Responsive Social Media: The Secrets to Success


In days past, a catchy jingle and commercial air-time during the most popular prime-time show was all you needed to get eyeballs on your advertisement. In today’s world of social media, marketing successes are increasingly elusive, because audiences are so spread out and are watching less TV. In places like Facebook and Twitter, you’re trying to compete with actual news for a viewer’s attention, so you’ve got to be at least as nimble as the 24 hour news cycle—and at least as interesting. You need to think of your agency as a group of journalists and your brand as a publisher, resisting the urge to make all the news about your brand. It’s become a bit of a cliché at this point, but there’s a reason everyone points to that famous Super Bowl tweet by Oreo as such a success—they were able to cut through the normal delays and rounds of edits that usually come with getting creative approved and respond, immediately.

Your advertising needs to imitate news by happening with as little time lag as possible. Choose topics relevant to your industry and clients and position your brand as thought-leaders in that space. That might mean leaving your production calendar open for ‘reactionary posts’ and literally (or virtually!) creating a newsroom during big events to house your strategists and designers.

Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 1.15.30 PM
Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 1.15.30 PM

When it comes to creating real-time (or at least very close to it) content, the hold-up isn’t usually with your production team, but with the bureaucracy of edits and approvals. Developing trust and an extremely efficient line of approvals within your agency is make-it-or-break-it important. For example, for the past two seasons, Beutler Ink has partnered with the NBA to make daily social content, reacting to and anticipating games & player news. During big games and special announcements, our whole distributed team is signed on to Skype, Google Chat, and our project management system to keep in constant contact. We have an elaborate game of boomerang mastered that starts with the client request & delivery of initial assets like photos, the creation of a brief by our strategists, and then onto our designers, who use templates or previously started graphics to assemble a completed graphic. It's then just a matter of our strategist’s approval and my delivery back to the client. Because we’re on our game and in our digital command center, all of this can happen within a couple of hours.

This is definitely easier said than done, and the process takes time to master. Here are a few insights we’ve discovered that help make this possible for us:

  • Make sure you’re using a project management system, like Basecamp or Apollo, for production from end-to-end. The organizational benefits of being able to find and search through messages and files in one location is critical, preventing the chaos of multiple email threads.
  • Assign only one point of contact on your side to approve content and funnel that feedback to your production team.
  • Make sure that point of contact has the authority to approve creative outright, without having to wait for the say-so from disparate stakeholders.
  • Get VERY comfortable with brand guidelines and what makes legal squirm. You need to be able to be creative and flexible without running afoul of any established guidelines. I’m constantly surprised at I’ve seen brand teams approve.

Regardless of how you decide to set up your response to real-time events, be sure to keep the newsroom model at the fore of your mind—workflows similar to these have worked for newspapers and magazines for decades, and they work just as well for quick, responsive social media content.

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