Boy, I hate that dress.
Not too long ago this statement wouldn’t even have made sense, but now visiting Twitter and looking up “#thedress” leads you to millions of blog posts, photos, and comments about this recent social media trend. Even Hollywood actors and well-known musicians have started jumping onto this bandwagon. Now it seems that no matter where I look I end up staring at that infernal dress, and that every single human being I know has written something about it.
Just on the off chance that your head has been buried in the cultural sand, the dress in question appears in the following photo, which made quite a commotion when it was posted on Tumblr. The question is, does the dress color appear to be white and gold, or does it look like royal blue and black to you? The answer, by the way, isn’t as easy as you might think. Different people could look at the same photo and come to completely different conclusions, showing that different people’s eyes process color and account for lighting in slightly different ways.
While the science behind all this was interesting, I have to be honest. The way “the dress” held the internet hostage for about a week was so annoying that I simply avoided social media like the plague for a while. And now I’m doing something I swore to myself I would never do…
That’s right. I’m writing about the dress.
Writing Trends – Friend or Foe?
No matter what type of writing you do, eventually this question is going to come up. When trendy topics and styles take our culture by storm, will you choose to ignore the trend or jump onto that wave and ride it out?
Some would say that writing and tweeting about popular, “trending” topics is one of the best ways to widen one’s online audience and increase traffic to your site. Others, however, would say that this type of writing makes a mockery of the profession.
Are writing trends good or evil? Well… that’s a little bit like asking whether the dress is white or blue, isn’t it?
Writing to Audiences with Differing Perspectives
At the end of the day, every one of our readers has a unique perspective. When we choose to write a piece – on any topic – we will appeal to some readers while annoying others. Seasoned writers just learn to deal with this. And of course, we constantly remind ourselves that we don’t write for the approval of others.
But is there a way to capitalize on social media trends without having the writing “purists” run away from your site screaming?
I do think that we should put careful thought into where, when, and how we advertise our writing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned regarding advertising on various sites:
Facebook – People gather here to catch up with family and friends. By advertising personal or family-related posts here (complete with a family picture), I can draw my Facebook friends to my blog. As for those trending topics – well – a lot of people sound off on popular issues here, but unless the post is really funny or makes a personal connection, it isn’t going to do well.
Twitter – Those who gather on Twitter feed off of the energy created by trending topics, and absolutely love having a world-wide conversation about a popular topic or issue. If you’re going to write about a trending topic, this is absolutely the place to let others know about it.
WordPress – Granted, there are all types of people on WordPress and other blogging sites. From my experience, however, most who take the time to blog consider themselves to be a little more academic and think of themselves as serious writers. If you’re going to advertise a trending topic in a forum like this, you better make sure you do so in a very intelligent and creative way.
How About You?
Do you have any other wisdom to share about navigating the stormy waters of popular writing trends? Do you personally find posts on trendy topics to be exciting or revolting?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
This post was submitted as part of IWSG, a fellowship of writers who agree to post on the first Wednesday of every month with encouragement and tips for other writers.