Reactive Content: What Opportunities Are Right For Your Brand?

Whether it’s reacting to the Superbowl blackout or Kim Kardashian breaking the internet, many brands attempt to show their relevance and gain visibility by joining conversations in real-time. This is the basis of Reactive Content – something big happens and content is quickly created and deployed to ride a wave of existing awareness.
But, are all reactive opportunities right for your brand?
To avoid falling flat, or even worse, a backfire, here’s a checklist of questions to help you identify the reactive content opportunities that make sense for your brand:

1. Is it relevant to YOUR audience?

In content marketing, the audience always comes first. If you’ve honed in on your target audience and are in the practice of monitoring their conversations on social, you’ll have a general idea of what interests them. Does what happened fit within those interests? Are they already aware and talking about it? What are they saying? Making sure they’re privy to what happened, and are genuinely interested, is an important first box to check. If you miss the mark on what your audience cares to hear about, then you run the risk of losing their attention for all the other great things you’re sharing with them.


2. Does it align with your brand storyline?

You build an audience for the long-term by consistently delivering content that’s part of a single evolving storyline. The more you get off that path, the less clear your brand story is to them. Not every trending topic is going to fit your storyline, so avoid forcing anything in that feels like a departure. When it feels right, then figure out how the creative execution best aligns with what you typically talk about day in and day out.


3. Is your take on it unique?

By nature, reactive content opportunities imply that a lot of people are either talking about something or about to be talking about it. Your goal here is to contribute to the conversation in a way that enhances what happened and allows your brand to stand out. Take that extra time to see what’s already been said and find your unique point of view.


4. Can you put out quality content in a timely manner?

Reactions happen in real-time as soon as they’re triggered. In the context of reactive content opportunities, something happens and the audience begins reacting immediately. Individuals have the benefit of being an all-in-one force–social monitor, conceptual driver, content creator, and ultimately, the person that approves it. Brands don’t quite have that luxury. This is why having a pre-defined reactive content process is essential, which is typically just an expedited version of your proactive content process. At a base level, simply being aware of having this alone gets your internal teams ready for what may be coming down the line. A fire-drill in a classroom serves the same purpose, albeit with much higher stakes. The goal of having a reactive content process is to be able to produce quality content in a timely manner so you don’t miss the boat on great opportunities.


5. Does the reward outweigh the risk?

Risks can be divided in two ways: internal and external. The primary internal risk is the effort needed to produce quality reactive content. While producing Reactive Content may feel like a minimal effort simply because you have a short window of time to pull it together, in reality, the in-the-moment scramble can be quite time consuming, not to mention disruptive. This is precisely the rationale behind being able to quickly and effectively evaluate an opportunity as it arises, hence the point of this article. The external risks are a bit more complex since they are centered more around the subject matter and how risky that is. Serious topics – like the passing of a celebrity – can easily be construed as a cheap way to self-promote rather than an honest gesture, even if the message is completely heartfelt. Not that serious topics are impossible to tackle, but when in doubt, err on the side of caution by capitalizing on opportunities that allow you to express your more playful and humorous side.



If you checked “Yes” for the majority of these, chances are you’ve got a bonafide reactive content opportunity on your hands. Once you’ve decided to move forward, here are a few things to keep in mind to help maximize your effort.

  • #tags and @tags: If there’s a hashtag or user account associated with the opportunity, be sure to include those in your social posts.


  • Pay to boost: Nowadays, a bit of paid promotion is expected for content on social, so the same goes for reactive. That added reach will help drive visibility, even if you just target your existing audience with the goal of having them be the core group that engages with the post and increases your organic reach.


  • Engage in the conversation: Take the time to like and comment on other content related to the opportunity as a way to drive visibility to your own post.


  • Stand Guard: Pay close attention to what happens with your content for the time period following. Immediately responding will help drive more interaction.


  • Measure & Optimize: Track the time it takes to turn around a nice quality reactive piece and the results that come from the effort. Line those up next to your proactive content efforts and analyze how the two compare.

So there you have it. Be nimble. Be quick. But also, be smart with the reactive content opportunities you choose to pursue.

What has your experience been like dabbling with reactive content?

Luke Garro is the EVP, Content Director at GYK Antler and Creative Director at Noble & Cooley, makers of the world’s best drums. Follow @lukegarro on Twitter, and see him pound drums for Piebald.

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