The Newsjack Hack

As real-time marketing has continued to explode ever since Oreo took over the 2013 SuperBowl during the blackout, newsjacking has been right by its side as a social media marketing tactic that capitalizes on relevant news: i.e. what is happening NOW. “Why should I care?” is becoming less of a question as marketers are finding ways to relate their marketing to what people DO care about. newsjackWhile newsjacking doesn’t have to be quite in real-time, the more relevant, the more effective it is. After all, you want to “ride the popularity wave” of a story before it crashes. What is essential however is that it has to appear seamless and fit in with the story naturally.

One way you can implement this marketing tactic is by linking your marketing to a trending topic. Twitter is a great social network for using this tactic, since it always has a stream of trending hashtags and there are many tools you can use to find which hashtags are trending within your demographic. Right now #OlympicPickupLines is trending, for example, and if you have a product that you can tie in (perhaps something that you can tie to Olympic sports, flirting, dating, sex, or something creative that has nothing to do with either the Olympics or pickup lines and you’re just brilliantly witty), you can expand your post visibility without having to resort to any sort of promoted posts or other paid Twitter advertising.

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While Twitter provides probably the easiest platform for newsjacking, brands have been able to implement it in their email marketing, blogs, actual ads, and other social networks. From well-known brands such as Spirit Airlines to charities such as Save the Children, many have been able to use newsjacking to their content marketing advantage, taking their marketing to the next level.

Newsjacking can also be used for B2B marketing as well, especially when asserting your expertise in a particular space. Social media professionals use this tactic often, inserting their voice into webinars, tweetups, etc. since the nature of the profession often ensures that those with similar interests will be involved in those conversations. This week I have been unable to attend #SMWNYC events live due to a busy work week, but through following specific hashtags and luckily catching some livestream events, I have been able to inject myself into conversations and act as a fairly active voice, despite not being present. As long as your posts pertain to the topic of discussion, and you respond only after active listening, you can become an organic presence in the conversation.

While newsjacking is a fairly easy way to tie your message to a topic with more traffic, it takes careful skill, setup, and precautions must be made:

  • Depending on your brand, you may want to check with your legal department before jumping on a trending hashtag’s bandwagon on Twitter, as it may “belong” to another brand/company, and they may ask you to take your posts down.
  • Be wary of tying into controversial or devastating
    news unless you have a very well-thought out plan to do so (perhaps as a publicity stunt). While it may make sense, for example, as an insurance company to tie your posts to reports of the temperamental winter storms that have been striking this winter, and illustrating how you can help, you are opening your brand up for potential backlash and outrage at exploiting the devastating effects the storms have caused.

Newsjacking is a great way to convert your target demographic’s interests into increased traffic for your brand, and is also an excellent tactic for potentially reaching new demographics that you wouldn’t otherwise reach. By tagging onto something people are already looking to because they find it interesting, you can then make them interested in what you have to share as well.