In today’s connected digital world, people watch news as it happens more often than at any other time in history. As soon as news “breaks,” it’s all over your mobile device and half of your favorite websites. The steady stream of news is part of the drumbeat of modern life.
It also means people everywhere have conversations about the same events at the same time.
Anywhere there’s a conversation going on – especially with lots of participants – a savvy brand can find digital marketing opportunities. Over the last few years in particular, hungry bloggers and social media influencers have made their names by capitalizing on breaking news trends.
Newsjacking is capitalizing on a breaking new story to increase your marketing punch.
The concept of newsjacking is a simple and enticing one: Rather than be at the mercy of the news cycle to shape your industry and the world around you, you can become part of the news.
By doing so, you will capture lightning in a bottle – in the form of energy and momentum that people naturally bring to news stories – and harness it for your digital marketing campaigns.
All you have to do is find some way to insert yourself into the story with the commentary, opinions, or perspective your audience has to hear.
When you do it at the right moment, it can mean thousands of hits. In fact, some marketers have reported millions of hits from a newsjacking effort that exceeded every expectation.
Because the results are inconsistent and unpredictable, some people shy away from this approach as a rule. But, there is a right way to do it.
Four Ways to Implement Newsjacking Overnight
To make newsjacking work, you have to move fast. As soon as a story breaks, you should already be building out your messaging and content. If you can connect your brand to the latest buzz in a tasteful way, you can ride the wave.
If your site is intended to be ultra-topical – or you just want to try out newsjacking – then you hopefully already have a plan in place to be among the first to hear about important news items. Setting up topic alerts at Google Alerts will funnel target headlines directly to your inbox.
Ideally, you want to be posting about a topic the day it trends. Be accurate, but don’t delay!
Once you have a news story in your sights, there are four ways to proceed:
1. Utilize Modern Social Media: It’s Built for Newsjacking.
Social media is all about newsjacking. Twitter is where you’re going to find the event hashtag for any major happening. Post relevant content to that tag as soon as you can and keep up the momentum as you release new content. Get involved in the conversation so more people will tune in to your updates and social influencers may pass your analysis to their followers.
2. Capture Newsworthy Searches With Paid Traffic.
In general, a news story bursts onto the scene, reaches a peak within a short time, and then starts to flame out. This cycle could last as little as a few days. However, some items combine both newsworthy sizzle and a certain level of longevity.
For these, paid traffic is perfect.
A few recent examples will be illustrative:
- Searches for all things Donald Trump exploded after launching his candidacy in 2016.
- Searches for health conditions tend to accelerate as soon as they’re on the news.
- Good and bad news alike can spike searches about international destinations.
When it seems like a topic might smolder for quite a while (or blow up even more, like The Donald ultimately did) it makes sense to break out the old keyword research tool and figure out exactly what questions people are asking about that subject.
That way, you essentially “newsjack” their search.
And you can position yourself as a topic expert at the same time.
3. Generate Explosive Buzz With Email Marketing.
If you have a large email marketing list or closed social media community for your customers, you can go a long way simply by introducing the topic. Be sure you have compelling, well-written content to link to so you can divert some attention from all the other outlets discussing the topic!
4. Participate in Forums When Appropriate.
Forum comments are a terrific way for small businesses, bloggers, and entrepreneurs to get hits from sites that cater to their audience. It doesn’t generally work as well with larger enterprises unless you already have an established relationship with a given site.
Newsjacking can be an exception, however, especially if you’re addressing a more general audience united in their interest in the particular news topic. Commenting directly on news stories, when not prohibited by a site’s terms of service, can drive thousands of hits over a few weeks.
Double-check the rules, including details like whether you can post inline links, before you start.
Three Crucial Warnings About Newsjacking
1. Traffic from Newsjacking Burns Out Fast.
Most of the time, a news story will be done within a week or so. People forget very quickly – and once they do, they move on to the next thing. What the technique lacks in sustainability, it makes up for in sheer impact ... if you choose the right topics and follow through, that is.
2. You Can Get Backlash from Newsjacking.
Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. Some topics, like crime and disasters, are too hot for many organizations to handle; others, like celebrity news, don’t match the tone most want. Be sure you have genuine insight and a helpful message you can deliver tastefully.
3. Yes, You Still Need a Real Sales Funnel.
As with all web traffic, hits you get from your newsy strategy aren’t magic. Once people get to your site, they still need to find kick butt content that will hold their attention. That, in turn, needs to help move them through a buyer journey in a way that makes sense for them.
Not Getting Traffic from the News? You Don’t Know “Jack”
Newsjacking won’t breathe life into a site that doesn’t have its fundamentals all taken care of.
For a site that’s well-designed, well-structured, and filled with powerful anchor content, it can be an amazing way to connect with people hungry for hot happenings in your area of expertise.
Take your first few outings with care, ensuring that everyone is in the loop: A social media team, or even the whole content team, should not tackle newsjacking without oversight until the brand has done it successfully multiple times.
This way, you’ll have guidelines in place that can prevent you from getting swept away with events in this fast-moving traffic generation strategy. Sooner or later, you’ll develop more mature processes and jacking the news can work like any other traffic method in your toolkit.
So, the answer to “Is newsjacking an effective marketing strategy?" is ...
Yes, if you do it right.
Move quickly but carefully, be attentive to how your audience is responding, and don’t expect newsjacking to solve all your traffic challenges – even though those waves of traffic can be huge.
If you keep those three things in mind, then newsjacking can be a jaw-dropping marketing technique.