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Create space by advertising around the news


I’m generally loathe to recommend brands touch the news when it comes to social media marketing. We’ve all seen highly inappropriate attempts to commemorate an event, like the beer display remembering 9/11, the pizza company accidentally glorifying domestic violence, the fashion designer using civic unrest to boost its brand, etc.


If it feels wrong, it probably is!


But that doesn’t mean there aren’t opportunities to (appropriately) promote your product or service around the news, particularly with social media marketing, aka advertising on platforms like Facebook or Google. In sports, it’s called creating space – when you move away from the opponent to open up new opportunities to get the ball or puck and score. It means using your opponents’ positioning to your advantage.


You can do this in ways that are appropriate and effective.


Here’s an example. Say you are a meal-delivery service. Your main competition has an IPO, and there is lots of press around it. With the increased visibility of your competition and industry, you have an opening to elbow into the conversation. By targeting your competitor’s audience, which may be very close to yours, and giving them an incentive to think about you – a coupon code or a free trial, etc. – you create space.


If you’re a financial adviser, and an A-list firm has been in the news for defrauding customers, ethical violations or poor performance, you can create a social-media ad campaign positioning your company as a trusted adviser, an ethical solution, a results-oriented organization.


A pizza chain, a toy manufacturer, an energy provider, a ride-hailing company…almost any business can find a way to create space, taking advantage of their competitors or other news in their industry or city. A transit worker strike? A perfect opening for a rickshaw operator. A romaine recall? Time for meat-lovers pizza! A coal plant has shut down? Bingo, an opening for an alternative energy provider.


One of the most beautiful things to watch, in my view, is a good hockey team that moves the puck around well in the offensive zone. It’s called cycling the puck. Players don’t stay in one place. They skate to strategic spots on the ice, maneuvering around their opponents, getting open to receive a pass. They pass, shoot and, hopefully, score.


Creating space. It’s a beautiful thing.

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