Timing is everything when it comes to social media marketing. Because the internet moves at the speed of light, it’s critical for social media marketers to stay on top of news, trends, and the overall feeling of the moment. When people go to their favorite social channels, they expect to see pictures and posts that reflect what’s going on that very minute. That means it’s up to you to meet those expectations.
The good news is that you can take advantage of current events and trending topics by engaging in the conversation and bringing attention to your brand. Social platforms offer businesses an unprecedented opportunity to reach people with the timeliest of content that speaks to their immediate needs and reflects what’s really on their minds.
Every day, every hour, every minute, there’s a story that dominates the news. Go to Facebook, Twitter, Google, or YouTube and you can immediately see exactly what topics are trending. If you can latch onto one of those stories—basically, hijack it—you can ride that wave and get noticed.
Most of the time, a trending news story will have one or more hashtags associated with it, so you can use those tags to help your post get more exposure. You can also direct your post to a particular person involved in the story with an @ mention.
What kind of news stories are particularly jackable? Topics that have a direct relationship to your business are ideal. For example, if you are a wine seller and a new study comes out saying that red wine is good for your heart, that’s a not-to-be-missed opportunity. You could post an article about the study, a photo of a glass of wine with a caption reading, “A heart-healthy treat,” or a product photo with a promotional offer.
But don’t limit yourself to the more obvious news stories. If there’s something happening that everyone is talking about, you’re expected to join the conversation whether it relates to your business or not. The Super Bowl is one of those events in the United States that seems to draw everyone in, including most businesses and brands. Oftentimes, people will talk more about the ads and the half-time show than the players or the game. If you can find a clever way for your business to take part, go for it. Or if you just want to call out your favorite commercial, that’ll work too.
Controversy and tragedy
One of the most important things to consider when newsjacking is how you’ll handle stories that are controversial or tragic. Getting involved in politics can be extremely dangerous, considering you’ll be poised to offend a large portion of the population. But if there’s a way to make a political story funny, feel free. For example, if a politician makes a silly gaffe and even they are able to make light of it, that’s the perfect time to join in on the fun.
When a tragedy occurs, you want to be sure that you never appear to be taking advantage of it. If you choose to express your sympathy for victims or try to raise money for people who are suffering, be sure to do it in a tasteful manner. Many companies and brands choose to avoid tragedies completely and opt not to express condolences or work to raise funds.
PicMonkey’s take: “PicMonkey struggled with this,” said Jenn Reiner, senior social media marketing manager. “Ultimately, we decided that the most sensitive approach during tragic times was for us to be silent and suspend our social marketing efforts. We recognized that during times of crisis, social media becomes a place for people to come together, and the best thing our brand could do was to just get out of the way.”
Similar to newsjacking, trendjacking hijacks a social trend rather than a real-world news story. This can be even more effective because you’re jumping on a social media-powered bandwagon, so it’s likely that your followers will know exactly what you’re talking about.
Trends that are ripe for hijacking can cover a wide range of topics, but the one thing they have in common is that it seems everyone knows about them. Remember the famous dress that was either blue and black or white and gold? How about the Ice Bucket Challenge? Or the Mannequin Challenge?
The key to taking part in trends like these is adding a new dimension to the conversation rather than just repeating what other people are saying. So rather than just commenting on how grumpy that cat looks, create a meme with him saying something about your business or product. Or if you’re a clothing retailer, dress up your dummies and stage a REAL mannequin challenge.
Holidays are perfect times to launch timely marketing campaigns that focus on your products and services. Unlike newsjacking and trend riding, where you have to be careful and clever about everything you post, holidays are meant for unabashed salesmanship.
Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day are prime buying times for many people, when they’re on the lookout for deals and gift ideas for the special people in their lives. Thanksgiving, Easter, and Halloween are all steeped in seasonal atmosphere, which can be reflected throughout your online presence. New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July are fun, celebratory occasions that promote joy and goodwill, so are ideal for posts related to parties and patriotism.
Here are some tips on how you can take advantage of holidays to promote your products and services and publicize your brand.
1. Update your profile and headers: Just like you might decorate your home or business for a holiday, you can do the same for your social profiles. Change your header or profile pics completely to match the holiday or simply add little accents to your current assets. For example, you could create a Halloween-themed Facebook cover replete with ghosts, goblins and ghouls, or you could just add a few strategically placed pumpkins.
2. Post holiday cards and wishes: Many people use social media to send holiday wishes to friends and loved ones. Your business can do the same using professionally designed, customizable templates or your own designs. Connecting with your followers and potential customers in this way helps to strengthen your relationship and promote positive feelings about your brand.
3. Share company pics and celebrations: People like to see how others celebrate holidays, so why not give them a glimpse of how you, your employees, and your family are observing the holiday? Post some pics of your store or office all decked out or of your company party. Again, treating your clients and customers more as friends will go a long way toward establishing trust and interest in your business.
4. Create special holiday promotions: Holiday promotions are a great way to catch people when they’re in the mood to buy. They’re also handy because they only last for a limited time. Since people often struggle to come up with imaginative gift ideas, you can use this as a chance to highlight a product or service that’s perfect for the holiday in question—whether it be jewelry for Valentine’s Day or silk scarves for Mother’s Day.
5. Post a DIY video: Videos are always a hit on social. Even if you don’t sell food or drinks, you could post a video of your favorite holiday recipe. Or instead of promoting one of your own products, show people how to create their own gifts. For example, if you’re a florist, you could give people a handy lesson in how to make centerpieces for their holiday table. Giving people tips and advice they can use will make them appreciate you and keep you in mind for future purchases.
6. Engage your followers: The holidays are a great time to engage actively with your followers and customers because everyone is more likely to be in good spirits and willing to take part. You could ask people to share photos of how they like to spend Thanksgiving, what their favorite New Year’s Eve cocktail is, or what they’re going to dress up as on Halloween. Christmas time is perfect for asking people to participate in a charity event or to give to a particular cause.
You don’t have to wait around for a major holiday to celebrate on social. In fact, lots of people get more excited about “hashtag holidays” than the traditional kind. Siblings Day, Pet Day, and Best Friends Day have become super popular on social. And holidays like Doughnut Day, Martini Day, and Hamburger Day inspire passion in food and drink lovers.
No matter what your business is, you’re sure to find at least one hashtag holiday that you can capitalize on. For example, on Trivia Day or Tell a Joke Day, you could post a fun fact or a funny joke that relates to your business. On Give Something Away Day, you could hold a special giveaway. And if you’re a small retail business, you’ll definitely want to take advantage of Small Business Saturday and utilize the #shopsmall hashtag.
If you choose to post about an obscure holiday, be sure that you make it worth your followers while. Say something clever or offer a special promotion related to the day. If you’re post is interesting and useful, they’ll like it.
While certain holidays have become well-known, some remain fairly obscure. Many holiday calendars exist, and they’re not all in agreement, so you might want to cross reference before posting. Also keep in mind that you don’t want to overdo it on the hashtag holidays. Take a look at the calendar and decide in advance which ones you want to post about. You might also want to avoid those holidays that fall right around the major holidays. Ideally, these will be used to fill in the gaps rather than to overwhelm your followers.
Here are some calendars you can consult:
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