Every minute, Instagram users like more than 2.4 million posts, Snapchat users watch more than 6.9 million videos and Twitter users send 9,678 emoji-filled tweets, according to Domo. (If we look at all tweets, we’re talking about more than 347,000 posts being generated every minute of every day.)
As the total number of social media users grows and the amount of content being created expands, you need to work harder to be seen — and truly stand out.
The answer, friends, is newsjacking. But what the heck is newsjacking?
There are many definitions out there, but author and marketing expert David Meerman Scott defines newsjacking as “the art and science of injecting your ideas into a breaking news story, so you and your ideas get noticed.”
“Breaking news” can take many forms: hard news, politics, sports, cultural phenomena and so much more. Regardless of which event or development you plan to latch onto, you need to add a unique perspective to the conversation so your brand stands out.
Ready to get newsjacking? Here are five commandments you can follow:
Get Into a Real-Time Mindset
Newsjacking is so effective because it’s a person’s (or brand’s) real-time response to an event or breaking news. The event is still top-of-mind for the general public, so when a brand responds, it shows that it’s in tune with the news and events that matter to their audience.
Let’s look at this tweet from Annie’s Homegrown as an example:
— Annie's Homegrown (@annieshomegrown) August 2, 2016
Since its inception in 2003, The Bachelorette has become a cultural phenomenon. Everyday people, celebrities and brands live-tweet the show, but this is a great example of newsjacking because Annie’s is literally injecting its brand and products into the conversation. While it’s easy to simply tweet “We can’t wait for ‘The Bachelorette’ tonight,” Annie’s showed how its all-natural mac and cheese paired with a glass of wine for the ultimate girls’ night in.
A post like this takes time, creativity and wit. You not only need to know that the finale is coming up but how your brand can add to the conversation. You also need to have one (or a few) team members on hand to track trends and post on social during big events and awards shows. You can start small by prioritizing one or two events, but it’s important that everyone on your team is on board with the real-time approach and that your team members have the clearance to post content without requiring approvals or final sign-off.
Find Out What Matters To Your Audience … And Capitalize On It
Happy #NationalLipstickDay! @HudaBeauty is celebrating the beauty world’s biggest holiday with us by sharing what lipstick means to her 💄 ❤️ "I love the instant transformation with lipstick, and that you don’t have to wear any other makeup to feel different. Lipstick is so empowering and important to me. I believe now, more than ever, we are in a time where it’s moving from a power tie to a power lip. When you wear a certain lipstick, you feel totally different—like you can take over the world.” — Huda Kattan #MyLifeWithLipstick
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many brands attempt to newsjack without ever taking their target audience into account. After all, what’s the point in newsjacking something that doesn’t align with your target audience or what your brand represents?
Over the years, a variety of quirky “holidays” have emerged, such as National Ice Cream Day, National French Fry Day and even National Wine Day. Sephora successfully newsjacked a holiday that aligned with its business, products and target customers: National Lipstick Day. The retailer kicked off the holiday with an Instagram post featuring Huda Kattan, a blogger turned beauty entrepreneur, and a quote about why lipstick is her go-to beauty product.
Through the rest of the day, Sephora’s feed was updated with beautiful shots of lipstick products from different brand partners — all touting the holiday hashtag. Taking this consistent and dynamic approach, Sephora was able to integrate itself into the news mix and get its loyal followers into the lipstick holiday spirit. The retailer even closed off the day with an inspirational quote and thoughtful note to fans.
Stay In Tune With The News Curve
In order to identify, and capitalize, on newsjacking opportunities, you need to stay in tune with the news curve and respond in a timely fashion. Stay on top of breaking news and happenings using your standard social channels — especially Twitter and Facebook. Other valuable channels include Google News and Google Alerts. Register for relevant topics or keywords within your industry and always tap into general news outlets to see if there’s anything your brand can capitalize on.
Kohl’s did a great job tracking and reacting to the news curve. The Internet went abuzz when Candace Payne took a video of herself being super-excited to wear a Chewbacca mask and eventually, it spread to the general media. Kohl’s connected with the general public in a timely and personable way by sharing a clip and speaking candidly about how happy it made them. Shortly thereafter, the retailer posted a photo of Payne, her children and a gaggle of Star Wars swag courtesy of…you guessed it…Kohl’s. The retailer proved that it was in touch with the general public and wanted to make a positive impact, but also managed to promote the variety of Star Wars products it sells in stores and online. No doubt, it was a marketing move that benefitted both Payne and Kohl’s!
Can we all agree that this reaction to a Chewbacca mask is everything? pic.twitter.com/r7xKJbCcl2
— Kohl's (@Kohls) May 20, 2016
Take Risks (When It Makes Sense)
Sometimes, standing out means taking risks. Before you move forward with a newsjack, always take your target audience into account. Will your efforts resonate with them? Then, determine what your goals are. Are you trying to make people laugh, make them think or prove a point? Or are you just trying to garner some social buzz and even some media coverage?
Taking all these factors into account, remember that it’s okay to take some risks with your social posts — whether that’s through your imagery or messaging.
This is a pretty dramatic example, but consider this Instagram image posted by Planned Parenthood, which actually was a repost from Advocates for Youth. On the heels of Pokemon Go being released, the organization released this image promoting safe sex. Rather than taking a more serious and up-front approach, they tapped into a current trend that aligned with their younger audience and even used terminology from the game to grab their attention.
What Not to Do #NewsjackingFails
Any time you try to hop on a breaking trend or news development, there is always a chance that your target audience, or the general public, is not going to respond well. This usually happens if brands comment on an issue that doesn’t align with their business or if they respond light-heartedly to a serious issue.
For example, General Mills got into hot water when Cheerios’ social team posted a tweet after Prince’s death was announced. Although General Mills is based in Minnesota, Prince’s home state, people took offense to the post itself, which was merely an image that said “Rest in Peace” with a purple background and the “I” dotted with a cheerio. The image was deleted soon after it was posted due to the surge of negative feedback.
What can other brands learn from this example? Think twice before posting about a natural disaster or tragedy of any kind. Your post could easily be misconstrued and your audience may see your post as a desperate reach for sales in light of someone else’s sadness. This post from Marc Jacobs is a great example of how to do it right. The world was saddened by the death of David Bowie. Rather than try to push products or create a special discount code in his honor, the folks at Marc Jacobs merely posted a photo of Bowie in a fashionable yet outrageous outfit, a quote and “RIP.” It’s simple but it got the point across.
Learning how to newsjack effectively takes some time, testing and learning. Brands should not be afraid to try new things, test different approaches and even push the limits. All that matters is that you learn and grow with your experiences.