We’re all familiar with the concept of hype. We get hyped up when we’re excited about something that is going to happen. We don’t buy all the hype when we think something won’t live up to its expectations. So at its core, hype is all about big expectations.
Gartner, the IT research firm, uses this idea when analyzing emerging technologies. They look at new concepts and weigh a market’s excitement against its ability to deliver. Here’s where they placed various technologies along the hype curve for 2014:
Although it looks overwhelming, it’s actually pretty easy to read the chart. Let’s take a look at a hot topic in recent years: Consumer 3D Printing (it’s a blue dot to the right of the peak). The media likes to cover it and early adopters love to show off their at-home creations. It’s a sexy idea. Who wouldn’t want to just print out a new fork instead of doing the dishes?
That being said, consumer 3D printing is headed into the dreaded Trough of Disillusionment. This is the phase in the technology hype cycle when providers of the technology don’t deliver on all the excitement. It doesn’t mean the topic will become less popular, but that the sentiment shifts as the market grows out of its cool, hip, teenager phase. We realize that we’d rather wash a fork than buy a $1,375 printer.
So marketers, here’s what you can take from this:
Use Hype to Guide Content
With digital marketing it’s important to stay on top of current trends so that you can join a growing conversation or comment on an increasingly popular trend. At Stryve, we take 15 minutes every week to come together as a team to talk about what the word on the street is so that we can integrate that into what we blog and post about. One example of this was when Apple Pay was announced and we released the blog 5 Questions Canadians Have About Apple Pay Answered. The next day, we certainly rode the hype train and our website traffic from organic search went through the roof:
A great tool for keeping on top of trends is Google Trends. It can act as a spot-check to let you know if you’re a bit late to jump on a bandwagon. If I were to write this blog all over again I would publish it in September, when the hype for the “hype cycle” is the highest. Lesson learned!
But Your Hype Needs Some Substance
Believe it or not, a lot of people are already in-the-know with the first tip. There is going to be a flood of content riding the hype wave, so it’s really important to make sure that yours stands out. We wrote about this concept of creating signal vs. noise when we published our Blogging Checklist. It’s worth a look. TLDR; infuse your personality & voice into a topic that is useful or entertaining to your target market.
We also learned from that evil Trough of Disillusionment that people can tell when you can’t put your money where your mouth is. The companies who are able to take their technology out of the trough are able to improve their product so that its value matches the level of hype.
For marketing, this means:
- Proofing – nothing gets published, posted, or printed without being checked over multiple times
- Testing – float your ideas past people, A/B test, and gather as much feedback & data as possible
- Iteration – constantly adapt to meet your target market’s needs
If you want your brand to stay relevant and hyped, you have to continuously hit a moving target. This is commonly called Product Market fit (PMF) and is something else we have written about before – catch it in our review of Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday.
So hopefully this inspires you to get your marketing on the hype train, and may it take you to exciting places!