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#TBT: Rediscovering the Past in the Digital Age

“The Greek word for “return” is nostos. Algos means “suffering.” So nostalgia is the suffering caused by an unappeased yearning to return.”
― Milan Kundera

If ever there was a hashtag that had in-built nostalgia, it has to be TBT, which in full means Throwback Thursday. You’ve seen this wistful hashtag, #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday, on your social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

This social media trend features users posting pictures or interesting facts about a past event or from a time in an older era. They will post fond memories that show they are yearning to return to those periods, albeit irrecoverable.

Fun Fact: When preceded by a hashtag, #TBT refers to Throwback Thursday, but the same abbreviation can be used to mean ‘Truth Be Told.’

Throwback Thursday vs Flashback Friday

These two trends serve the same purpose and were born in almost the same period, in 2013. Both are weekly social media trends that draw in many users.

Throwback Thursday #TBT

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However, Throwback Thursday took off more in comparison to Flashback Friday (FBF). The only other difference is the obvious one that Throwback Thursday posts are done on Thursdays, while Flashback Friday posts happen on Fridays.

Some users tend to view FBF as a continuation of TBT so if you posted throwback pictures on Thursday but still want to post more on Friday, you can do so freely.

Both TBT and FBF posts are part of a list of daily posts, such as Monday Motivation, where users post positive and inspirational messages on Mondays. It inspires people to get out of bed on a Monday morning and get the week started.

Monday is also known for #MCM, which stands for Man Crush Monday, where users post pictures or videos of their favorite male celebrities and idols. #WCW is the female version and stands for Woman Crush Wednesday.

So, now that you have a concise breakdown of these trends, it’s time to understand how to harness the power of TBT.

The Power of #TBT in Digital Marketing

Gone are the days when TBT was an excuse to post old memories and embarrass people with their old photos. Now, companies and content creators are leveraging the power of Throwback Thursday to increase engagement and drive sales.

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1. TBT builds a connection with your target audience

Say you’re running your company’s social media campaign. You have a list of fun ideas to incorporate, such as anecdotes to keep people talking, or mentioning trends. Another aspect to consider is using Throwback Thursday posts to connect with your audience.

Post something sentimental that takes people back to a couple of years ago. For instance, you can share an old advertisement that your company used to show your customers how far the company has come, all while selling your products.

Nostalgia is powerful: It leads to brand loyalty. Being one in celebrating old fond memories builds a sense of community that leads to customers trusting your brand more.

2. TBT tells your brand’s history

Sharing a picture of an old office or a then-young CEO shows your customers that you have built your brand from the bottom up, and they can therefore trust in what you are offering.

Bill Gates #TBT post on Twitter

Consider Bill Gates for instance. In this magazine cover, he is seen eating a meaty burger, and in the caption, he quips about how he used to be a vegetarian but not anymore. This can reflect his business decisions, and how they have changed over time to build the giant Microsoft that we know today.

3. TBT increases the visibility of your brand

With so many #TBT posts on Instagram, for example, you have to brainstorm ideas to make your brand stand out. Consider what your target audience buys as marketing, and use it strongly.

The fact remains that if your post contains a TBT hashtag, it ranks high on search items for that day, that is, Thursday. Sharing content that resonates with your audience causes them to interact with it via likes, comments, and shares.

This ultimately broadens your brand’s horizons.

Ideas to Kickstart Your TBT Digital Marketing Strategy

1. Create a content calendar

Digital marketing should not be taken lightly; it needs meticulous planning. Any wrong move and your content becomes Garbage in, Garbage out. Digital marketing experts know the importance of having a content calendar.

Typically, you’ll have to choose the specific day that you’ll be posting TBT content, and that’s probably on Thursdays. Next, you’ll need to create content that will last you several weeks, even months.

Also, be ready to have live feedback and interaction with your audience once the posts are live. All these should be clearly noted down in your content calendar.

Remember, as with all digital marketing options, consistency is key.

Also Read: How to Combine SEO and Content Marketing for Your Small Business

2. Celebrate milestones and achievements

Any time you have product launches, releases, or anniversaries, post an old photo. Take your clients back to a time in your business’s life when things were different, and show them just how far you’ve come. Credit them for supporting you along the way, and before you know it, you’ll be having an army of loyal clients.

3. Share behind-the-scenes footage

This isn’t TMI (too much information), but sharing glimpses of your production process may bring in more clients. For instance, let’s say you are dealing with body lotions. Taking your clients through the factory process of mixing healthy ingredients to create the lotion they love so much will make them loyal.

TBT Best Practices and Examples

1. Stick to a particular theme

If you want to take your audience back to a specific time in your brand’s history, let that be consistent for all your social media posts that day. This ensures that your digital marketing is coherent across all platforms.

2. Use the correct hashtags

Throwback Thursday vs. Flashback Friday

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It’s either #TBT, #tbt, #ThrowbackThursday, #throwbackthursday, #FBF, #FlashbackFriday, or #flashbackfriday for all your nostalgic photos. Using the wrong one may limit your post’s chances of being featured on the hashtag list, and therefore inhibit brand visibility. Typing out the correct hashtag ensures that you maximize SEO best practices.

3. Let loose a little

This is a chance for you to build an emotional connection with your audience, so skip the bureaucracy. Share memes and funny quips with your followers, and let them relate to this content.

4. Be Authentic

There’s nothing as discomfiting as a raw reveal that’s fabricated. Once you let loose, be real about it. Here’s a suitable example: You want to post a TBT photo of your company’s first batch of employees. However, there is an issue. Most of these employees don’t work with you anymore, and you’re afraid of them suing you.

So, you decide to take a picture with the current group, and use filters to enhance the quality – make it look like it was taken two decades ago. Unknowingly, a newer laptop brand can be viewed in the photo, but you didn’t notice. The picture couldn’t have possibly been twenty years old.

The effect? The canceling culture will take effect and netizens will cancel your brand, all because of a simple mistake.

Avoid this. You’d rather not post Throwback Thursday content at all than post fake content.

Examples of Effective TBT Digital Marketing Campaigns

Some examples of effective TBT marketing campaigns from popular brands include:

1. Coca-Cola

One of the brands that use nostalgic throwback content is Coca-Cola. We agree: TBT is more than a day, it’s a concept. Coca-Cola has taken advantage of this concept through its advertising campaigns over the years.

Coca-Cola launches marketing campaign ahead of the sugar tax

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Coca-Cola ad

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Sign of Good Taste ad by Coca-Cola

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That taste-good feeling by Coca-Cola

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2. Burger King

When Burger King rebranded, its creative director Lisa Smith had this to say, “We explored a lot of different design territories, but kept coming back to the brand’s original iconic logo from 1969 and 1994 when Burger King looked at its best.”

Burger King before and after

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When Burger King posted this rebrand, it set itself up for either approval or disdain. But something else it did was to bring up a new avenue of communication with its clients. How so, you ask?

Their customers now had the chance to post throwback memories of the old Burger King. Every picture taken in a new Burger King outlet would now be a throwback, as everything changed after the comprehensive rebrand.

3. Nickelodeon’s ’90s Fest

In 2015 and 2016, Nickelodeon held a one-day entertainment festival in Brooklyn, New York. It was meant to focus on 1990 pop culture and beloved shows, such as Rugrats and Hey Arnold!

90s Nostalgia by Nickelodeon

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By allowing fans to relive their nostalgic moments, Nickelodeon capitalized on a great marketing tool; the same that TBT hinges on. Nostalgic marketing.

Fans could now post pictures with the Throwback Thursday hashtag, and connect with other fans with similar interests.


Nostalgia Marketing

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Nostalgia is a powerful tool in digital advertising; it connects with the audience on a personal and sentimental level, allowing them to relate more to the brand. #TBT is a very powerful tool in digital marketing.

At Indexsy, we believe that we can help you become a better digital marketer. We have curated an expert team that has authority on all things SEO.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Does TBT have to be on Thursdays?

Well, no. TBT stands for Throwback Thursday, so you’d be right to conclude that it’s a mistake to have it on any other day. And that would suffice, yet there are TBT posts on other days despite Thursdays. Throwback days are not limited to Thursdays.

The reason for this is that TBT rose beyond its name, and gained a reputation for itself. People love the concept behind it; they could participate by posting pictures from their happy times in the past. If someone felt nostalgic on Sunday, then they could post a throwback photo with the hashtag or phrase.

2. Is it necessary to include the hashtag #TBT when posting TBT content?

While it’s not necessary to include the hashtag #TBT, it can be helpful to increase the visibility of your post and make it easier for others to find your content. Using other relevant hashtags can also help to broaden the reach of your post.

Using a correct hashtag aligns with search intent. You will provide the exact content your audience needs.

3. How can businesses measure the success of their TBT campaigns?

Businesses can measure the success of their TBT campaigns by tracking metrics such as engagement (likes, comments, shares), reach, and follower growth. They can also monitor website traffic and sales to see if there is an increase in activity during the campaign.