HOW TO: 6 steps to creating reactive social media content
Did you forget to post about your office dogs on #NationalPetDay? Couldn’t decide what to post to jump on the Heinz beans on Weetabix debate?
By the time you’ve sat down to decide to create a funny and relatable meme for Facebook and Instagram, a professional long-form article for LinkedIn, an informative video for YouTube, resized to an IGTV, an engaging TikTok, repurposed for Reels and a shareable Instagram Story, the trend is already dead.
Reactive marketing on social media is a great way to put your brand in a place where people are already actively looking. Although it’s an easy opportunity to miss or mess up if you don’t have a pre-considered plan in place. Fear not! I’ve conveniently put together 6 steps to help you nail reactive content:
1. Reactive content guidelines
First and foremost, you should implement guidance around producing reactive content to prevent damaging your brand’s reputation. Those who run your social media accounts should be expertly informed on the company’s tone of voice and values as well as knowing which topics to avidly avoid, such as politics. Make sure you research the topic or hashtag before jumping on the bandwagon. Understanding the context around why a topic is trending can inform your decision on whether to join in or to completely avoid.
2. Identify which channels to use
It’s wise to decide beforehand on which platforms you’re able to spring into action. Because the LinkedIn algorithm doesn’t prioritise recency as a signal, it will often serve content from weeks or even months ago at the top of your newsfeed – so it’s not always the best channel to publish timely, reactive content on. On the flip side, Twitter is often the origin for trending hashtags and topics, with a dedicated explore page and the option for users to see posts in a reserve chronological order – so this platform is extremely well-suited for reactive content.
You should identify which platforms work for you and your brand. Perhaps your company isn’t on Twitter, in which case TikTok or Instagram can be great places to join in on trending posts too. Finding which channels work and where you feel comfortable posting content that you can make quickly is key.
3. Make it relevant to your audience
Before engaging with a trend, decide whether its genuinely suited to your audience, as not everyone is interested in whether a dress is blue/black or white/gold (it’s definitely blue/black!).
— LEGO (@LEGO_Group) February 27, 2015
As this great example by LEGO shows, you should use the opportunity to include your own creative spin that is relevant to your brand. Create space to steer the conversation to focus on what you have to say.
4. Minimise sign-off times
Regardless of the urgency to post, all content should still be kept up to your standards before published. To help keep content quality high, ensure that when you spot a great opportunity to react you notify your dedicated copy-writer, graphic designer, photographer, proof-reader – whoever you may need to create and proof the content in order to keep sign-off times short so that you don’t miss the boat.
5. Predict the future
Be prepared for upcoming events and potential moments to react to. At Social, we’ve created a “key dates calendar” where we’ve listed all the national days and key events that are relevant to our agency. This enables you to look ahead and prepare for days that the nation will be talking about – although of course, the best reactive marketing often comes out of nowhere so always be prepared!
— Specsavers (@Specsavers) February 27, 2017
As seen in the example above, Specsavers were brilliantly quick to react when the winner was incorrectly announced at the Oscars in 2017.
6. Know when not to react
Occasionally current events require an adjustment to your strategy. For example, upon the death of George Floyd, organisations and individuals around the world paused their regular content and instead posted a simple black square in recognition of his passing and the wider #BlackLivesMatter movement. A PR crisis or national tragedy could make your pre-scheduled posts inappropriate given the situation.
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