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The Power of the #Throwback: Playing Up Nostalgia in Social Media

Kitterman Marketing Power Of The Throwback Nostalgia There’s value in your embarrassing yearbook photos. For as much as social media is about progressing forward, often it’s used to look backward. Some of the most ubiquitous hashtags are #ThrowbackThursday (or #TBT), #FlashbackFriday, and #TransformationTuesday—all of which facilitate users sharing old photos and memories. Now there’s even TimeHop, an app that shows you what you posted on your social accounts on this exact day in years past. This means you can now actually get nostalgic about nostalgic social posts. What a time to be alive.

This isn’t a new idea that’s exclusive to social media. Nostalgia has often permeated throughout pop culture. You only need to look at iconic music like The Beatles’ “Yesterday” or even this year’s Academy Award front-runner, Boyhood, to see it. So how do you take something seemingly so personal and apply it to a marketing campaign? The answer lies within what makes up the facets of nostalgia.

People Respond to People

As we’ve talked about before on our blog, a human voice in your messaging makes you much more approachable. Sharing pictures of people has an even stronger effect. Half of the appeal of #ThrowbackThursday photos is the sensation of seeing your friends or someone you know in some unique way. The best throwback posts tell a story. That time you went river rafting. The one time you and your friends splurged and ate dinner at the Space Needle. Not just an old selfie.

As a marketer and a business, you have a story to tell. Maybe it’s reflecting on the day your company moved into a new office or that time you took an office service day to volunteer at the local food bank. Try and keep it centered on you and your employees. You are all much more interesting than an inanimate object.

Everyone Is a History Buff… to a Point

Two Australian teenagers have built a massive following with their @HistoryInPics Twitter account—2.26 million followers and counting. There’s little information or backstory given to each of their posts. Typically it’s just a photo of an iconic historical figure with a very brief caption. Also look at Buzzfeed’s listicle “31 Photos of New York City In The Summer Of ’69.” The author, Brian Galindo, does little to provide a narrative or context for the images. In fact, all of the captions are just off-handed, observational commentary. Yet as of right now this post has over 1 million views.

You could definitely find plenty of articles and literature that delves deeper into events covered by Buzzfeed and @HistoryInPics, but that’s not what people are sharing. People love that brief moment in time, seeing something familiar in a different era. You can play this up with images of your own business, or share historical events that have had an impact in your industry. Sharing images of these visionaries shows that you are in touch with your industry’s roots and helps you engage with your audience in a fun, relatable way.

Nostalgia Signifies Progress

Throwback posts are also a great way to show “how far you’ve come.” This often is manifest in “look how baby-faced I look!” but it also can be “look how much our business has grown!” Nostalgia is all about perspective. This is a chance to show your audience just how much you’ve grown, changed, and improved over the years. You’ve worked hard to build up your business and people love a success story. It’s the perfect “chocolate and peanut butter” scenario.

You can be on the cutting edge of trends and still take time to look back. Every day you’re building more and more backstory ready to be shared. Give a glimpse into the past to build your audience for the future.

2547ba2Dusty is the resident Inbound Marketing Specialist at Kitterman Marketing Group, a B2B marketing company that helps clients generate leads through the strategic mix of social, traditional and digital marketing.

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