What do Steve Guttenberg and Milli Vanilli have in common? If it were 1989, you might actually know what I’m talking about.
Pop culture is what’s collectively popular among the masses. Some names are always remembered while others fade into obscurity, and referencing the right people in the right way can be a great way to connect with your customers and community. However, it takes a little ingenuity to ensure your references are relevant to both your brand and the brand of the pop culture reference itself.
The trick is subtlety because, as Halle Berry’s recent crusade against the paparazzi reminded us, nobody actually likes the tabloids—we’re just fascinated by the stories. If you’re selling life insurance, filling your blog with Wu-Tang Clan lyrics won’t exactly inspire people to protect their necks—although we sure hope Rick from “The Walking Dead” remembered to purchase life insurance, as pre-existing zombie infections make it much more difficult to get coverage.
When adding pop culture references to your blog, you want to be seen more as Time Warner than Perez Hilton. Here are a few tips to spice up your blog.
Stick to What You Know
There’s a certain age when pining after Selena Gomez isn’t OK. We can debate the exact age, but it’s safe to say this guy has reached the point of no return. And while Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” is a hot topic these days, that’s a topic best left alone if you’re unsure whether that’s the name of the character or the actress.
Instead of trying to find what’s cool, think back through your mental Rolodex of pop culture icons. Certain actors, celebrities, and artists resonate with you because you relate to them, and it only makes sense that your customers will relate to similar stories. Trust your instincts, and go with what you know. If you’re a John Wayne fan, you’re more likely to understand how his movies relate to your tractor than how Zac Efron’s would. By sticking to what you’re familiar with, your audience will see you as someone who’s in the know and will be more likely to hang out and make a purchase.
Timing Is Everything
Sooner is always better than later. As soon as you have a thought about something, assume someone else is having the same thought. The only way you’ll compete with that person is by starting now. The earlier you jump on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon, the cooler you’ll look for knowing first.
When an underdog team like the Phoenix Suns makes it to the playoffs, their core fans like to call out the bandwagon fans. The only way you’ll be able to prove you’re not a bandwagoner is by getting in early. If you’re a Suns fan, talk about them now—even when everyone’s expectations are low. That way, in five years when they’re good again, you can ride the coattails of their publicity by proudly declaring you supported them when they sucked.
Stay Classy, San Diego
Pop culture references are a great way to show your customers you’re hip, but be careful who you associate your company’s name with. Don’t do what everyone else is doing and jump down Lindsay Lohan’s or Lance Armstrong’s throat; nobody wants to be friends with a trash talker, and nobody will respect you for gossiping.
Stay true to your company’s core values while sprinkling in a little humor, and both you and your readers will have an excellent journey through time (like Bill and Ted), rather than sink like the Titanic.
Do you incorporate pop culture into your blog to pique readers’ interest? Why or why not?
Published: February 25, 2014