In the tweet’s comment section, numerous brands replied with their own versions, sparking the fire that soon spread to the entirety of Twitter. But for these followers, not being first may have as little impact toward building engagement as for the initial poster who parroted the content in the first place. The secret is simply to be prepared.
‘Act fast, hop on and buckle up’
The majority of the recent one-word memes were posted within 12 hours of Amtrak’s initial tweet, and some of the most viral—including CNN’s and The Washington Post’s—came less than an hour and a half later. Their posts indicate that when a viral trend starts, so does a timer counting down its relevance to consumers.
“Always be prepared to be unprepared,” wrote Mason. “If needed, throw out the plans and ignore the social content calendar… if it works for your brand, act fast, hop on and buckle up.”
Another way to successfully “hop on” viral trends is to experiment with form, so that when the time comes, you will know whether a viral opportunity makes sense for your audience. This is how Amtrak ultimately decided to activate the one-word meme.
“Our text-only tweets have been a hit with [younger audiences],” wrote Abrams. “‘Trains’ is an iteration of a long list of our experimental tweets.” These include a post the account made last month—“no thoughts. just trains <3”—that generated 36,000 likes. As with the one-word trend, this tweet relied on brevity and a non-sequitur tone, which Amtrak’s followers seem to find agreeable.
Putting a brand’s own spin on a meme can also help separate oneself from the pack, especially when numerous accounts are adding to the trend. Wingstop’s explicit tweet exemplifies this idea. The brand initially made a “wings” tweet on the day the one-word trend went viral, but since dozens of others had already weighed in at that point, the post only garnered a few thousand likes. A few days later, however, the brand learned that its restaurants were close to selling out a four-week supply of its new chicken sandwich in only six days. Wingstop saw an opportunity and hopped on it.
“Having an established relationship with our loyal Twitter audience, we expected that this tweet would be highly-engaged with and prime the chicken sandwich sell-out chatter that followed,” a Wingstop spokesperson told Ad Age.
The decision resulted in the brand’s highest performing tweet, and an influx of over 14,000 new followers.
Read More: One-word tweets trend: how Wingstop, other brands played on Twitter