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Case Studies Highlighting the Importance of Social Media Trends and Trend Setters: PR Edition

The rise of social media creators that associate themselves with brands is ever increasing, which is why it is imperative that companies are aware of social media trends in order to use them to gain valuable brand recognition. More often than not, these small creators-turned huge creators, are associated with brands, intentionally or unintentionally. Today, we will look at two rising social media creators that are associated with brands, and how we as PR professionals utilize that exposure.

The first case study is about a creator named Nathan Apodaca, aka Doggface208. Apodaca is a TikTok creator that took social media by storm in September 2020. He posted a video of himself longboarding while drinking Ocean Spray Cranberry Juice (unintentionally), and it instantly became a viral sensation. The video blew up and has accumulated over 80 million views. So, the question is, how did Ocean Spray handle this situation?

It is difficult to have your brand represented by a person, especially if that someone isn’t vetted and approved beforehand, but that is the curse and beauty of social media. In this case, having Apodaca unintentionally represent the entire face of Ocean Spray worked in their favor. About two weeks after the initial video, Ocean Spray collaborated with Apodaca, and the company received worldwide brand recognition. To this day, Ocean Spray is still using Apodaca to represent its brand on TikTok. Instead of ignoring the situation, Ocean Spray cooperated with the bigger story and managed to gain valuable brand recondition.

The second case study is about a creator named Milad Mirghahari, a TikToker who makes Subway sandwiches. He currently has over 3.5 million followers and records himself making sandwiches via a camera strapped onto his chest. Mirghahari’s videos are known throughout TikTok and have an active base of supporters. With Mirghahari’s videos showing the raw functions of Subway, i.e., how they prepare food, clean dishes and make sandwiches, it would be understandable if Subway told Mirghahari to stop producing videos. Instead, Subway took this opportunity and made it work for them.

Subway decided to create a social media campaign that incorporated Mirghahari’s style of videos. Subway had Mirghahari run their TikTok and create content for them. The campaign was successful in terms of engagement. Before the takeover, Subway averaged around 100 thousand views per video, but when Mirghahari took over, the average jumped to almost three million views per video. Subway had many options here but chose the only option that increased their brand awareness and associated themselves with a famous content creator.

Content creators using brands intentionally and unintentionally will only increase. In these two instances, if either company wasn’t aware of social media trends, they would have missed out on huge opportunities to boost their brand recognition. The key takeaway for PR professionals is that social media is a spontaneous community that can either make or break a brand’s image. With that in mind, we need to not only make sure that the brands we represent have a social media presence, but also be culturally aware of trends and trendsetters in order to capitalize on opportunities and avoid potential crises.

This blog post was written by Constantine Van Sickle, Director of PR.

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