How to up your game with reactive content at scale

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As the number of platforms and possible ways that we can connect brands to consumers is constantly increasing, so too is the amount of online conversation. Content marketers believe that increased conversation is a great thing, but really, it's becoming so much harder to cut through the noise and reach target audiences with social media, blog posts and digital PR campaigns.

Reactive or “newsjacking” content is a great way to growth-hack your client’s online reach and levels of engagement. These opportunities to newsjack, let’s call them “moments”, are a great way to increase brand awareness and drive traffic to your brand’s site.

Highsnobiety’s blog post on 2018 World Cup fashion may just look like a regular blog post, however, this timely piece capitalised on the World Cup buzz and gained significant traction. The post gained 217 Facebook shares, 47 Twitter shares and 10 backlinks.

This piece would have been easy to create, considering all the information provided in the article is freely available online. It’s a classic example of how, with a bit of old-fashioned desk research, you can produce quality content on a minimal budget. But would this post have received as much engagement if it wasn’t posted at the perfect time? Probably not.

So now you've done your research on your audience's hobbies, interests and events relevant to the industry you're operating in, it's time to explore how you can ideate and produce successful reactive content at scale.

Invest in a tech stack & delegate ownership of opportunity assessment

Most brands and agencies invest in tools and platforms for tasks like social listening, press monitoring and tracking changes in search data. However, you also need to think about streamlining the process between a spike in brand mentions or mass press coverage on a particular topic and your ability to leverage it.

Alerts and notifications should become your team’s new best friend. Is there any way you can automate this process and delegate ownership to a member of your marketing team? Consider using social listening reports and signing up to receive journalist requests and Google Alerts for topics relevant to you or your client.

If the answer is yes, this will speed up the time it takes to catch wind of an opportunity - and therefore the chance for your brand to capitalise from it. Ideally, this person would be a creative and able to recognise which opportunities are worth pursuing.

Template, automate, create

Whether you’re looking to jump on reactive moments for social media, hub or hero content, automating the process will reduce lead time, ultimately freeing you and your team to focus on other things. Specsavers did just this during the 2017 Oscars, with an image scheduled to go live at the push of a button.

Templating should be an important part of your automation toolkit for marketers both agency side and in-house. You could create templates for the following:

  • Social media posts
  • Social assets (cover images, event images & post images)
  • Blog posts
  • Press releases
  • Outreach emails

Each of the above template categories should have a few variants, pre-personalised, to further speed up the process. Controlling the workstream this way means that for example, at scale, the employee responsible for scheduling social posts has something that offers guidance and requires adaptation, rather than producing it from scratch. You could even prepare assets to publish in real-time, á la Oreo during the 2013 Superbowl. We know this example is a golden oldie, but it’s one of the best examples of reactive on social.

During the Superbowl, New Orleans suffered a large-scale power outage. The marketing team at Oreo seized this opportunity to Tweet a photo of an Oreo in the dark, followed by the line “You can still dunk in the dark”, received mass engagement on social media. This was likely using a template asset, font and logo which were all lined up waiting to capitalise on a real-time moment. All they needed to do was a minor image edit and input copy.

Streamline your sign-off process

It’s not only lead time that can make or break a campaign or strategy. Delays in sign-off are one of the main reasons for missed moments. Here’s how:

  • Sign off between in-house marketer and brand, or agency marketer and client, needs to be traceable and agreed. The people who can give approval need to be clearly identified and cover arranged for holidays
  • Reduce the approval windows and get all parties to adhere to them
  • Ensure feedback is given promptly and amendments made as quickly as possible
  • Dependent on levels of trust between parties, removal of the requirement for sign off can speed up lead time massively - but, of course, this carries risks

Adhering to the above guidelines and streamlining your process to reduce the lead time between receiving a notification and being able to publish a piece of content will make you more able to capitalise on opportunities to newsjack.

Alys Gorton, content executive, Croud

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