In 2023, the same-day premiere of two vastly different movies broke the internet faster than we could ask, “What the heck is a Barbenheimer?”
In a highly successful cinematic PR stunt, Barbie and Oppenheimer turned heads as the biggest box office weekend during the pandemic era. Together, the movies boasted an $80 million debut. And it was almost impossible to go on the internet without seeing something Barbenheimer-related.
While the success of Barbenheimer was fascinating in itself, what was even more interesting was the way businesses across all industries hopped on the Barbenheimer bandwagon, eager to ride the tidal wave of this cultural phenomenon. Whether knowing it or not, these businesses were partaking in a strategy called “newsjacking.”
Below we'll teach you how to implement newsjacking into your social media strategy.
What Is Newsjacking?
Newsjacking is the act of capitalizing on the popularity of a news story or trending topic to attract attention and increase reach on social media. This can be accomplished through any type of content- from a meme to a blog. Successful newsjacking allows content creators to develop timely and relevant content, increasing visibility on social media platforms and engaging with a broader audience.
Newsjacking requires a careful understanding of the news story or trending topic, a relevant and authentic connection to your own message, and a timely and appropriate response. Here’s how to get started:
Step 1: Know What’s Trending
The first step in mastering newsjacking is staying informed about what's trending. You can do so by utilizing tools like Google Alerts and Google Trends to monitor breaking news stories, exploring industry-specific forums, keeping an eye on trending hashtags across different social media platforms, and observing how your competitors are newsjacking to understand the dynamics of your industry.
Step 2: Choose Quality Over Quantity
While it's tempting to jump on every trending topic, you must exercise caution. If a topic isn't relevant to your industry or if you can't find a meaningful connection, it's better to let it pass. Random content solely for views can damage your brand's trust. Consider your audience, maintain your brand voice, and be sensitive to potentially controversial topics. Quality always triumphs over quantity in the world of newsjacking.
Step 3: Find a Unique Angle
Once you've identified a trending story, the next step is to find an angle that connects with your audience and aligns with your business. Think about what unique perspective you can bring to the conversation. Avoid repeating what everyone else is saying and focus on what hasn't been explored yet. If you can't find a genuine connection, it might be best to scrap the idea and wait for a more fitting opportunity. A unique perspective will help your content stand out. And when you’re targeting a trending topic, standing out is a necessity.
Step 4: Create the Content and Post it Quickly
Timing is crucial. Once you've found your story and developed a unique angle, don't waste time. Craft your content thoughtfully, proofread it thoroughly, and get it published. If a trending topic loses steam, your post will lose relevance. Remember, the whole point is to gain visibility. When posting, use relevant keywords and hashtags to enhance the performance of your content.
Step 5: Monitor Performance
After posting your newsjacking content, closely monitor its performance. Compare it to other posts and analyze the comments and engagement. Is the response predominantly positive, negative, or a mix of both? Record your best practices and be prepared to adjust your strategy based on the feedback received. This is also a good time to take a look at how smoothly the content creation process went. Did it go smoothly, or was it a rushed mess? Take the time to record best practices and implement these practices next time.
The Dangers of Newsjacking
While newsjacking can be a powerful tool in your social media arsenal, it should be used sparingly. As we mentioned before, one well-crafted and relevant post can have a more lasting impact than a slew of hastily created ones. Remember, you risk losing followers and respect for your brand if your newsjacking attempts are not well-received.
You must also approach newsjacking with sensitivity and relevance. This may feel like a “duh” moment, but remember that trending topics are often so popular because there is a controversy of some kind. Ask yourself if it’s worth taking a side and risking a negative reaction from your audience. Misusing or exploiting a tragic or serious event for promotional purposes can backfire and harm your reputation.
For example, while Barbenheimer was a massive success in America, it faced a significant backlash in Japan. The Japanese people found the term profoundly disrespectful, given the historical context of the U.S. military's nuclear bombings during World War II, which claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This controversy even led to the widespread adoption of the hashtag #NoBarbenheimer. Imagine if you hopped on this trend as a business with partners or clients in Japan. You likely just lost respect and possibly an entire relationship. This is why it’s so important to do your research before hopping on any trending topic. We can’t stress this enough- know your audience.
Elevate Your Social Strategy with Thoughtful and Strategic Newsjacking
Newsjacking is a skill that, when executed strategically, can propel your brand into the social media spotlight. By following the steps above, your team can create something new and potentially build an even stronger connection with your followers.
Looking to get started or refine your newsjacking strategy? Our team at Instrumental Group is here to help. Talk to us, and let's take your social media game to the next level.