How to Capitalise on Viral Trends
February 2020

By Natasha Michelmore


Last month, country singer Dolly Parton shared four pictures portraying herself on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Tinder…and social media went crazy.

The post, which became known as the “Dolly Parton Challenge”, inspired millions of users, and a host of brands, to share their own versions of the post.

In the current world of restricted organic reach, such viral marketing trends can be  a godsend for brands looking to gain free impressions, show their human side and engage with customers in a deeper, more emotional way, especially when the execution is clever, fits in with the existing content strategy and is quick off the mark.

However, in the case of the “Dolly Parton Challenge”, we saw many brands completely miss the mark. In the below, we’ve highlighted a good and bad example.


The Good Example

For fashion retailer Zalando, the trend was a match made in heaven. The four images Zalando shared for each platform were easy for their audience to understand; smartly dressed for LinkedIn, causal for Facebook, hipster for Instagram and sexy for Tinder – which coincidently displayed the retailer’s depth of range to its customer base.


The Bad Example 

Nissan, on the other hand, attempted to make the trend work for its brand, but failed miserably due to the fact it didn’t align each photo properly with the platform, leaving its followers at best confused to its intentions, and worst concerned that the car manufacturer is out of touch with wider, global trends.

In summary, “The Dolly Parton Challenge” and other viral marketing trends are great to tap into and capitalise on if they align with a brand and are executed quickly, but worth steering clear of if there is a hint it they are misaligned and potentially damaging in the long term.

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