Most of the time, social media marketers are working on a well-defined schedule. Weeks in advance we create content strategies that will slowly unveil a story about our brand or industry over time. The great thing about the way we can do this in 2015 is of course the social media itself. Our networks give us numerous channels through which we can communicate directly with our audiences – and we can do it instantly as well.
Indeed, this ability to be on the ball, as it were, with everything that our following might be talking about is an absolute blessing. And, generally speaking, we’re pretty good at it – especially when it comes to reacting to likes and comments on our own content.
We know, for instance, the great benefits to our brand image if we are quick to thank and reply to anyone who has engaged with our tweet, Facebook post, or latest blog. The reason why we’re so good at this of course comes down to some of the very basic marketing automation features that come built-in to most of these platforms – that is to say that any time a fan (or indeed a detractor) interacts with any of our published content, we get an instant notification from the host site, which means we can jump on it without delay.
It’s safe to say that most brands have mastered this technique by now – or at least they appreciate the importance of it.
But, since we can all communicate with our fans at the instantaneous push of a button, a new opportunity has emerged for us all to get our messages across to our fans – reactive marketing.
What Is Reactive Marketing?
Put very simply, reactive marketing – sometimes thought of or referred to as ‘agile marketing’ – is when brands very quickly create a marketing message to their following in reaction to a sudden happening or social media trend. What’s at once so great and so difficult about reactive marketing is the fact that these trends normally only last a few hours or sometimes a few days, rather than weeks and months.
The most famous example of reactive marketing done well is of course Oreo’s ‘You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet, that the marketing team managed to publish just 10 minutes into the blackout at the 2013 Super Bowl.
This is reactive marketing at its very best. Indeed, ironically enough, this very tweet is so good that even now, 2 and a half years after it went live, people are still talking about it – I for one have made reference to it in at least 6 separate blogs around the web this year alone.
However, the phenomenon of Oreo’s tweet is of course a one off – it has become the canonical example of agile marketing simply because it perfectly captures exactly what the technique is.
My point is that reactive marketing is all about capturing a moment in time, riding the wave of increased exposure, and then hoping for a spike in your shares, likes, follows and subsequent traffic. That’s all Oreo expected with their Super Bowl tweet – it’s just serendipity that has given it the longevity.
How To Maximize Your Reactive Marketing Efforts
Reactive marketing isn’t easy. In fact I would even go so far as to say that it is one of the hardest things to accomplish in the whole of the social media marketing game – especially to do it well.
Many marketers who attempt it will try their best to keep an eye on what’s going on in the Twittersphere and then think about how their brand may get involved. Of course, there will be certain calendrical events that are pretty easy to jump on the back of – Christmas is the obvious one, of course, as is Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving in the States, or even St. Patrick’s Day. But this isn’t really reactive marketing – you don’t have to be Nostradamus to predict that Christmas will happen again this year at the end of December – but rather hashtag marketing, which is something that you can and should prepare for in your content strategies throughout the year.
No, reactive marketing is something that you cannot plan for, and yet must somehow be ready for (I told you it was difficult). I say again, it’s not easy – but here are some thoughts and tips about the practice that you can take away with you, which I hope will help you equip yourself with the lightning reactions needed to respond to what’s happening in the media at any given time.
1. Keep Your Finger On The Pulse
This first one should really go without saying, but you’re not going to be able to create a reactive marketing campaign if you’re not aware of what’s happening so that you may react to it. Keep checking throughout the day the latest trends on Twitter – and keep an especial eye trained on what’s happening in the world of pop culture and entertainment, as any breaking news in these fields is going to garner a lot of attention.
2. Never, Ever Force It
Let’s say you’re selling power tools. When the power went out at the Super Bowl, it would have been pretty irresponsible of you to suggest to your following that ‘You can still chainsaw in the dark’. What I’m saying is that if you cannot come up with a tweet or Facebook post that naturally adds something to a trending news topic or hashtag, then just leave it well alone. Your fans will become irritated if you get it wrong, and, unfortunately, when brands make themselves look foolish, it is very rarely endearing.
3. If You Think You’ve Got It Right, Keep Tweeting
You’ll know when you’ve hit the nail on the head of something with reactive marketing. Everybody gets smashed around the skull with a stroke of genius every once in a while, and when it happens to you, don’t be shy about promoting it as hard as you can.
The reactions you get from your first round of tweets will confirm one way or the other if you’ve nailed it or not, and, if you have, then push it again. It’s very unlikely that even half of your following will have seen your tweet the first time around, so don’t let them miss out on your clever quip – because remember, once the trend is over, it’s over. With this in mind, it may also be worth promoting the tweet during the trending period to give it the best chance possible of going viral.
What are your favourite reactive marketing moments? Have you managed to pull off any corkers yourself? Let us know below!