We are living in an age of content fatigue. Every post we publish on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and even on our blog is competing with millions of others. This poses a content creation challenge.

According to ACI every minute in 2014:

  • Facebook users share nearly 2.5 million pieces of content.
  • Twitter users tweet nearly 300,000 times.
  • Instagram users post nearly 220,000 new photos.
  • YouTube users upload 72 hours of new video content.
  • Apple users download nearly 50,000 apps.
  • Email users send over 200 million messages.
  • Amazon generates over $80,000 in online sales.

As marketers, we need to ask ourselves how our content can stay afloat in this fast running stream of noise. How can our Content Creation strategy shine? The easy answer is ‘create good quality content’ but as most of us know, it isn’t that easy.

In this post I’m going to show you one proven tactic you can use to create engaging content for your social media accounts.

Done well it can attract people to your brand, express your brand personality and get people talking. At worst it will fall flat or even upset people. That tactic is ‘Newsjacking’

We’ll look at:

  • What is newsjacking?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of using it?
  • 10 clever newsjacking examples from social media
  • 4 ways to find newsjacking inspiration

What is newsjacking?

Star Wars Day (May 4th) is becoming bigger every year. This year, NASA gained attention by creating a series of images released Star Wars Day based on famous quotes from the film.

Star Wars Day (May 4th) is becoming bigger every year. This year, NASA gained attention by creating a series of images released Star Wars Day based on famous quotes from the film.

David Meerman Scott, daddy of Newsjacking describes it as:

“The process by which you inject your ideas or angles into breaking news, in real-time, in order to generate media coverage for yourself or your business.”

I would tweak this description. Newsjacking doesn’t have to be about real time, we don’t have to capture breaking news. In fact, in most of the examples below the event being ‘jacked’ was pre-determined. Content creators had time to plan the posts they would share. For me this is where Newsjacking differs from Real Time Marketing.

Time and planning will always surface better and more relevant content than off the cuff marketing.

What are the benefits of Newsjacking?

Newsjacking is a gift to content marketers. Events and news can give us the trigger we need to create good interesting, on topic content. But there are other benefits too:

  1. Capture the attention of your audience. If you know what interests your audience, creating on topic newsjacking posts will attract them to your brand.
  2. Credibility. You will look authoritative if you are always on the top of news stories and events.
  3. Express your brand personality. In the examples below brand personality becomes clear. This works equally well for personal branding as company branding.

There is one major disadvantage. Your topical posts don’t have shelf life. Once the story is dead so is your content. If you are going to embark on a newsjacking campaign you need to be extra creative and timely to make sure it has maximum impact.

What are the rules?

To make sure your newsjacking delivers you should follow some guidelines.

Be tasteful – It’s not always right to post tributes when someone dies or in response to a tragedy. At the time we might feel that we are sharing a gesture but to outsiders it can look like cynical marketing. Unless the tragedy effects your customers directly or is in some way related to your business stay away.

Be on time – There’s no point posting about a news story or event days after it has happened. Make sure you post your content when it’s most relevant.

This graph from David Meerman Scott shows you the best time to post your content in a stories lifecycle.

Best time to post your newsjacked content

Best time to post your newsjacked content

Be different – Putting your own twist on a story is what newsjacking is all about. Your content will only work if it appeals to your audience. Remember, by the time people see your post they will could have consumed 10 or 20 pieces of content on the same topic. The only way to stand out is to add your own twist.

Be relevant – When you put that twist on your content make sure it has relevance to you, your business or your customer. This will help cement what you do in the minds of your audience.

10 Newsjacking Social Media Examples

1. Aer Lingus – House Of Cards

As a fan of House Of Cards this tweet from Aer Lingus grabbed my attention. Posted during the anticipation of the new series it was bound to capture the imagination of fans.

Of course only a House Of Cards fan would understand the reference to ‘Frank & Claire’. This makes us feel like part of a ‘club’ that knows what’s going on. A club that now includes Aer Lingus.

Aer Lingus Appealing To House Of Cards Fans

Aer Lingus Appealing To House Of Cards Fans

2. Lidl – Cat Going Up or Down Those Stairs?

The Internet went wild earlier this year for ‘The Dress’. This was soon followed by the ‘cat and the stairs’. An image where it seems unclear if the cat is walking up or down a flight of steps.

Lidl came up with their own solution to the problem, placing a bowl of their own brand cat food at the bottom, or is it the top of the stairs?

Lidl, trying to answer the impossible cat question.

Lidl, trying to answer the impossible cat question.

3. Ryanair – Royal Baby

When the latest British royal baby was born there was much talk about what position she took in the line to the throne.

Ryanair had recently changed their seating policy to offer allocated seating. This has eliminated the queues in airports they had become famous for. They are also known as a cheeky brand so this content is spot on for both their audience and their brand.

Ryanair comparing the queue for the throne to the queue to get on board.

Ryanair comparing the queue for the throne to the queue to get on board.

4. Innocent Drinks – Apple Watch Launch

This parody of the Apple Watch from Innocent drinks appeared in my LinkedIn feed. It made me laugh out loud and fits perfectly with their cheeky brand personality.

Apple Watch

Innocent presenting their alternative Apple Watch

5. Intel – Leonard Nimoy

The whole geek world mourned the death of Leonard Nimoy earlier this year. Intel paid tribute to the star with this lovely Instagram post. It will appeal to their audience and fits well with their persona.

A touching tribute to Spock/Leonard Nimoy

A touching tribute to Spock/Leonard Nimoy

6. HB Ice Cream – Garth Brooks Gig Cancellations

A scandal swept Ireland in 2014. We are a nation of Garth Brooks fans and when his concerts in Dublin were cancelled due to licence issues the country went wild. HB Ice Cream tapped into this trend with this great image. (For non Brooks fans ‘In Pieces’ is the name of one of his albums).

A message to Garth Brooks fans disappointed about gig cancellations.

A message to Garth Brooks fans disappointed about gig cancellations.

7. NASA – Star Wars Day

May the 4th has affectionately become known as Star Wars day online (May the fourth be with you). My newsfeeds were flooded with Star Wars related content but the ones that stood out for me were those from NASA.

Each post included a quote from the film with an image. This was by far my favourite. Once again, it’s an excellent fit for both the brand and the fans.

Just one of the May the 4th posts from NASA

Just one of the May the 4th posts from NASA

8. Aldi – Star Wars Trailer Launch

Aldi didn’t have to wait until May 4th to make their Star Wars joke. They shared this simple pun on the launch of ‘The Force Awakens’ trailer.

A smart pun for the launch of a Star Wars trailer.

A smart pun for the launch of a Star Wars trailer.

You don’t always have to be overly clever or humourous with your newsjacking posts. This one from the National Gallery of Ireland is simple but effective. Sharing images from their gallery and asking us to guess the picture gets us involved with the brand.

year of the sheep

A simple post that involves the audience and celebrates Chinese new year.

10. Quality Orthodontic Care – Earth Day

Newsjacking isn’t just for big business. Smaller businesses can jump on trends too. I love this from Quality Orthodontics. Instead of posting a generic Earth Day post they have paired it with a tip for saving water whilst brushing your teeth.

Small business can newsjack too

Small business can newsjack too

Where to find stories to jack:

Days Of The Year

This is one of my favourite websites. Every day has at least one celebration. Whether it’s Batman day, Zipper day, Poem in my pocket day this is a great way to get inspired.

Check these out every day. There may be something trending right now that you can tap into.


Feedly is an RSS reader. It allows you to subscribe to multiple news sites, news aggregators and blogs. Check in every day and you’ll spot the trends on the way up.


Scoop.it aggregates news stories revolving around topics you define. It’s more visual than Feedly and makes sharing simple.

Your Turn

Have you ever successfully used Newsjacking?

Do you have an example of a business doing it well?

I’d love to hear your thoughts and examples in the comments.