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Podcast Pit Stop: Brian Honigman on How to Approach Trends on Social Media for Your Business

How to Approach Trends on Social Media for Your Business

In episode 78 of Pit Stops to Podium, we sit down with Brian Honigman, a Marketing Strategy Consultant at Honigman Media, a Philadelphia-based marketing consultant, and an adjunct professor at Kellogg and UFM. With his extensive experience in the industry, we delve into the world of social media trends and how businesses can effectively approach them.

During our conversation, we explore the importance of staying ahead of the curve in social media. Brian shares insights on leveraging owned media platforms to establish expertise and expand influence. We also dive into the power of social media data analysis and how it can be used to increase your following. Additionally, we discuss strategies to break through the noise in marketing and make a lasting impact in a crowded digital landscape.

If you’re ready to learn from one of the best, then buckle up and hold on!


Pitstop Highlights

Investing Time and Resources in Social Media

Consumer attention will always shift from one social media platform to another.  The big three right now are TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

A good way to "break through the noise" and gain followers and attention is to participate in trends (example:  challenges on TikTok), while being careful not to become overly reliant on them.

"See which trends are happening...and pinpoint what's relevant to your organization"

B2B Marketing Trends on LinkedIn

There are fewer trends for B2B as it tends to have a more serious and professional nature.  A good idea is to pay close attention to the conversations trending on LinkedIn and attempt to to join the discussion with your unique perspective.

"The same principles apply (as in B2C) just takes a little more effort because there are fewer trends to pick have to get a little more creative in some ways."

Tips to Establishing Your Brand's Distinctive Voice

There are a lot more opportunities on LinkedIn than there are on more saturated platforms, such as Instagram.

One good tip is figuring out how your company can leverage and provide commentary to the bevy of congratulatory and work anniversary posts. 

Also, there are a lot of opportunities for brands to partner up with influencers and creators on LinkedIn in interesting, relevant ways.

"How do we discuss the familiar, but add our spin to it?"


Connect with Brian


LinkedIn Learning:

Full Transcript

Brendan:  Hey everyone. Welcome to Pit Stops to Podium, the RevPartners podcast where we talk to execs who competed and won in taking their companies from high growth to high scale. My name is Brendan Tolleson. I serve as the co-founder and CEO of RevPartners, annd I'm delighted to have with me today, Brian Honigman for this episode of Pit Stops to Podium. Welcome, Brian.

Brian:  It's a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.

Brendan:  I appreciate it. I pronounced your name probably 10 times before this, and hopefully I got it somewhat close.

Brian:  Got it perfect.

Brendan:  You know, it's the eight years of German I took for the Han, I was able to get that in there. So I appreciate that. For folks that may not be familiar with Brian, Brian, you serve as a marketing strategy consultant at Honigman Media. And I'd love to give you the opportunity to share a little bit about what your company does. But also the origin story, I think it's really important for our audience to have context of how do our guests get to where they're at? Because I think that gives you the platform to speak into some of these topics that we'll get into later in the show.

Brian:  Cool, yeah, so I'm a marketing consultant, primarily focused on helping companies with their marketing strategies. I work with all kinds of organizations of all sizes, but most often I support nonprofits, tech companies, and media brands in delivering results with their social media, content marketing, and then as broad as just their digital marketing efforts. Overall, those are probably the three key focuses. How do I actually provide support through consulting projects where I'm an outside partner helping them get to their desired goals? I do career coaching for marketers. I do professional trainings for companies and primarily just really build out their marketing strategies and deliver it in multiple formats. I'm really doing the same work whether I'm coaching, consulting, or training. It's just delivered in a different way. I also teach at a variety of universities and learning platforms like I'm an instructor for LinkedIn Learning. I'm a program leader for Kellogg Business School at Northwestern. So it's all marketing all the time. And I think what's unique about my approach as a business is that I have a really interesting purview into how marketing works across different verticals, different company sizes. for different marketing leaders, and I'm able to apply those lessons to many different circumstances. For example, working with a nonprofit, I can see some trend that they're focusing on that could possibly work for my corporate client, or I'm working with a government agency and I can help them act like a corporate entity with their use of XYZ channels. So that's been, over the years, I've kind of figured out as kind of what one of my sweet spots is. So this would be 10 years of self-employment as a consultant this year. A quick background, I worked at a variety of companies, an agency, a small magazine, a startup, I worked at the fashion conglomerate, now failed, Mark Ecko. And I just quickly, through doing marketing at all those different companies, I quickly grew impatient with the quote unquote typical corporate ladder, the leadership ladder, you have to climb to take on the kinds of projects and opportunities that you want. So after doing that for a few years, I kind of went off on my own and tried my own thing and it's been working ever since. This hasn't always worked smoothly or perfectly. It's a lot of bumps along the way. So for example, just, you know, not a bump, but I primarily started off as a freelance writer writing about marketing. And slowly... pivoted to fully into the consulting, coaching, and teaching work. So it's looked pretty different over the 10 years, but I wouldn't take it back for anything. It's been really rewarding.

Brendan:  Sounds great. Well, you know, good for you for kind of finding that path as a, I'm sure at the time was a solo entrepreneur or solo, I can never say that word, solo, solo, I still can't do it. But I think you know what I'm saying. So it's always,

Brian:  A solo business owner.

Brendan:  Yeah, there you go. It's always fun to hear the origin story and just the experience. And so you bring it depth as it relates to longevity, but also as you talked about experience and how you take best practices or principles that you are learning in one segment like nonprofit applying into for-profit and vice versa. I think it's always one of those fun things that those things are universally applicable. So it's interesting to see how that can be applied. So before we get into some of marketing because that's what your focus is, we do have a tradition here at Pit Stops to Podium, and that's to get to know. our guests outside of work. And I mean, you already mentioned one, not many of our guests are also adjunct professors. That's pretty cool. But what are those passions, hobbies, interests that our audience should know about you?

Brian:  Something kind of different from the typical marketing focus. One of my biggest interests is drag. Drag queens, kings, the whole drag culture. It's like one of the... When we first started talking, you asked me, I'm located in Philadelphia, and you're like, oh, do you follow Philly sports? Because we've had a good time with the Eagles and the Phillies recently. And I said, no, I don't. But the sport I follow basically is all things drag related. It's basically entertainers, trans, non-binary, queer entertainers doing all different kinds of comedy acts, lip syncing, cabaret, they're on Broadway now, singers. And it's a really interesting art form that I've been obsessed with for years and years. And honestly, there's a lot of marketing lessons I've learned from watching. It's kind of like the entertainment. If I had to put it in an industry, it's in the entertainment industry. My interest was sparked from the reality TV show RuPaul's Drag Race. Over the years, it's gotten more and more and more popular as drag culture has become more mainstream and less on the fringe. It's been interesting to see the contestants that go on this reality show and all the different things they've done to gain fame and work and gain popularity. get more deals, get Instagram brand deals, commercials, a movie deal, be part of a Broadway show, get their own music videos, whatever. And it's been interesting to watch this very unique subset of the entertainment space and what these individuals have done to market themselves. So that's always, I'm always thinking marketing all the time, typically more so the creative side of things. I'm not thinking about like, data and analytics related to marketing on my off time, but always paying attention to little trends you kind of pick up from your interests that don't necessarily relate to the traditional marketing strategy. So that's something that people that know me outside of professional life know that it's a big interest of mine.

Brendan:  That's great. Well, I appreciate you sharing a little bit about who you are and what you enjoy, what you're passionate about. I think it's always good to create that connection because we are human beings, not just human doers. And so it's always interesting. And to your point, like, it's hard not to take your lens from a professional perspective and apply it into the things you're passionate about. It's just natural for that to happen and the opportunities. So that's that's really cool. Well, let's get into a little bit about your expertise. And so, you know, we talked at the beginning about what you do. really having that creative marketing lens. And I think if you think about like dark funnel or just even kind of social and how people think through marketing, social is kind of that next frontier, right? And there are different distribution channels, but for a lot of our audience, we're trying to understand, how do I approach the trends with social media to grow my business? And so I think that would be a really relevant topic for our audience. And just as we kind of set that stage, just kind of the overarching meta narrative, when you think about social. What should our audience be aware of that says, hey, this is no longer just an interesting platform, but this is an area where I really need to invest my time and my dollars into.


Brian:  Yeah, totally. I mean, it's all social media in particular, I guess marketing in general, but with the social media hat on, we want to just pay attention to where the attention is shifting at any one moment. It's always going to shift between channel. It's not going to be TikTok and Instagram forever or YouTube. It's always going to evolve and change. Right now, a lot of attention or consumer attention is like on places like TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, probably the top three. why they are important channels to be on because people spend time there and there's lots of opportunities to educate, entertain, signal your values on these platforms. And one of the ways to kind of break through the noise and gain some viewership, especially from folks that may not know about your company or have it engage with you before is participating in trends. Trends are very popular on TikTok in particular, but trends on social media are patterns that, patterns and activity that either, consumers are participating in or a bunch of brands are participating in. And there's kind of a ongoing conversation around a particular trend. So for example, on TikTok, people will participate in trending challenges or use like trending filters or trending sounds. in all of their TikToks and there's opportunities for brands to participate in a relevant way that gives them a boost of visibility because this is where the conversation is. You add your kind of input to the conversation and ideally bring some people into your circle. I will say before going too much further is that I often think right now especially as very known as like an important focus for many organizations, especially social media wise, is that you don't want to be overly reliant on trends. A lot of businesses are like, okay, cool, this is the trend of the moment, let's hop on that one, and the next one, and the next one, and the next one. And that's the quickest way to like lose your perspective, lose like the focus on your goals as an organization and kind of blend in. So it can actually have the opposite effect. You just kind of blend in and seem like every other organization participating in XYZ trend. So my recommendation is to take a look at whatever the trend may be, you know, whether it's, you know, the Barbie movie was recently announced, the trailer for it, and they on Instagram released this like images of the different actors in the movie. and had their like this like Barbie emblem behind them and like name them like beach Barbie, swimmer Barbie, whatever. And because Barbie is an iconic American brand and because of this like framing of this Instagram content, so many just consumers copied this framework, this Instagram kind of template and would post like, I'm, you know, PR Barbie, I'm drag race fan Barbie or whatever it is and added their own kind of spin to it. So brands could decide to chime in or not as well. So basically, when you see a trend like that, you wanna say, does it make sense for us to chime in here? Is there something relevant to say? It doesn't always need to be something profound or quote unquote thought leadership, but it's like, is there an interesting way for us to participate here? Does it tie back to us in some capacity? How do we make it make sense for us? If the answer is no, it doesn't make sense or it's not relevant to our audience, then it's like, it's a total pass. But basically the best way to do it is to see what's trends are happening at any one point in time across the internet in general, but on a channel basis across social media and pinpoint what's relevant to your organization sparingly. You don't want to overdo it because you need to create your own content and start your own conversations too across social media and just like your marketing channels as well.

Brendan:  Yeah, it's kind of that whole proactive versus reactive. You don't want to miss out on the trends, but you also don't want to be reliant on the trends. You want to create the trend.  And I think for some of our audience, they may say, hey, that's great, Brian. That might work for the nonprofit or for B2C where you're dealing with individuals that are buying your product or donating to your cause. But for those B2B companies, does that same principle apply?

Brian:  Absolutely, I just think you have to try harder and think a little more critically. There's fewer trends to hop on because there's like a more kind of serious nature to B2B because we're trying to, again, we're still trying to reach people, but in a more professional scenario as opposed to driving attention to the Barbie movie or coffee brand, which is a lot more low key. I would say paying attention in particular when it comes to social media, paying attention to what conversations are trending on LinkedIn and saying, hmm, where do we have an opportunity here to join the discussion? So let's say there's a debate about salary transparency. If that's something that you particularly stand behind as an organization or you have salary transparency across your teams, perfect time to unless you, you know, just recently, you know, made, you know, a stance on the issue. It's a great time to join in and say, add your perspective. It's all about adding perspective, your unique perspective, and join the conversation because you have something to say. So honestly, the same principles apply. It's just thinking about where are you looking for trends, which ones are appropriate. And there's just, it takes a little bit more effort because there's fewer trends to kind of pick from in a sense. and you have to get a little bit more creative in some ways. I'm not saying B2C marketing is easy. B2C marketing can be really challenging, but sometimes it feels like kind of creatively there's more options to choose from and discussions to chime in on. So it's just about thinking about it a little bit differently. So my recommendation there would be to look at LinkedIn and see where you can hop in there.

Brendan:  I think it's great. I like that. I like how you have recommendations for each one of your ideas. That's good. Let's talk through. All right, so let's talk. Hey, I am listening to this. I am a, you've convinced me, I'm a believer that I need to focus on trends. And not, let's say I want to create, like I want to create that movement on a trend. All right, so how do you break through the noise? To your point, like, B2C or B2B, there's a lot of noise out there. And so how do you break through that noise to really have a differentiated message or tone, whatever it may be, entertainment, like education plus entertainment, like what have you seen be effective for those that are doing it well?

Brian:  Um, so, you know, before you even get to this point of like looking for trend and seeing where it tends to, where it makes sense to hop in or ignore, uh, or let it pass by, um, and, and not to, they don't even need to be, um, you know, crazy extensive per se, but just having a core set of values as an organization, some key tenants, if you will, like having a clear understanding of what your mission is besides making money and hiring people and employing people, which are completely valid reasons to exist as a business, but you need some other tangible reason why you exist in the market. And I'm glad to be clarifying that first, that's the lens in which you're able to say, is this trend to make sense for us or not? So going back to that LinkedIn example, it's like if you're a company that's really known for your employer brand, like you are really an advocate for quote unquote more liberal employment practices like salary transparency or... You offer all kinds of benefits for beyond the traditional best practices for benefits. Those can tie back that to me, it sounds like some of their key values of this company that they really want to be employee first and they're taking actions that match their marketing. So that's the key thing here is like having a core set of values and it doesn't have to be like hippie dippy or, you know. Super it doesn't always need to go back to like and protecting the environment or something like that But I just have to have some reason in which you know, why do you have a unique perspective in the market? That's the lens in which you pick these different Trends to communicate on real quick example Dove the brand dove which is like soaps and shampoos and what-have-you Over the last I don't know a decade. Maybe they've been really pushing like the focus on real beauty, finding inner beauty, not worrying about facades and all that, but focusing on women's self-esteem. And they've taken, and that's like the brand positioning of their soap and body care products versus the other 400 that are out there. And they've gone all the way in and taking action and messaging around the subject matter. And that's kind of one of their core value sets. and they do this with their own messaging that they're proactively putting out and they do this by reacting to trends and putting their spin on it. So two quick examples and then we'll be done with Dove, I promise. The first is there was that beauty filter on TikTok recently that was, you know, made you quote unquote more conventionally attractive by Western standards. That's basically what this little beauty filter on TikTok did. And there was a lot of discussion about it. It was trending, it was widely used. There was pushback about it. And Dove chimed in because they're talking about self-esteem and body image and all these subjects for years and years and years. And they chimed in and said, we disagree with these filters. We disagree with these TikTok or Snapchat lenses. We don't think they're productive. They make people feel about themselves. So they push back on a trend. And then similarly, they helped support legislation around social media and how it's impacting young people and people's self-esteem. So just trying to give you examples of kind of things that they're messaging and then also actively doing in the real world beyond just saying we care about this, but taking action to make some kind of change on the subject matter. So. long answer to, you just need to have some kind of perspective and value, values that you're building from, and then you know how to leverage trends effectively.

Brendan:  Yeah, I think what you're describing, like you need to have a lens by which informs what you engage, what do you say yes to and what you say no to. And the things that you say yes to become that platform by informing, then it kind of forms like, well, then you have to think through, okay, what, what are the tactics and strategies that I need to employ to create that um, awareness, that influence, whatever word you want to use to be relevant in that discussion.

Brian:  Totally. Yeah, it's all about relevancy. Like it wouldn't make sense if the very first thing Dove chimed in on was that beauty filter and they had no years and years and years of backstory on self-esteem. It would be like, okay, why do I care what a soap product says about my self-esteem? People still might feel that way today, even after years and years and years and years, but they've done that like preliminary legwork so that when they do chime in, it feels relevant and like purposeful, not just like... chiming in to get more views, you know, and that's never what we want to how we want to come across.

Brendan:  Well, I think that's a really interesting point that is relevant. When we talked earlier about there's relevancy regardless of, uh, whether you're B2C, B2B, non-profit, for-profit. Um, but there's this element and like take the dub example of, can, like you're, when by taking a product and then, you know, tying it to something like self-esteem there becomes an emotive connection, um, and it's goes much It goes much further beyond just associating it with soap. And so it's really powerful. It's a way to that whole influence concept and get people to buy into a brand and believe in the brand. Because to your point, I'm sure there are thousands of soaps out there. But Dove is a category leader, not just because of that, but certainly if you probably looked at their growth, there is a correlation, whether it's causation, but there's a correlation between the self-esteem initiative they rolled out and the growth they've had over the last 10 years.

Brian:  Yeah, totally. They were already a powerhouse. They don't know if they're Unilever or Procter & Gamble, one of the two giants. But this approach, which I don't know the exact year in which they started it, has helped them ensure they maintain relevancy. And especially in these conversation-based channels that have come to popularity, like social media over the last decade and change. because their previous marketing probably wouldn't work now in the same way. I'm sure they still do traditional, you know, our soap makes your hair smoother and all that kind of like the benefits focused stuff. But there needs to be more of a perspective. And I think that's a big takeaway there.

Brendan:  As we wrap up and think into the B2B lens, and you mentioned LinkedIn, you know, what's been interesting too is that I think there, you know, there's the, I think there's always like B2C is always ahead of B2B and you're starting to see B2B starting to realize, okay, we need to change our approach. And this whole concept of like a point of view and not just having stale, stagnant content. I think a lot of marketers should say, oh, LinkedIn is just a great way to post our like this becomes information and it's really white noise. And people really care about having that point of view. Is there any recommendations that you would give to folks that maybe LinkedIn is their platform and not a TikTok? They should really get TikTok on YouTube, but let's say they're not yet, like, hey, baby steps. Let's start with LinkedIn..

Brian:  Sure. So LinkedIn is still kind of, it's been around for a long time, but in terms of being utilized as a marketing platform that still feels wild, wild west, like there's a lot more opportunity than there are on very, than there is on very saturated platforms like Instagram and TikTok, again, because of that B2C push probably. And there's a lot of creators on those other platforms. Two things come to mind is... You know, as you mentioned, it's often a place where individuals post, I just got hired or I'm looking for a job or, you know, let's give congrats and kudos to someone that has overcome a career milestone. It's a lot of individuals. How can you adapt those common or, you know, the list is longer than that, but the common use cases of LinkedIn as a company and chime in with your own perspective. So like, there's always like congratulatory moments across LinkedIn with amongst individuals. How does a company leverage that? How does the company chime in and poke commentary on those moments we're all familiar with? And that's a big thing is commenting on the familiar habits of a social network, and in this case, LinkedIn, and having your own spin on it or commentary or pushback to common habits on a channel. For example, I'm starting to see of it for a long time, kind of how, you know, how there's a larger conversation around perfectionism on Instagram and how it's kind of harmful for the average person. I've seen that over the last few years spill out on it on to LinkedIn as well of like, my career is perfect. Like, look at all my accolades, not talking about the failures of the bumps along the way. I'm certainly playing into that as well. Sometimes I don't want to like who wants to quote unquote look bad. as a professional, there's a lot more value to, or a lot more risk on a channel like LinkedIn, but that could be an interesting vantage point for a company to provide commentary on from a marketing standpoint, talking about embracing failures or what have you. So again, like paying attention to the overarching like use cases and common happenstance on a network, and then how do we discuss the familiar, but add our spin to it. change the conversation or move it to the next logical step. And then unrelated to those, LinkedIn creators, I would say, are still way underutilized. There are hundreds, maybe thousands of folks on all different topics from graphic design to leadership that are regularly publishing on LinkedIn to large, engaged audiences interested in learning from them. And there's a lot of different opportunities for brands to partner up and get in front of those audiences in interesting ways and in relevant ways. Yeah, I think there's a real big untapped opportunity with LinkedIn creators for sure. And there's one for every professional topic under the sun at this point. Yeah, one, you know, more. Go ahead.

Brendan:  I was going to say it's a good segue, which is generally as we wrap up, we kind of ask, hey, what's a next step they can take? I know you've got, you mentioned earlier LinkedIn in terms of content, but what's the next step our audience can take to engage with you and to learn more about your perspective, your content? Or if they said, hey, I'd love to partner with you going forward.

Brian:  Thanks, I appreciate it. So a natural next step is I have a course on LinkedIn, on LinkedIn's education platform, e-learning platform called LinkedIn Learning. It's a course called Social Media Trends. It's a self-paced audio course where I talk about important trends that matter and kind of break down what the trend is and why it's useful and hopefully helping you make a quicker decision as it. So whether it's relevant to your organization to focus on or not So you can check that out on LinkedIn learning to date. It's had over a hundred thousand Students take the course and it's updated Frequently, so we make sure to you know, get rid of trends that are no longer relevant anymore I don't have that staying power and then I'm always adding New material because this is an always evolving space so Definitely check that course out. There's a lot of great ideas to get you thinking about how to take part in trends.

Brendan:  That's great. Well, one of the things I appreciate about your perspective, Brian, is it's not just ideas, but there are frameworks and recommendations. And that always makes it easier for our audience to apply. So thank you for answering in a thoughtful manner by which it really, I think it's helpful as opposed to just informative. So, hey, really do appreciate the time. I know our audience is going to benefit from this. If you didn't hear that, sign up for a course on LinkedIn. It's going to be great content. If you're interested in learning more about trends, and then if anyone wants to work with Brian, follow him on LinkedIn and I'm sure you can figure out how to engage with this company from here. Brian, thanks so much for the time. We really do appreciate it.

Brian:  It's been great. Thanks so much for the great questions. Appreciate it.

Brendan:  Alright, talk to you later. 

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