Newsjacking: Shall We or Shan't We?

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Looking for new ideas for social content to engage your talent community or consumers? You can capitalise on what's #trending, but proceed with caution...


To put your brand in front of leagues of new hearts and minds on Twitter (and even on Instagram), join the real-time discussion of what's trending. Sometimes called newsjacking, it's about involving yourself in a particularly hot topic that's being talked about online right now, using the trending hashtag to 'join the conversation'. 

But remember, while leveraging 'what's hot' can definitely give your brand a nice little boost, it's not a tactic you want to use often. 

Keep it Light
We'd generally recommend posting a funny or interesting tidbit that capitalises on a positive/lighthearted news item, rather than commenting on a more weighty topic where commercial presence could look in bad taste. 

Keep it Authentic
If you do want to make your voice heard on a more serious trending matter, just make sure what you say is a true reflection of your organisation's values, not a shameless attempt to grab attention. 

Keep it Relevant
And keep your audience firmly in mind when choosing what trend to join in a discussion on - trending topics are as diverse as our society, so you'll see things like Kim Kardashian's marriage and TV shows like XFactor or The Bachelor trending right alongside topics like the launch of the Apple Watch, or events of national and international significance. Only get involved if the topic is relevant to your audience, 

And one final tip - just like at dinner parties - avoid conversations around religion, politics and sex... you're bound to offend someone!

A great example of what not to do is this thoughtless tweet by America's GAP fashion stores, shortly after Hurricane Sandy hit:


This cringe-worthy example shows how you go about joining a conversation (by including the trending hashtag in your tweet or Instagram comment - in this case #Sandy), but that's the only thing they did right here!

While there are plenty of face-plant fails documented, there are even more where brands newsjack beautifully. Here's a few examples:

Virgin newsjacked the same-sex marriage bill being passed. Yes, it's a piece of marketing, but this works because it is joining in on a celebration of something positive. 

The USA vs Ghana game of 2014's World Cup saw loads of brands on the band-wagon. We like this one (above) in particular because this brand didn't just decide the next day in the office to newsjack the trending topic, instead it's obvious that they were watching - at the edge of their seats - the same live action that social media users were. 


And here's Victoria's Secret newsjacking the same event, but with a flirty, fun twist!

At the last Grammys, musician Pharrell made headlines with his over-the-top headwear. American fast-food chain Arby's injected their brand into a hot topic of discussion with quick wit... 

And do you see there - that single tweet had 79,815 re-tweets - that is, close to 80,000 people on twitter shared the Arby's message with all of their followers! (Plus the tweet was favourited over 44,000 times too). So Arby's got their brand in front of hundreds of thousands of people, for free, and made them smile!

And what's even better... the internationally-mega-famous Pharrell even tweeted right back to them - with even quicker wit!


So, keep an eye on what your audience are talking about - and occasionally, if the 'fit' is right and you have something of value to say (be it funny, interesting or supportive), let your brand voice be heard!

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