Storytelling and newsjacking with social marketing

Last week saw the return of Silicon Beach, the conference in Bournemouth that has opened my eyes to some really exciting things going on in the industry and recharged my enthusiasm for all things digital the past few years.

The running themes of the talks this year seemed to be the planning for the future and the importance of keeping the user or consumer journey at all touch-points of your brand at the centre of all activities. Two talks I particularly enjoyed were about brand storytelling and newsjacking and it’s interesting to see how these can fit together in digital and social marketing.

Steve Earl

In Steve Earl‘s talk, ‘A storytelling story’, he emphasised the need to think long-term when planning marketing, advertising and PR campaigns, and how different snippets of a campaign and different campaigns make up the overall story of your brand.

As Steve said, in the digital world and with all the different communication and information channels available, ‘we snack on information, we don’t sit down to have a three course meal anymore… Stories build up over time’. People get snippets of information about a brand from TV ads, tweets on their smartphones, Facebook posts on their iPads and emails on their laptops. So it’s vital that brands, marketers, advertisers and PRs all take into account the numerous different ways their story will be ‘read’, and how things work cross-platform and across different campaigns.

Thinking about the long-term can often go out the window, though, when a brand wants to make use of the immediacy of the tools available with a short and sharp push campaign ASAP. Jon Burkhart talked about the phenomenon of ‘Newsjacking’ on social media, which can be a great way for brands to capture people’s attention by tapping into the consumer zeitgeist.

Jon Burkhart

The best newsjacks are of course when it’s quick, almost immediate, and not . One of the best examples is Oreo’s tweet during the Super Bowl when there was a completely unexpected powercut.

Oreo win at Super Bowl marketing

Typically a very expensive fight for advertising space and attention, Oreo came out on top with a tweet and a little bit of time!

The great thing about this is that it is consistent with the rest of their marketing campaign, in terms of style and execution, and so forms part of a consistent brand story. In terms of forward planning, obviously this particular message couldn’t have been planned beforehand because noone knew there would be a power outage, but their style of marketing and advertising content lends itself to varying different circumstances.

There are some breaking news events you can plan ahead for, though. The birth of the royal baby was an event that brands had 9 months to plan ahead for, but unfortunately there were some very poor, rushed attempts!

If you’re going to newsjack, the most important things to bear in mind are: how does it fit in with your overall brand story? How is it relevant to your brand (don’t just jump on any news wagon if you can’t see a logical ‘fit’)? And is it a suitable event to newsjack (a tragedy is not a suitable event to advertise alongside. Yep, it happens every time, unfortunately there are a few fresh examples of 9/11 linked advertising last week).

So, basically, make sure you’re constantly thinking of the bigger picture and overall story of your brand, ‘listen’ to what’s being talked about and don’t be afraid to newsjack… when it fits!

Silicon Beach photographs from here.