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Traditions that social media has given us

Published: 23/06/2016 | AUTHOR: Emily Bray

dogs at polling stations

As a country steeped in history and culture as much as Britain is, we’re rather fond of our traditions. This is perhaps one of the reasons that social media has thrived so much in Britain, having offered up a space where we can create new traditions and combine them with our notorious sarcasm and wit.

These traditions also have a habit of forming viral content, a concept that has been positioned by many as the holy grail of content marketing, so a good number of brands keep a steady eye on these traditions and build campaigns around them, to greater or lesser effect.

Much like holiday marketing, some traditions have become an annual occurrence that marketers can plan for in order to gain press coverage and awareness. However, this isn’t always the best thing for brands. As is always the case with marketing, it comes down to relevance and whether it is appropriate to piggyback such events.

Here we take a look at some of the most popular social media traditions of the past couple of years and the brands that have succeeded or, in some cases, failed at making the most of the conversation.

Festivals on social media

Some may argue festivals count as holiday marketing in a sense, but they each offer up their own form of tradition via social media. In Britain, this normally takes the form of conversation around the weather or traffic or, in Glastonbury 2016’s case, both.

#GlastonburyTraffic made national news and the above tweet was shared by countless publications. In many cases of viral content, brands have to act quickly if they want to join the conversation but, with Glastonbury, it’s become so much of a tradition that it didn’t take a fortune teller to guess what people would be discussing on Wednesday. KFC was quick on the uptake with the below tweet, as were many others including Halfords, E4 and Ministry of Sound. We’ll let you decide the winners and losers here.

It’s likely that many others will be using the annual social buzz around Glastonbury and its downpour over the coming weekend to join conversations and increase brand awareness, but the ones that are successful will be those that are creative, witty and relevant.

Voting on social media

Yes, there are many debates and arguments on social media around politics, especially in the run-up to the EU referendum, but there is one social media tradition that sees the lighter side of the whole affair - #dogsatpollingstations.


The tradition not only helps with the campaign for voting awareness but combines two very British loves – social media and, of course, pets. If you can start a tradition on social media then you are onto a winner for your campaign, which will provide for you year after year.

Exams on social media

Again making light of what many find a difficult subject, social media does its best to lighten the mood felt amongst teens during their GCSE and A-level exams. And as it turns out, the world loves them for it.

It’s hard to count the number of publications that ran the ‘funniest tweets from GCSE students’ story this year, though by the end of it half the country knew the questions to this year’s Edexcel Maths and AQA Biology exams.


Unless it is relevant for your brand to comment it is better to avoid it, but the likes of The Student Room and other student publications reaped the benefit.

Ed Balls Day on social media

Finally, to perhaps the most famous and sacred social media tradition of them all – #EdBallsDay. It has become so big that this year it left many wondering if there would ever again come a year when it wouldn’t be celebrated, but what was it born from? The former shadow secretary tweeting his own name instead of searching it. Simplicity proven to be best in this case.

The BBC’s article gave a concise round-up of the action, including the brands and publications that joined in with the action. While it may seem a cheap trick, for many it worked.

Social media traditions

These are just a handful of the traditions created by social media, and many are aimed at just giving readers a quick laugh, but somehow they have lived on and brought out some of the best, and worst, creative content from brands.

Seen an example of how a brand has used a social media tradition to great effect? Share it with us on Twitter.

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