Most companies incorporate strategies to improve their visibility online, most notably through social channels and search engine optimization (SEO). Through conventional, self-sufficient strategies, it’s possible to garner attention for yourself by building something out of nothing—reaching out to new contacts, writing about original topics, and making a brand that’s wholly your own.
However, there’s a complementary route that can improve your visibility, and in most cases, it’s easier and more effective. Certain topics and ideas achieve great visibility on their own, such as breaking news stories and viral content, due to word-of-mouth spreading and a natural affinity for keeping people interested. If you can leverage the power of these trending topics in the context of your own campaign, you can take advantage of their substantial visibility and earn more attention than you could possibly get with a topic you invented independently. The key is to find these topics and harness them effectively.
There are two major components to a strategy involving trending topics; finding appropriate topics and putting them to good use.Finding trending topics might seem tough—after all, defining which topics are trending and which ones are not involves walking a very fine line. Still, if you monitor an adequate number of sources and keep your eyes peeled for pertinent news and content pieces, you’ll have no trouble finding ample trending topics for your campaign.
Social listening is one of the best ways to scout for trending topics, since you’ll be plugged into thousands of conversations simultaneously and you’ll be able to easily determine the amount of social impact a given topic has. Many software platforms, such as Sprout Social, offer social listening as a feature. You can set one or a series of different keywords to receive alerts on, such as industry-related terms, subjects, or brand mentions, and watch for automated pings whenever those topics are mentioned in the context of a selected audience. If you see frequent mentions, or mentions that frequently get liked, favorited, or shared, you know you’ve found a winner.
You could also perform occasional manual searches on Twitter and other public social media platforms, looking for mentions of specific topics, though the process is not as time-efficient. A better strategy is to review trending hashtags, and examine each of them to determine who seems to be using them and why. Doing so can plug you into the day’s most important developments and focal points, giving you a platform for execution.
The biggest problem with this strategy is the time it takes to execute. While reviewing the trending topics section is relatively easy, finding industry-related developments requires a manual hunt-and-peck approach, which might ultimately be fruitless even after significant effort.
Aggregated News Feeds
There are hundreds of news aggregators available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, so take the time to find the one that’s best for your needs. You can select one with pre-loaded aggregations, such as readers with sub-topics related to specific industries, or simply customize your own from scratch.
No matter how you start your aggregated news feed approach, do some initial research to build the most appropriate selection of news sites. Include major news outlets, which will bring you news worthy of national attention, local news outlets (when possible), which will plug you into your local community, and industry sites, which will give you the rundown on developments in your industry. As you continue your strategy, you’ll have to do some regular housekeeping, weeding out any sites that don’t provide you with adequate trending topics to harvest.
In many cases, just glancing at your news feed will be enough to spark the inspiration for a new idea to harness. In other cases, you’ll have to do some deeper digging to find the right fit. Either way, a few minutes a day can really add up to a great value for your overall strategy.
Competitors and Industry Sites
Of course, rather than relying on the snippets of an aggregated reader feed, you can go to the sources themselves. Keep a running list of the most important news sites relevant to your industry, as well as your closest competitors in the market. Visit them on an occasional basis (daily if your industry is fast-paced, weekly if it’s slower), and get a feel for what they’re writing about. Even if you don’t uncover a great trending topic, you can at least draw inspiration for your general content strategy.
Now that you’ve uncovered a gem—a topic that’s currently in high demand within your industry or amongst your key demographics—and all you have to do is take advantage of it to increase your brand’s visibility. Fortunately, you have several options to do this, and many of them are quite simple.
Your first and easiest option is to “newsjack” the content. The term newsjacking was coined specifically for news articles which were used as a content platform, but can be applied to almost any type of trending content. The process of newsjacking involves taking a piece of pre-existing content, presenting elements of that piece (reworded and cited properly so you aren’t plagiarizing) and framing those elements in a context that’s unique to you.
For example, if there’s a news story about a recent technological development that’s going to impact your industry, you can summarize the facts of the article and then write a short opinion about why it’s going to be a positive or negative thing for the industry. Essentially, you’ll be taking the trending topic and finding a way to present it as your own. Then, all you’ll have to do is syndicate it on social channels, and you’ll get a strong portion of new readers interested in the rising trend.
Timing Your Posts
Depending on the nature of the trend, you can forgo the option of writing up an entire piece. Instead, you can simply make a short social media post or two acknowledging the trend and putting your company’s name in the ring. A great example of this is using a trending hashtag—so long as it’s relevant—in a post you tweet to the masses.
You could also write a custom message to appeal to participants in a given trend, which is particularly effective if timed correctly. For example, during the massive power outage of the 2013 Super Bowl, Oreo tweeted a picture of an Oreo on a dark background with the message “You can still dunk in the dark.” They took advantage of a trending situation and turned it in favor of the brand—and they did it while the event was still unfolding.
Capitalizing on Discussions
Last but not least, you can simply participate in discussions surrounding a given topic. If you found your topic on a particular blog, post a comment or respond to other commenters as your brand. If you found your topic on a social media channel, you can look for followers engaging in a related discussion and simply jump into it with your own opinion. You’ll not only increase the visibility of your brand, you’ll also build your perceived authority in the space.
Capitalizing on trending topics sounds a lot more complicated than it is. Once you’ve adopted the process into your strategy and you’ve practiced it enough times, it will become second nature to you, and you’ll be able to harness the full power of the most popular, timely topics available. Your potential visibility is practically limitless under these conditions.
Want more information on content marketing? Head over to our comprehensive guide on content marketing here: The All-in-One Guide to Planning and Launching a Content Marketing Strategy.