Trends come and go on the Internet in the blink of an eye, so it’s rare for anything to stick for months or even years. Social media seems to move even faster, with memes and viral content seemingly reaching peak engagement within hours, then dying out just as quickly. When something like Throwback Thursday comes along, it changes the game.
And in this post, we’ll cover some of the best Throwback Thursday ideas.
What is Throwback Thursday #TBT?
Even if you don’t follow social media trends that much, you’ve probably already seen Throwback Thursday posts on your own feed. The commonly accepted origins of this trend and hashtag are a sneaker blog roughly a decade ago. A blogger used story generators for content and posted photos of some of his favorite old sneakers, titling the collection Throwback Thursday.
Now the hashtag has evolved to include pretty much anything nostalgic for the poster. People are using it as an opportunity to share old photos, events, hairdos, outfits, and so on. It’s fun to celebrate things we look back on fondly (or maybe even not so fondly). It’s proven to be one effective tactic for social media marketing as well.
The incredible thing about Throwback Thursday is that nothing is off-limits. Even embarrassing photos gain a lot of traction and engagement so long as they’re relatable. There’s the acknowledgement that our failures of before don’t determine our successes today. There’s a celebration of the growth and development that has occurred.
Why use Throwback Thursday in Your Social Media Marketing?
Nostalgia marketing is one of the most powerful tools in a marketer’s arsenal. The memories of days long gone can push your audience to share their own experiences. So long as the content is relatable, someone is going to chime in and say, “I remember that,” or “that happened to me too!”
Not only that, it tells your audience about your brand’s history and journey. Marketing to people on the strength of shared experiences is something that has been done for decades, if not centuries. If you can get your audience to identify with your past experiences, then they’re all the more likely to support you and listen to your messaging.
Where Should You Post Throwback Thursday Content?
Throwback Thursday content does well on any social media platform that relies mostly on visual content. Instagram is the main venue for #TBT posts, as are Facebook, TikTok, and Tumblr. Twitter is as well, to some extent, though it’s a little too fast-moving for these types of posts to gain a lot of traction.
YouTube and other mobile app development platforms do have some Throwback Thursday content, but it’s rarer because this type of content is thought of more as a snapshot of a previous era. Videos are less accepted for Throwback Thursday content. It’s also less prevalent on professional networks such as LinkedIn, because it tends to be lightweight content that doesn’t get much engagement on those platforms.
A good rule of thumb for your Throwback Thursday content is that you should always post it on Instagram and Facebook, and possibly TikTok and Tumblr. You can use Twitter to direct your audience to your main Throwback Thursday posts.
Instagram and Facebook Stories are a good venue for Throwback Thursday posts, in combination with some Instagram Quiz Stickers to increase engagement.
Throwback Thursday Ideas for Your Small Business
The main concept to keep in mind with Throwback Thursday content is that it generally has to be from a distinctly different era. Doing a throwback to last week doesn’t make much sense, so nobody does it. At the very least, it should be from a couple of years ago if it’s a particularly memorable event.
If your brand is young, you can start doing Throwback Thursday after you’ve been around for at least three years or so. These types of posts can be very effective if you’ve grown and changed a lot in that span of time.
Another thing to remember is that you’ll have to tailor these ideas to your intended audience. Knowing your audience is the key to any social media marketing strategy, so you should have that covered before you start utilizing these types of posts. And, of course, use the #TBT tag.
Share an old fact about your business
No matter how long your business has been running, you can leverage your history. You can join in on Throwback Thursday by sharing one fact about your business that may not be evident from its current state. Your business may have had to pivot, or maybe you had a vastly different product line-up.
Other fun facts include the original number of team members who made it all happen, or maybe even significant events on the day your company was founded. The longer you’ve been around, the more things you can share.
Share old logo designs
Your logo is the face of your business, as it represents everything you stand for and everything you do. It’s only natural that these logos change as the business grows and develops. Those old logos still have meaning, and they can still shed light in your company’s history. People love dissecting the design of logos, so here’s your chance to let your audience try.
The only caveat is that your logo has to have changed a significant enough amount for there to be a clear difference between the old one and the new one. It’s not very interesting for people if the only change is a different font or a slight color update.
Show off your first office or location
People love to see the origins of things. Your original office or location can tell your audience about your history in a lot of ways. It’s a big reminder of how far your small business has come. It’s often mentioned that Bill Gates started Microsoft in his garage, and you’re going for the same kind of effect. From humble beginnings, great things can happen.
This is still a good idea even if you’re still using that first office or physical location. If the design and layout has changed a lot, even better – what you’re trying to do is draw attention to the change between the old and the new. That just makes the things that haven’t changed stand out all the more. If your business has a long heritage, that can tell people how much you value old traditions, old techniques or SOPs that form the core identity of your company.
Connect your content to current events
If you’re holding an event, it can be a great idea to do a Throwback Thursday post that links this new event to others you’ve held in the past. You have the chance to highlight all the great things that happened at past events, while creating buzz for the new one. Video content is great for this, though you can also create posters or flyers for the new event that mimic the design of your older events.
This is great for businesses that hold regular events or live streaming events with a lot of history. Each event before has probably had its own distinct design, so there’s a wealth of elements to draw from.
Let your customers get in on the action
Your customers are your biggest audience, so getting them involved in your Throwback Thursday posts is critical. User-generated content is great for engagement, so enlist your customer’s help: ask for throwback pictures where your audience is using your products or is otherwise involved with your brand. You can then use this to highlight how far your products and services have come.
This can even be turned into a contest to further increase engagement. Get people to vote for the best Throwback Thursday content submitted to you, and hand out prizes for the winners. Not only do you get a lot of people looking at nostalgic pictures of your products, you also get the winners as returning customers. It doesn’t cost much to do, and the amount of community goodwill that can be built is huge.
Another approach we’ve seen is to have your audience recreate their Throwback Thursday pictures or videos with your products. This is fun for everyone, and some people will go to great lengths to ensure that everything is as accurate to the throwback picture as possible.
Share pictures of previous employees and customers
This is a great way to put a human face to your brand. Your greatest resource is your employees and your customers, so they deserve a day in the sun as well. Share pictures of your employees of yesteryear, because they were the ones who helped you get to where you are today. Maybe even employees who are still with the company and in higher positions than before.
Share pictures of customers who are interacting with your brand, especially if you’re focused on retail. Even better if you can find pictures of customers who are still loyal to you to this day. Celebrate them! They can be an undeniably powerful influence on the rest of your audience.
Share old advertisements or other marketing materials
This type of Throwback Thursday content does well the older it is – if you can dig up high quality versions of old advertisements, they’re bound to get great engagement. Ideally, the material should be from 20, 30, 40 years ago or even older.
The more recognizable the era it comes from, the better. Maybe you ran a magazine ad in the 80s that features all the recognizable 80s style cues, or you had a commercial in the 90s complete with Grunge music and flannel. Even radio advertisements can work if you have great visual content from the same era to play alongside.
Show off your first awards
Winning your first award as a business can be a huge milestone, so you’re almost guaranteed to have photos and videos of that event. If it’s been long enough, you can leverage those photos and videos once more. This shows your audience that you aren’t just doing great things now, you’ve been doing great things for a long time.
Reintroduce old products
This takes more effort but can be very effective if you’re set up to do it. People often look back nostalgically on old products that have been discontinued or have been changed. Re-releasing these products can be a great opportunity for Throwback Thursday, especially if there’s been consistent public demand for it.
You can then launch the product on Throwback Thursday for the ultimate throwback. This can also work as a limited or timed release – that way you aren’t committing too much to the product’s success.
Celebrate long relationships with old clients or partners
If you’ve had a long-running partnership or have a client that goes back decades, they also deserve to be recognized once in a while. You can share photos or videos if you are working together to show how much both of you have grown and benefited from your relationship. This doesn’t just get your audience engaged, it also gets their audience engaged for the most eyes on your content.
Just be sure to run this idea past the brand or person you’re including in your Throwback Thursday post, to make sure that they’re on board. If possible, they can then do their own post about the same thing to really reinforce the connection between you two.
More Tips for Throwback Thursday Content
Throwback Thursday is generally easy since all you have to do is dig up your content and post it with the #TBT hashtag. But there are some finer details you should remember:
- Don’t post anything that’s now politically incorrect – it just invites a bad reaction
- Don’t bother with hashtags that aren’t Throwback Thursday – nobody really uses those anyway
- Don’t post too much Throwback Thursday content – people love nostalgia but only in the right doses
- Go beyond photo and video content – photos and video are the kings of Throwback Thursday, but you can still think out of the box
- Have a great caption to explain your content – people need context for Throwback Thursday content to really hit home
Throwback Thursday content doesn’t have to be a core part of your marketing approach, unless your business is really focused on nostalgia and that specific type of aesthetic. It’s a way to mix things up, the spice you add to your marketing calendar to get big results with little effort. But the foundation should always be varied high-value content that keeps your audience coming back for more.