Social media has revolutionized the way people talk about news and major events. Really, it is just natural. When you hear about an interesting event or news story, what do you want to do? Most want to share the news with their friends and family, maybe even share their opinion. Over the past few years, people have turned to social media.
As a result, there is a huge spike in social media usage around major cultural events. This includes breaking news stories, major sporting events, really anything that spurs discussion.
For instance, the Supreme Court of the United States just recently ruled that same-sex marriage is legal across the entire United States for the first time. Social media users flocked to their favorite platforms to share their opinions. This is the activity chart for the week of the decision. The decision came on Friday, and you can see Facebook use increase exponentially.
Facebook activity today…. pic.twitter.com/mRaOZnLDMB
— crowdtangle (@crowdtangle) June 26, 2015
For businesses and brands, this is marketing gold. They want to take advantage of the increased social media usage to try and get their message in front of as many people as possible. Unfortunately, these spikes are fleeting, and so businesses have to act quickly, and sometimes acting too quickly opens your business up for mistakes. Here’s how to leverage breaking news and events on social media.
A lot of cultural events are scheduled. The Super Bowl, America’s largest sporting event, is always on the first Sunday of February and the teams are determined 2 weeks in advance. You can plan for both possible outcomes, and you’ll know when there will be the most attention on social media. Try to plan ahead whenever possible.
…But Not Too Far Ahead
While it is okay to think of a plan for scheduled events, it is never a good idea to schedule or automate your social posts in advance. You don’t know what could happen during the event that may affect the way your customers interpret the post. Be sure to give yourself a chance to re-evaluate your plan before posting.
Don’t get too cute
Most brands that get themselves into trouble posting during newsworthy events usually do so because they are trying to get too cute or use humor that some may find offensive. It is okay to keep it simple. You can mention an event and express your opinion and/or support without resorting to humor. This will mean you can take advantage of the spike in traffic to the social media sites without risking offense to a portion of your customer base.
Sometimes it’s okay not to post
This is probably the biggest tip of advice I can give you. Not every news story has to be commented upon by your business and brand, and your customers don’t expect you to say anything. Sometimes it is best to stay silent. When thinking about posting about an event, think about your brand and your strategy. If you don’t think a post will help you achieve your branding goals, you probably shouldn’t post.
For instance, a local plumber is considering posting about the success of the local baseball team. This plays into their strategy because it increases the use of their hometown in their social posts, which can help in their search rankings. In this case, it is a great idea to post. But most political news stories won’t necessarily improve the plumber’s desired branding. In these cases, further evaluation may be necessary before posting. It may be best just to stay silent.
The spike in social media usage during major events is too significant to ignore, but acting without strategy or a goal can actually be a negative for your business. Take the time to evaluate the issue or event before posting, and think about the potential consequences of your post before hitting send.
Is there a particular news story or event that your business posted about that got your page more engagement and more visitors? Tell me your story in the comments below.
Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC.