follow a pattern similar to trends of old, with a trajectory that sees a sharp rise in popularity before the inevitable obsolescence. But instead of taking years, this now takes days or weeks.

When it comes to fashion, these microtrends have been accused of fueling over-consumption. They have certainly contributed to the exponential growth of ultra fast fashion brand SHEIN, which is able to put designs on its website immediately for microtrend-hungry consumers.

The Influence of Microtrends

Micro-trends are given rocket-fuel by influencers, who capitalize on these trending topics to boost engagement and secure sponsorship opportunities, which is why the latest craze of “deinfluencing” has ruffled so many feathers. Unlike other trends, this took aim specifically at the concept of social influence itself.

It’s unlikely that this is an existential moment for the business of influence but as with all microtrends it does point toward a shift in online behavior that is increasingly rewarding authenticity, anti-consumerism and ‘realness.’

Given the turbulence going on around us, phrases passed off as trends actually resonate with consumers as a way to make sense of the current state of the world and find solidarity in shared experiences.

So, with all the hype associated with microtrends, how much attention should brands be paying and how can impact-led companies make the most of them with some integrity?

As with all communications, this comes down to values-alignment. It’s no doubt that if you’re a consumer brand, then staying ahead of these trends can power your social and PR strategy, but only if you maintain relevancy and add value. Indeed, some brands' entire social strategy is built on jumping on these trends and adding a smart response or comic twist.

For impact-led companies, these moments can provide a powerful platform to bring your brand mission to life.

Tips to make the most of microtrends:

  • Stay Aware: constantly be aware of SEO and stay one step ahead of the latest hashtags that can be used for social and PR
  • Think Fast: microtrends can move quickly, and if you’re one of the early adopters, you’ll be preferred by the algorithm.
  • Be Picky: choose only those most relevant to your brand and messaging, so you’re targeting the right audience. Dove nailed this recently with its rapid response to the Bold Glamour filter, using it to support its existing narrative around unrealistic beauty standards
  • Look to TikTok: that’s where most microtrends begin, and where you should be posting first
  • Recognize Short is Sweetest: microtrend content doesn’t need to be overproduced or take hours to create. Think real, snappy and authentic

Nicole Green is co-founder of Catch, a B Corp communications agency that recently launched IMPACT for mission-led startup businesses.