From technology to fashion to food, trends and fads come and go. But what’s the difference between a trend and a fad in digital marketing, and how can you make these work for your business? Sometimes there’s a thin line separating a trend from a fad, so it’s important to understand these two terms. Here’s what you need to know about trends vs. fads. 

What is a Digital Marketing Trend?

A trend is something that slowly gains momentum over time. Many marketing trends may not be noticeable at first. But some thoughtful industry leaders might take notice and point them out. But after a substantial period, their significance becomes clear. 

An example of a digital marketing trend is the use of mobile devices by consumers. Another is the significance of social media as an influence on consumer behaviors. 

What is a Digital Marketing Fad?

Unlike trends, digital marketing fads will gain popularity quickly and disappear just as fast. While they might hold some value as a short-term marketing strategy, it doesn’t make sense to invest in them heavily. 

An example of a digital marketing fad was the “Superzoom” function on Instagram, which allows you rapidly zoom in while using Instagram Stories. It creates a dramatic and funny effect, which is a novelty that will wear off quickly. 

Marketing Trends vs. Fads – Knowing the Difference

So what are the key factors that separate a marketing trend from a fad? Here are some of the ways you can tell the difference between the two:


Your business should start by asking itself what it hopes to accomplish with its overall marketing strategy. Most companies focus more on trends because the payback is long-term. A great fad campaign can pay off quickly, but then you are looking for the next “fad” to replace it once people see the material as outdated. 


Another factor to consider is the audience your brand is trying to connect with. Your choice of marketing strategy must be aligned with the interests and values of its target audience. If you are only focusing on fads, but your target audience is a bit older, you might have a problem. 


How long you want or expect the marketing message to last will also impact the strategy you choose. But what might seem like a fad on the surface could easily become a long-term trend. For example, emojis exploded in popularity in the 90s, and they are still considered a highly effective digital language. 

Bottom Line

While there’s a difference between marketing trends vs. fads, your business can certainly benefit by leveraging both as part of its digital marketing strategy. Trends take time to gain momentum but will continue to deliver results long-term, while fads can offer quick “wins” for a short-term campaign. 

At VisionPATH Marketing, we can help your business create a winning online presence through solid branding and ongoing messaging that takes advantage of the right mix of strategies. Our mission is to place strategy before tactics, so we create a partnership with you to understand your business and goals and then figure out how we can help your business grow. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.