Where to find newsjacking opportunities

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We talked previously about getting the team ready to newsjack. Now, here is the cheese to that biscuit of newsjacking delight – where to find the opportunities to do that newsjacking.

Are you ready?

Let’s dive into the places where you can find content for newsjacking

Allow your staff to soak in it

a window in a cafe says #becuriousNobody but nobody can newsjack effectively if they are not playing in the places where it is done. This means you need to allow your staff to have time to experience social media, blogs, vlogs and the rest on your dime.

Yep, that’s right. They should be allowed to stay up to date with all the latest and greatest for newsjacking purposes.

That includes but is not limited to:

  • Checking out the general news
  • Engaging with industry news and trends
  • Adding in a splash of pop culture news
  • Spending time on Twitter. Yes folks, Twitter still does live – and it is where a lot of the stuff you see later on Facebook comes from
  • Growing the meme game. Spend time hanging out in the places where memes generate
  • Looking at the hashtags on places like TikTok and Reddit where trends are set
  • Understanding where the trendsetter social media accounts reside. There are always people and places across each platform that you should be following for the inside scoop

Making time for your customer service or community management team to dig through the latest and greatest is paramount if you are going to be on trend.

Look for trends

This is separate from actually going to the platforms and news sources to find out what people are looking at.

It’s about seeing the trends as they form.

Great sources of trend information for newsjacking purposes are:

  • Observing the trends on social media as they form (trending topics are classic)
  • Cross matching those with keywords in Google, DuckDuckGo, Ecosia and others as they rise
  • Watching PR newswire services for the latest releases
  • Anticipating what might happen next. There’s no greater thrill than realising something has the potential to end up a trend or a meme than experimenting to see if it works for you in the first instance
  • Staying close to communities on Reddit and places where fun yet sarcastic takes on life flourish
  • Places like Pedestrian TV, Junkee and Vice
  • Influencers – it’s what they do!
  • Consult your social media scheduling programs. Many of them include trend information.

And please, know enough about the topic at hand to have a conversation, not just deliver a one liner. It becomes incredibly obvious when someone has waded in on a moment or debate or situation to say something about it when they don’t really know their butt from their bowtie. The internet won’t stand for it.

There’s always going to be someone smarter than you on the internet. And that’s OK. But at least be able to hold your own if they clapback.

Set your company up for it

If you are newsjacking and meming your way around social media, you need to observe your companies own silly moments. You have to be as comfortable as riffing on the world around you as you are at teasing the rest of the world.

That includes:

  • Selecting an attitude that suits the company. Be the breaking news, the comedian, the critic or the inside scoop. But don’t be these things if that’s not what you are in real life
  • Poking fun at your potentially unpopular policies
  • Playing a little chest-beater game if you receive kudos or awards
  • Finding other brands to battle with that will match you in kind
  • Setting up a list of things you can play with that is safe and respectful. For example, NSW Police and speeding memes. Or the various frontline services and their love of animal frontline staff
  • Being transparent about your company’s persuasions. If you are left-leaning, card carrying carnivores or avid fans of cricket, be open about it. And take it on the chin if someone riffs back
  • Declare moments of challenge or changing your mind on particular issues in a fun and playful way

And stay where you feel most comfortable. And where the perception of who you are and what you do most comfortably resides. Don’t try to be the heritage brand for the upper middle class who decides one day to start teasing the new kids on the internet block. If you are the Daggy Dad company, zing your Dad jokes. Or keep your newsjacking away from comedy and more towards investigative, challenging scrutiny of current events if you are a trusted, reliable and mature brand.

Make sure the perception your customers, competitors and the internet audience at large remain consistent.

Integrate events and dates

If all of a sudden you are cracking jokes about the news and you sell airline tickets or cheese for a living, it’s going to feel as though you are trying to cash in. But if you work at making sure you are clever and leading from the front on a regular basis, it will look like a more natural extension.

The best way to do this is to develop a calendar of fun, memorable and most of all – appropriate- dates to include. Yes folks, you can plan for your newsjacking adventures, too.

Building your social media calendar should include:

  • Relevant national and hallmark style holidays
  • Industry specific and relevant dates
  • Company anniversaries and special anniversaries such as birthdays for ambassadors or people of high profile
  • Dates and events that show your customer base you care (but not just on that day, please – that looks tokenistic)
  • Odd dates that might be relevant to what you do. Like a cheese appreciation day for a dairy wholesaler
  • Moments for education and pride – but again, please don’t jump on International Day of People with Disability or LGBTQIA+ Pride Month in an isolated moment as it will look like you are cashing in

And the dates shouldn’t be selected simply because they exist. There should be a tangible and real connection that comes back to your business. It should reflect what you do, who you employ and what you offer. As well as a true reflection of your customer base.

Do more than appreciate

Newsjacking is about leading the field, creating something memorable and playing with something in context. It’s not about raising awareness or filling blank slots in your calendar.

People who enjoy newsjacking want depth.

Always ask yourself before you start newsjacking:

  • Does this lift the lids on the behind the scenes of my business?
  • Am I discussing something we care about and have knowledge of?
  • Where on the wave will I land? In front, on top or in the wash? (Spoiler alert: if you are in the wash, don’t bother)
  • How will this piece of content help further the trend along?
  • What is the connection between my company and the trend I am discussing?
  • Is this an ad for an appreciation day or something actually meaningful?
  • Am I adding to the conversation? Am I taking it to new heights?

That final question needs answering with an immediate feeling that you are indeed pushing things further than they should be. Or at the very least, providing a new branch to increase conversation and keep it going.

If it’s just lip-service or to say “yay, I am here now” with not much else going on, skip it.

The difference between simply putting out content around a date and really tying it to your social media strategy is like the difference between making a statement and inviting a conversation.

Anyone can observe something. Not everyone asks you to dig deeper.

Don’t be a jerk about it

As Steve Martin said, “a joke is best when played upon oneself.”

Don’t use newsjacking as the chance to put the boot in further. This will often look mean spirited and more than a little like someone desperate for attention.

When you are newsjacking, keep these principles in mind:

  • Use the “show, don’t tell” motif. You want to tease an idea, so people stop and think. Not thwack them over the head with it
  • Don’t punch down. Gently lever things up to have a look. Or integrate your own brand into the situation as the one who is guilty of the current trend. Or to raise a cheeky eyebrow at what is happening and relieve stress with a laugh. Never be mean spirited
  • Look for a partner to play with. Invite other people to join in on the gag. Whether that’s other brands or customers or both. This is why those “if you mention your favourite band, they might just give you a hello” threads are so popular on Facebook. It places with our desire to be heard and engage with people we don’t usually get the chance to experience right in the frame
  • Ask yourself – Am I qualified to poke fun and pull feathers in this context? Reflecting on this can really help decide if you should get involved
  • Be prepared to get replies. You will receive responses from the entire spectrum of the internet community. And having someone in place that can talk down the cross people, pick and choose the battles, riff in a fun way, who won’t take it personally and can calm a situation down is particularly important.

Use newsjacking sparingly

Unless you have designs on being a news commentator or a comedian, keep your newsjacking to a reasonable limit. It’s always better to be the fun brand that occasionally brings out the zinger than the laugh-addict who got a taste for it and simply cannot stop.

If your jokes are getting tired, so will the brand. Recycle and cycle through the routine.

Think of it as a band or a performer on tour. If Bill Bailey said the exact same jokes every time you saw him live, you’d stop paying for tickets. The novelty would wear off very quickly if Neil Gaiman jumped in every time someone mentioned his name online. He keeps it fresh by being there when it works and within reasonable limits.

And mix up the topics and attitudes. If you are always the snarky brand looking to pick on one source, it gets a bit old. Find yourself an array of things to say and play with it. But not so much that people forget what you are there for in the first place.

Want someone that can help work at what sorts of conversations might spark a little fun and interest online? I can help you figure out the topics to take on and the topics to leave behind. And deliver the good.

Get in touch now if you are keen to make yourself known through newsjacking and social media now. 

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