As content marketers, we are all continually on the quest to create viral, buzzworthy content that drives traffic and engagement.

But crafting such content is easier said than done!

And this is especially true for businesses in industries where viral topics are hard to come by. What’s a local carpet cleaning business or pest control service to do in order to stand apart from the competition when it comes to their content or social media strategies?

Enter the world of piggyback marketing.

What is Piggyback Marketing?

Piggyback marketing involves using the popularity of another brand or trend in order to give your own marketing efforts a boost. Piggybacking happens all the time in modern marketing. It’s almost an art form in and of itself. Marketers today are constantly looking for creative ways to take current events and trends and make them their own.

While the principles of piggyback marketing are not new, the evolution of content marketing and social media have made such marketing the norm.

There are three major benefits of piggyback marketing:

  1. Piggybacking can take many shapes and forms, from listicles and memes to tweets and viral videos. In other words, you can give your content strategy a break from the traditional 500-word, keyword-stuffed article.
  2. Readers and followers love topical content, as it shows that your brand is alive and well. Likewise, such content is a great way to let your business show its personality.
  3. Piggybacking is a great way to bring attention to your business as you target trends to send more social traffic to your site.

Piggyback marketing is a relatively easy way to breathe life into your content. However, doing it right requires some special care and creativity.

How Does Piggyback Marketing Affect My SEO?

Even the most “boring” of brands can piggyback just about any trend or topic with a bit of creativity. But the question remains: what does this mean for my SEO efforts?

In short, piggybacking allows you to…

  • Grow your social presence and following, which will, in turn, drive more traffic to your website
  • Potentially build a larger, more dedicated readership for your blog; such readers are more likely to convert in the future
  • Build positive SEO signals to your site, such as targeting relevant keywords within your piggybacking efforts or building links through buzzworthy content

Viral, topical content represents an active brand; likewise, sharable content boosts SEO signals for your website. Your audience is hungry for new, relevant content rather than the same rehashed and recycled articles. By going out of your way to piggyback current events, you can set yourself apart from your competitors and build a stronger search engine presence.

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Examples of Piggyback Marketing Done Right

By looking at the 12 following examples of piggyback marketing done right, you can understand how to best use piggybacking to drive traffic and attention to your own business.

Newsjacking

Perhaps the most popular form of piggybacking, newsjacking involves using popular or breaking headlines as a means of giving your business a boost. This almost seems like a no-brainer, right? If everyone’s talking about something, why shouldn’t my business get in on it as well?

For example, many brands jump on the newsjacking bandwagon every Oscar season, as the public is buzzing over who got snubbed and who wore it better. Here’s an example of Charmin capitalizing on the red carpet hype by getting creative on Twitter:

Charmin toilet paper piggybacks on the Oscars

Charmin’s tweet shows that just about any product has newsjacking potential (yes, even toilet paper).

A couple of years ago, Australian telecommunications giant Optus came under heavy fire when an iPhone error and time-zone glitch caused the alarms of many Optus customers’ phones to trigger an hour earlier that set. In response they posted this status update on their Facebook page. Although not everyone took the company up on the offer, many were impressed by their thoughtfulness. It was a very appropriate and timely response, given the nature of the situation.

The potential drawbacks of newsjacking rear their head when businesses try to capitalize on stories which may be seen as controversial, or perhaps even in poor taste (such as American Apparel’s “Hurricane Sandy Sale” in 2012).

While trying to make light of a serious issue is bound to fail, doing the opposite can often work. Case in point is The Salvation Army in South Africa and their take on the dress viral phenomenon. They took an interesting, though lighthearted meme and used it as a way to amplify their message about abuse against women. It was a bold move that worked well in their favor.

Although it may be tempting to play with the buzz surrounding the current political drama in your next Facebook post or blog, doing so has the potential to alienate or turn off a good chunk of your readers or followers.

On the other hand, some brands embrace controversy as fuel for their marketing efforts. Consider the recent example from Royal Jordanian Airlines. On the morning of US Election Day 2016, Royal Jordanian posted this tweet, capitalizing on Donald Trump’s threats to ban certain immigrants to the US. A sensitive subject, the airline managed to pull it off with a manner of finesse.

David Meerman Scott, the man who coined the term “newsjacking” published “The Best Marketer Has Been Elected President” the day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. A timely post relating David’s content to a current popular news item. What better example could you have of newsjacking?

There are potential piggybacking opportunities out there every single day, so don’t feel pressured to capitalize on a story where your marketing efforts aren’t a strong fit.

Harnessing Hashtags and Viral Trends

The recent explosion of Pokemon Go is taking social media and the blogosphere by storm. So it’s no surprise that marketers in just about every industry are jumping on any opportunity to capitalize on the app’s popularity.

For example, here’s how automotive repair chain Service King looked to catch the attention of those trying to “catch them all:”

Piggyback advertising with Pokemon Go

While Service King may be a brick-and-mortar business, the same rules of marketing can be applied to your own business online. Although viral trends often have a relatively short shelf-life (remember the “planking” fad?), they do have the potential to get your business seen on a larger stage. In what other situation would a brand such as Service King be getting national attention for their marketing strategy?

Harnessing the power of hashtags and viral trends requires similar care and attention to that of newsjacking. That is, you need to understand the context of the trend and avoid anything potentially touchy.

So, how exactly do you find trends on which to piggyback?

  • Keep a close eye on trending topics on Twitter alongside Facebook trends to understand what’s got the social sphere buzzing
  • Check out what your own followers are talking about online to understand if there any threads between current trends and their comments

At CanIRank, we recently helped one of our clients increase their social media following from less than 200 to over 4,000 followers in just four days using an Amazon Giveaway and taking advantage of the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag.

Often the key to harnessing hashtags and viral trends lies in providing something that is timely, relevant, visually appealing and funny. Lego’s Instagram post during the 2016 Oscars is a prime example. It garnered the company over 46,000 likes and enormous positive brand exposure.

Yay Leo! ? #oscars2016 #leonardodicaprio #leowins

A photo posted by LEGO (@lego) on

Piggybacking on trends isn’t rocket science. Treat it as an opportunity to have some fun with your marketing!

Memes

The need for visual content is apparent with the rise of meme marketing. On a similar note, Hubspot notes the need for images within our content marketing strategy. Images lead to more social shares, more time spent on the page and more engagement with our content.

piggy back marketing on a popular HBO show with SEO meme

Insurance is boring, as anyone not in the industry will attest. Marco Polo, the game played by millions of kids, on the other hand, is enormously fun. Putting both together into this 30-second commercial is a stroke of genius, garnering nearly a million views on YouTube.

 

Beyond the importance of images, users love brands with a sense of humor. Whether integrating them into your articles or using them as standalone posts, memes represent a lighthearted yet memorable means of piggybacking.

As Seen on TV

The boom of platforms such as Netflix, combined with our current binge-watching culture, has merged the worlds of our favorite television programs with our marketing efforts.

Whether making reference to the season finale of House of Cards or the outcome of the 108-year drought-breaking outcome of the World Series, there are seemingly endless opportunities to make our content more entertaining. For example, check out Hootsuite’s take on the Game of Thrones intro which combines the world of social media with arguably the most popular show out there today.

 

This last example of Evian Roller Babies fits better into the “as heard on radio category since it capitalizes on a well-known rap song. It’s funny, unique and universally appealing having been viewed over 85 million times. It’s arguably more popular than Rappers Delight, The Sugar Hill Gang’s 1979 hit song used as the soundtrack for this video.

In Conclusion

A word of caution when attempting piggyback marketing- it can backfire if you attempt to take it too far, or piggyback on an event that’s too controversial (just ask Pepsi and Kendall Jenner).  Make sure your piggyback post is on brand and tasteful in addition to hilarious and timely.  Now that you’ve been inspired, go ahead and browse Reddit at work to catch the latest internet trends, just tell your boss it’ll help your SEO!