Every day, there are trending topics on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and whatnot. Some fade within hours, some last a bit longer, and some make it to weeks, or even months. To name just a few examples of the latter, think Gangnam Style, the Ice Bucket Challenge, and the Harlem Shake.
When such a hype presents, the big question is:
Should you jump on that hype?
It may be tempting if you have a blog, to draw some extra traffic by using a hype that’s already there. Or in your church or youth ministry, create an event that build on something that’s hot. But should you? Here are three questions to help you decide:
1. Does the hype in itself fit your core message?
The very first thing to ask yourself is if the hype or trend is about something you want to be identified with. The Ice Bucket Challenge for instance was pretty easy in that sense, since it was for a good cause. Still, many people decided against it for various reasons like wasting water, wanting to donate to a different charity, etc.
Make sure you know what the hype is about and if it fits the core message of your church or organization.
2. Does it add value?
If you jump on a hype once a year with your blog, no one will blame you for it. If you do it constantly, it’s an entire different matter.
The key question is:
Can you add value while using the trend?
I wrote about the Jerry Sandusky scandal for instance on my blog when that went down, because I approached it from a youth ministry point of view. That was added value for my readers, all youth leaders. But in many cases, the honest truth is that you really don’t have much to add to what’s already been said. In that case, don’t do it.
It’s the same with events. Sure, especially in youth ministry it’s perfectly legit to do something just because it’s fun. Every now and then. So jumping on a hype and creating a fun event out of it, that’s fine. We’ve done the Harlem Shake with our youth group, yessiree! But it’s even better if you can add value. One example from a while back that comes to mind is a youth service we once did with ‘The Return of the King’ as theme, right around the time that movie was released on DVD. We used video clips from the movie for our message about the return of the real King, Jesus. It was using a hype, but with added value.
3. Are you still on time?
The thing about hypes and trends, is that they can be gone in an instant. And being that person, that organization, that church that jumps on something that’s already faded, ouch. That’s just sad. So make sure you’re not behind the curve and that whatever you’re doing hasn’t completely saturated the social media yet.
One last thing to keep in mind. Hypes don’t last by definition, and people have a very short memory. Three years from now, nobody will know about Gangnam Style anymore, making any effort you put into that hilarious movie doing that crazy dance a colossal waste of time in the long run. Nobody will watch it anymore. Jumping on hypes only pays off in the short run, with a boost in traffic, or some extra attendance. If you can’t make those extra visitors stay and come back, there’s no long term pay off. So don’t just jump on a hype, jump with a long term strategy in mind.