Trending terms – should content reflect short term fads?

Aug 10th, 2016

It will come as no surprise to find that a certain sporting event occupies 16 of the top 20 trending search terms in the UK this week, but should marketing seek to capitalise on large, but short-lived events?

The practice of ‘newsjacking’ is by no means a new thing these days – in fact, Hubspot was kind enough to furnish us with a ‘complete guide’ back in 2012, while blogs on the best examples have proliferated in the years since. The chances are that the majority of brands now indulge in newsjacking without even thinking about it.

As the Hubspot piece (linked to above) mentions, in the industry they and Click Consult both occupy, our reporting on algorithm updates and SERPs display changes are fundamentally newsjacking – we report on industry-relevant changes in order to offer relevant and informative content to our respective audiences, which has the benefit to us of driving traffic to the site and raising organic visibility while benefitting our readers with up-to-date, actionable insights.

However, newsjacking long went beyond the realms of the ‘industry specific’ – to the extent that the most popular hashtags will be littered with tangential posts from brands looking to capitalise on the big Twitter trends of the day, and blogs will fill with ‘[#] Things We Can Learn From [Recent Event] About [Unrelated Industry]’ – they’re fun to write, they drive traffic and they appeal to the metaphor-lover in any writer. But if everyone is doing the same thing, is it possible that ‘not-doing’ could be the new ‘doing’?

In a recent eBook, the idea that content marketing should have long term and replicable effects was put forward – which is essentially the exact opposite of the idea behind newsjacking and creating content in order to capitalise on trends. This is not to say that it isn’t a good thing to indulge in – just that it shouldn’t form the foundations of a content strategy. Take the following ‘sessions’ graphs:

Newsjacking vs. Evergreen

As you can see from the first graph, the initial performance of the ‘newsjacking’ piece – catering to a particular celluloid anniversary – is great, it earned its traffic (and links) and then as the anniversary passes, its performance wanes. The second example is a piece of evergreen content on the use of data which, while never hitting the highest spike in traffic of the former, has consistently driven traffic to the site over a much longer period.

To answer the question I can imagine is being asked, this does not mean that all content should be produced with extended lifespan in mind, just that it is those pieces that should form the foundation of your content strategy. In an increasingly crowded sphere, trending terms should only be catered to on occasions where a brand can really make a difference. Of course, if your brand has built a reputation of quick-out-of-the-blocks news responses then you don’t require encouragement to continue, but for brands new to search marketing or looking to change their approach, ensuring that you indulge in things only with a reasonable chance of success is the aim.

This means differentiating between things that might be fun to write and things which represent a genuine opportunity for the brand. Though there has been much discussion, pun and metaphor torturing in the lead up to the current sporting spectacular (the one with the medals, not the coming football season), with various gold medal titles mentioned and discarded, with every day Twitter trends leading to heated discussions about possible titles for articles or posts that will never be written, we occasionally allow ourselves to overstep our industry, but only for genuine enjoyment, not simply for the sake of it.

This is key for any brand – the modern consumer is can tell if a brand is inserting itself inorganically into a discussion, hence the reason that many of the better newsjackers are especially ‘meta’ about their efforts, both accepting their intentions and making fun of them all at once. Choose your targets wisely, react quickly and decisively, but use trends sparingly and with caution – if newsjacking is performed at the expense of other projects which may offer longer lasting rewards, it can be counterproductive. The bread and butter of content production is to build the brand’s presence and traffic organically and while the brief peak of a successful trending topic post is good for the morale, it may not be as good as it’s more pedestrian, less current, competition.

To find out more about our approach to content, why not download The Science Behind Content Marketing, or check out our other blogs and resources. Alternatively, contact us today to see what we can do for your brand.

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