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Reactive content: identify the moment

This step describes the value of topical content

Alongside your planned content, reactive content is a way for your brand to put its unique spin on the events of the day (or rather minute). This can lead to some of the most spectacular results if done well, but it can also be fraught with risks.

Risks and benefits

  • The risks associated with topical content are numerous, and several things can happen to undermine your efforts:
  • Timeliness – or lack thereof. An event or topic which would have been highly relevant and appropriate has already peaked and to start preparing content now would result in arriving in the conversation late, not making the best use of the opportunity.
  • Resource issues – whilst you have identified a current event which is gaining traction, your team or external resource is not available to produce the content.
  • Approval – you have no issues with the above, but you can’t get the appropriate person internally to approve the content in time.
  • Quality – you successfully publish the content, but ultimately, it doesn’t resonate with the intended audience and performs poorly.

To address these, you need a clear process for reactive content. It all starts with identifying your moment.

Identify moment
With millions of things happening worldwide every day, how do we know which ones are appropriate to bring into our social media?

You may want to focus on content which is fast growing in popularity but is still in the early stages of its lifecycle, hence it is yet to peak. Tools such as Buzzsumo, YouTube’s ‘Trending’ chart, Twitter’s ‘trends’ list and Google Trends will offer some valuable insights for this. On top of the mentioned tools, simply being active as a consumer on social media will help you stay alerts to topics and trends.

Whilst several key trends will be apparent at any one time, you should have a guide to what kind of things your brand will engage with, and more importantly, what kind of events you want to avoid. This ‘content grid’ from daily free London newspaper The Evening Standard, was leaked in 2019 and offers a revealing glimpse into the editorial room of a newspaper under pressure to generate maximum interest in its content.

The leaked content grid of The Evening Standard newspaper.

To download a detailed description of this visual, scroll to the “Downloads” section at the bottom of this step.

As ruthless and reductive as this seems, (many have criticised it as potentially biased and inflammatory), it is ultimately what all brands must do to clearly define which topical moments to engage with.

Join the discussion

Consider what a content grid for a well-known brand or organisation would look like. What themes do you think would be included in a content grid for one of the following brands: a) Starbucks b) AirBnB or c) GoPro? Share your ideas in the comments below.

Use the discussion section below and let us know your thoughts. Once you’re happy with your contribution, click the “Mark as Complete” button to check the Step off, then you can move to the next step.

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How to Develop Your Social Media Content Strategy

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