Social Media Strategy: How to Be Proactively Reactive
“We want to be the Paddy Power of our industry!”
As a communications professional, that’s the last thing you want to hear from a client, for two key reasons:
- Your industry probably doesn’t want or need a Paddy Power.
- You don’t really want to be Paddy Power (and even if you do, you’ll get in your own way).
To execute a truly worthy reactive social media strategy, in addition to a team of extremely creative and witty content producers, you need to be controversial, have minimal sign off / compliance procedures, have the time and resource to produce content quickly, and be prepared to drop out the sales pitch entirely. Of all the clients who’ve ever said this to me, very few have ever been able to deliver on all of that consistently.
However, the fact is that when reactive social media content is done well, the rewards are enormous. So how can brands lacking in flexibility and speed still capitalise on it?
Answer: Fake it.
A simple concept…
One of the core reasons reactive content works so well for brands is that consumers appreciate intelligent and timely advertising, PR and content marketing. So rather than waiting for news to break, focus on the stories we can predict.
Whether a single moment of importance or an annually recurring seasonal event, every client and industry will have significant “hot topics”. During these periods, social media audiences will have a heightened desire for content on the topic. Whether a funny video clip, a witty comment, a unique stat or a blog post, content that was good on any other day becomes excellent on that day.
…and a simple formula!
Relevant “hot” topic + clever timing + unique content = success!
By following this simple formula, we can produce content ahead of the event, negating problems caused by sign off procedures and allowing for greater investment and more creativity. Of course, the hard part is bringing the formula to life, which is where we come in.
From social listening to Google trends, there are a vast array of tools available. Combining these with manual approaches to social media auditing, identifying relevant community and forums trends, and historical analysis of relevant publisher content allows us to paint a picture of what our audience will be talking about. The important thing here is relevance. Creating tenuous links will generate the opposite effect – it will feel forced and audiences will call you out for it.
When it comes to timing, there are two approaches. The first is to create a calendar of the identified hot topics and factor in the anticipated interest levels. This helps ensure that we always have planned content and allows us to prioritise topics.
But it doesn’t always need to be so complicated. Whilst you will want to have a plan, be flexible and allow for additional content. A fashion brand can confidently predict that Kim Kardashian will post a provocative selfie at some point, the same as a music ticket platform can predict that Justin Bieber will do something untoward on his tour. Just because you can’t predict when it will happen doesn’t mean you can’t have content prepared for when it does. The key is patience and waiting for the right time.
Of course, identifying what topic to talk about and when to talk about it isn’t enough – you need something original to say. The advantage of planning ahead is being able to invest more time in ideation and content creation. Anything from unique survey stats to funny anecdotes, and data visualisation to video – the important thing is that they provoke a reaction. Whether humorous, nostalgic, educative, informative or ego-boosting, it needs to give the audience a reason to share it.
Tips for success
- As mentioned previously – make sure it’s relevant. Tenuousness is the downfall of many a mediocre social media marketer.
- Either shout loud out or keep quiet! Broad seasonal events carry big rewards if you get it right, but can you really compete with Coca Cola? Play to your brands strengths and avoid the noise where possible.
- Really question whether it’s a hot topic at all? Does anyone care about Movember anymore? Are people actually aware it’s Spaghetti Awareness Day? No, is the simple answer. That’s lazy PR and you must dig deeper than that to discover what audiences really want.
For more information on our how we can help you with social media, PR and content marketing, get in touch!