Navigating the news on social media is a tricky business. Not only is there so much of it to wade through on a daily basis, but because of the 24-hour news cycle and the way we use technology, one story might be popular for what seems like a split-second before another takes it place.
The pace by which news is delivered these days is enough to make you throw up your hands in frustration and declare that you’re over it all. Not so fast! Capitalizing on current events and trending topics can be an important part of content marketing for your small business, association or non-profit. However, it has to be done right or your efforts will be in vain, or worse, backfire on you.
We’ve put together a list of newsy dos and do-nots to help you find your way among the maze of current event topics and use them to your advantage on social media:
DO keep tabs on current events and trending topics
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in routine and miss something that your organization can comment on or use for its blog, Twitter account or Facebook page. Look at at least one national and one local newspaper a day and keep your eyes peeled for interesting pieces on the trending topic sections on Twitter and Facebook.
DO NOT post about a current event if it doesn’t relate to your organization at all
Your organization’s online community listens to you for a reason; you provide good quality content on topics that they are interested in. They find the information you put out valuable because it is information they can use or relate with. If you are posting about news simply because it’s popular, but it has no ties to your organization, it can leave your audience confused, disgruntled, frustrated and bored. You might get away with it once, but don’t make it a frequent practice.
DO set up a keyword alert on Google News
Google: The ultimate tool for newsies everywhere. The Google News tool is a great source for news from around the world. Setting up a keyword news alert will help you and your organization find articles to share and ideas for blog posts and videos. It will also keep you in the know about the latest trends and topics. As a bonus, the alerts can also help you find mentions of your organization in the news that can be shared or addressed.
DO NOT have a knee-jerk reaction to negative news on your organization/industry
The news you find online about your organization or your industry may not be all sunshine and rainbows. There will always be negative reviews or an opinion piece that throws criticism in your general area. Firing back right away is always the quickest way to create a PR nightmare. Instead, take some time to build a well-thought-out social media response and ensure everyone in the organization is on board with it. Don’t wait a long time to make your case, but have a strategy in place before you do.
DO be respectful when considering a social media post about a tragedy
Tragedies in the news are a sad reality and our first reaction is often to join the many others who are sending messages of support to victims on social media. However, many companies have seen a backlash against social media posts mentioning tragedies, such as 9/11. Before you post about a tragedy, think very hard about how appropriate the message is and its relevancy to your organization. Consider if a day of social media silence is better or if a post from your personal account would be more appropriate.
DO NOT wait too long to post about relevant news
In the sections above, we’ve mentioned that you should pause before posting about current events. However, this pause shouldn’t be too long. The 24-hour news cycle makes it easy for you to blink and miss a trending topic. Create a framework for dealing with breaking news on social media so that when it happens, you can cut down on the time you spend weighing the pros and cons of posting about it and get in on the action.
DO give a fresh perspective on a piece of news that has been trending for a while
There’s only so much of the same basic run-down of a news story that people can read. If there is a trending event that has been popular for more than a day, brainstorm a fresh way to cover it. Tackle it from a different perspective, find a different angle, make it relatable to a different audience and talk to people who no one has talked to before. Being fresh will give your audience a reason to read your material over the same old stuff.
DO NOT hesitate to break news yourself
There’s no rule saying you can’t make the news! If your organization has a newsworthy point of view, tidbit of information or an innovative new way of doing things, make it known to the world. Develop a strategy to market the news through social media, including which platforms you’re going to use, what your message is going to be, how you’re going to keep it fresh, which audience to target, how you’re going to make it newsworthy to the media and how you’re going to handle any potential criticism.