The PR industry is used to the term of newsjacking – the idea of taking something that is on the national news agenda (e.g. the budget, new legislation or even a event like the World Cup) and using it to get coverage or mentions for a brand. It’s a tried and tested tactic and can get good, short-term, results.
Newsjacking is equally effective in a social media world however and with the luxury of not being dependent on third parties (e.g. journalists), it means that brands (or anyone in fact) can be a little bit more creative.
The strategy is the same. Take an event, issue, news agenda item that is gripping the socialmediasphere, add in some creativity, seed it effectively and you have a recipe for creating the next viral hit.
It’s actually interesting that brands aren’t jumping on the social media newsjacking bandwagon more frequently. There was a good article recently on this by James Whately. When the ITV HD TV channel accidentally switched to an advert during England’s World Cup game, viewers missed a crucial goal. James suggested that this was a fantastic opportunity for Hyundai - the brand whose advert was shown – to create some buzz around the unfortunate incident. I mentioned in the comments that this was in fact similar to a viral video released by Tic Tac following a similar incident earlier last year.
Of course there is a reputation issue here too. It’s not only brands that can newsjack in a social media world. Anyone can create entertaining or thought-provoking content and sometimes this can cause a brand reputation issue. But it can also provide a potential opportunity for brand as well, with grassroots content generation.
I was lucky enough to be at Wimbledon on Thursday and witnessed the end of the marathon Isner/Mahut match out on court 18. I was therefore intrigued to see today a video of the match which has been edited to show a box of Weetabix in Isner’s bag at the end. Whether by the brand or not, it’s quick, entertaining example of digital newsjacking.
So what are the things brands (or non-brands) need to consider when newsjacking on social media:
- Be quick – as with all newsjacking, time is of the essence
- Be creative – as with all content designed for social media success, the more creative, the better
- Seed effectively – seeding content is also important – remember that the majority of information that is shared on social networks actually originates from traditional media sources
- Monitor – keep an eye on where the content is being shared, talked about and maybe even reworked
- Consider a follow-up – often the problem with newsjacking campaigns is that they are short-lived. Consider ways to lengthen the effect of any activity