This guide, written in collaboration with user needs evangelist Dmitry Shishkin, is part of a series on writing news stories based on the news needs approach. These six different editorial treatments of a news event, focusing on other details of the story besides the cold, hard facts, can offer more value to the reader. This has been proven on many occasions in various settings. The ultimate goal of the user needs approach is to connect to the audience in a stronger, more meaningful way - creating more engagement and loyalty in the process and increasing the relevance of your brand.

New to the user needs?

In this part, we talk about the user need called 'Keep me on trend', share useful formats and writing tips, and - critically - when to use this approach. Let's have a look!

The user need 'Keep me on trend'

This user need is anchored in the world of social media and things that are trending there. It shows what other people are saying about a topic on social channels, or explains what a certain trending hashtag means or why it is trending. Readers of these stories are usually interested in sharing in the conversation and want to catch up on what's already been said.

It's also about belonging: if the reader is active on Twitter, or Instagram, chances are they’re interested in what's trending there. Being part of a community means being invested in what’s going on there.

these pieces are a relatively easy way to attract readers and bolster engagement

Why should you write 'Keep me on trend' pieces?

These articles are a good way to show your audience that you're active on the same channels as they are, and that you’re conversant in Twitter or Instagram or TikTok. If you’re a trusted part of the community on those channels, you’re more likely to be considered a good source of information for people who want to stay updated on trending topics.

These pieces tend to generate engagement and get shared more often, which creates a nice loop - or, as we like to put it, ‘story life cycle’. If you already have a team in place tracking social media, these pieces are a relatively easy way to attract readers and bolster engagement.

When to write a 'Keep me on trend' story

Right after a big event that's sure to loosen people's tongues on social channels is a good time to write one of these articles. It's also good to jump on the train when something starts trending. If you’re looking to create a follow-up to one of your own news articles, see how often your social sharing buttons are used and if you can gather some of these reactions for your 'Keep me on trend' piece.

ready, set, go

Getting started with a 'Keep me on trend' story

Writing these pieces will involve some social news gathering and investigation. Broadly speaking, there are two ways to go about this. You can either keep an eye out for what's happening on social media, collect interesting reactions on a particular topic and create your article. Or, you could wait until there's a larger event or story that you want to write about from a different perspective, and then start doing the research on the social channels your publication uses.

Useful formats for a 'Keep me on trend' piece

The most typical format is an article or a short video with lots of social media posts ‘embedded’ inside it, a collection of tweets or FB and IG posts.

A good 'Keep me on trend' headline

The headline should refer to social media reactions, so people will know what to find here.

Great examples of 'Keep me on trend' pieces

Dmitry's Pro tip

Form a partnership with your social media editors - their job is to know everything that’s happening on your channels and beyond, they are likely able to bring you ideas by the digital armful. They also are best positioned to create a selection of social media posts to help promote and amplify your story. Always remember that social media does not represent society at large, so if something is trending, it doesn’t mean that everybody is talking about it.