As a thirty something, I’ve known for a while know that I’m on the brink of extinction when it comes to pop-cultural relevance. My twenty-something sister frequently reminds of that as she trolls through Tumblr for the latest subculture trends that soon make it into pop-culture. Though I have very little interest in pop-culture, as a marketer it’s my job to know what people are talking about, to understand what they’re thinking, and to be able to relate to that. I’m one scenario, and there’s still hope for me since I have access to a younger generation that can keep me updated. But what about what mature business owners who excel at their business, who know they need to be active on the social front and engage with their audience, but who have no idea what’s hot right now.
For those lost many, I’ve created a go-to guide to help you ‘hack’ into pop-culture; a list of the best pop-culture blogs and sites that keep you fresh and in tune with the public without crossing the threshold from pop culture into junk entertainment.

  • USA Today’s Pop Candy – A great site that makes you feel a little less guilty about digging into pop culture. The site features tidbit news items you’d probably be curious to know about anyways. Use this site to learn about how you can leverage a new piece of conversation around a popular subject.
  • Upworthy – a feel good site made up of mostly video content, Upworthy brings up trendy cultural narratives…who says pop culture has to be about celebrity entertainment? Top items featured right now covers science, bullying, nerd life, and management. It doesn’t sound like pop culture news items, but it is and you can pull from it the same way you would from Pop Candy.Notice the difference between your blog and social content, and the content on these sites (that, of note, has made them such a huge hit in less time). The difference is this: they talk about things anyone would be interested in hearing about, and they make them easy to digest stories so people are more likely to share them without needed to be too invested. Virility is key here and you achieve that buy being relatable.
  • Geek Sugar – a spin off of Pop Sugar (celebrity “news”), Geek Sugar offers a guide to the latest in today’s pop culture geekness. Think pop culture for nerds, which is still a very powerful brand. If you’re wondering just how powerful, considering how much Comic Con San Diego has grown from the late 2000’s to now. It was a convention then; it’s nerd Mecca now.
  • Pop Culture Brain – Bite-sized media-based pop culture snippets that’s been labeled as TIME’s 30-Must-See Tumblr blogs and BuzzFeed’s 90 Best Tumblr Blogs of 2011. You would need to have some background knowledge of the references made here … which pretty much means you need to have been watching at least some TV.This brings us to an important point. The best pop-culture references tend to come from TV shows. Take for example Breaking Bad. If you hadn’t seen the show, you wouldn’t know of the blue meth references (which one cupcakery was clever enough to have perched atop their baked goods, which of course, got them viral social attention).
  • The Daily What – part news, part random posts, The Daily What (also referred to as Cheezburger), gets it just right by pairing curious with current events. The result: super quick shares of curious fringe elements in today’s news. It makes you relevant without making you boring (because lets face it, most serious new items are found boring by a generally uninterested public).
  • Vulture – the Variety of pop culture, Vulture has a great post on the 100 pop culture things that make you a millennial. It’s probably a good idea to scope this out considering that just about any hard hitting marketing and ad campaign is directed toward millennials.