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How To React To Breaking News On Social Media

Staying on trend and being part of the conversation. Sounds like something your parents might ask for advice about. However it’s also something that brands and businesses are always competing to do, especially on social media. With news breaking so rapidly now, via Twitter especially, companies have started putting themselves into those conversations so they increase their brand awareness but also present an image of themselves as personable and fun. It can provide great success, look at Paddy Power and Tesco Mobile for instance. Both have reputations for being fun on social media.

There are pitfalls of course. It doesn’t work when a business starts responding to political news, even it does look funny. It doesn’t work if your business isn’t related to the subject either, why would a logistics business suddenly comment on something the American president has said? It looks forced and, with users now enjoying calling out bad business practice, it’s bound to get the wrong reaction.

So how should you handle breaking news?


Let’s start with the why? Why should you respond to the news that’s just broken? The main question is, does it relate your business? Would commenting on this piece of news make sense? If yes, then perfect, we can turn this into something that could gain you some free exposure. Perhaps it isn’t news but something cultural that’s just been announced. A new tv series release date or the latest iPhone update, it still has to make sense that your business is commenting on this trending topic. Do not be tempted even if you think it would be a brilliant piece of content, if the news wouldn’t relate to the business you’re in. Save it for your personal profile instead. Worst case scenario, if you do comment, people following the trend notice and call it out as forced and then you have negative attention to deal with instead. You’ve been warned!


How? You’ve seen the breaking news, it’s something you think you can respond to but the question is how? The brutal truth is that you don’t have long! Respond on the same day at the very least, by tomorrow it will be old news. If you can respond within the first few hours of it breaking then perfect. The most time efficient way is to share or retweet the news and add your own comment to it. People will be looking for the content but then also see your companies spin on it. Humour is a dangerous tool, it’s very difficult to get it right but if you’re confident in adding some humour in, then this is a great route to grab attention. If not, can you agree with the content? Don’t be afraid to have an opinion, people will react more if they can agree/disagree with you. Disagreement isn’t bad either, it creates conversation and thus more exposure. Don’t spend ages trying to develop a clever response or asking a designer to create something. There isn’t enough time. If there’s news you can plan for ahead of time then you can create a bespoke response but this doesn’t apply to breaking news.

When? As we mentioned earlier, make sure to respond to the news itself within the day it has broken. Any longer and it won’t look natural and more likely, a forced attempt to have an opinion. Look at how people are responding too. Is the mood positive or negative? This can help you plan your response to make sure it doesn’t jar with the general mood on social media. Therefore, give it time. Don’t feel the pressure to respond within minutes! There might be news you feel can be commented on every week or more. Don’t over do it. Take a less is more approach, otherwise people will expect it and not respond as often compared to a few pieces every month. If you have an ‘always on’ policy for social media, (always online and posting live), then this can allow you to respond more frequently. If you’re content is mostly planned out however, it’s best to avoid regular breaking news content.Screen Shot 2018-08-16 at 11.56.12

If you can follow the above rules, then you should be safe from being called out on social media but also be able to create content that can gain you extra exposure from being part of a trending conversation. If you’re not sure, use you’re own personal profile to test an idea out and see how it looks. It’s easier to remove bad ideas from a personal account than via a larger business profile!


Thinking of adding breaking news and trending content to your social media plan but not sure how? Get in touch with Cunning Plan and we’ll be happy to help!