When life hands you lemons, make lemonade. And when life hands you a massive security hack…make an awesome advert.
There’s never been a more challenging time to work in marketing – especially when you’re on a small budget. On one hand, the internet allows brands to connect with a larger audience than ever. What’s more, the seemingly banal act of “sharing” has been a game changer for marketers, amplifying their messages thousands of times for no extra cost. The result? Your audience is potentially your greatest ally.
But there’s also a catch. The 24/7 news cycle has made for a fickle digital audience; “trending” issues dominate online discussions, yet change by the day. The result? A failure to understand your audience can leave your campaign dead in the water.
No matter how you look at it, there’s an important lesson to be learned: for marketers, understanding the audience can be a make or break factor in your success. So how can you keep up?
Enter reactive marketing: the approach that puts your audience front and center.
If you can’t beat them, join them
Reactive marketing is the art of integrating your campaign message into the day’s hot news topics — in other words, your campaign taking its cues from the subjects attracting your audience.
What are the benefits of this approach? In one word: engagement. By definition, people want to talk about headline news (just look at Brexit), so linking your brand message with those issues allows you to tap into the ensuing hype of the story, and transforms your audience from an obstacle into a loudspeaker. Still not sure what we mean? Let’s take a look at an outrageously good example of this phenomenon in action.
Do you recall last year’s Ashley Madison hack? We do! Not because we enjoy scandal, but because the leak produced a reactive campaign so sharp, so funny and so memorable we still haven’t stopped talking about it. (Don’t you wish we were talking about you?)
The hack resulted in millions of cheaters being exposed to their other halves, and a PR nightmare for the dating website. Yet among the chaos, one company saw a big opportunity — and so 1800 Flowers ascended to marketing glory with the “Ashley Madison Field of Flowers Apology Special”.
Instead of business as usual, the 1800Flowers team took advantage of the ensuing media frenzy, seamlessly hijacking the buzz to promote their brand. We doubt that 1800 Flowers sold many of this special – then again, they didn’t have to. Because the real pay-off was the attention the campaign received.
The ad didn’t just make people laugh; its audacity also brought 1800Flowers to the forefront of the public’s mind. We’d bet that anyone sending a bouquet that week had a good chance of calling 1800Flowers instead of a competitor.
Luckily, nearly everyone has access to news – so how can you leverage current events to promote your own brand? Here are a few tips for integrating news hype into your campaign.
1) Break your brand message into keywords — and use them to set up news alerts
It truly is a golden era for news junkies. Never have there been so many news curation services available — all you have to do it set up alerts for topics that matter to you. News aggregation services like Feedly, NewsBlur and Storyzy allow users to curate relevant news content by keyword or name. By setting up notifications with services like these, you’ll always know when a story breaks that’s relevant to your brand — leaving you time to get creative with your campaign.
2) Curate news-quotes that fit in with your brand message
Quotes are incredibly powerful. Coming from a well-known speaker, they carry a level of trust and credibility your brand’s own voice simply can’t. Take the following example, a quote from the US President about the implications of climate change.
A poignant quote like this, featured in the news about the GLACIER Climate Conference, is perfect for promoting any eco-friendly product – from high-performance light bulbs to low emissions cars.
So for great social content that not only hacks into hot stories but also cultivates trust in your brand, make sure you check out who’s saying what in the news. One great place to start is Storyzy, the news quote curation service that allows you to curate brand-relevant quotes for your social media platforms.
3) Take advantage of social media monitoring
News travels — and it travels first on social media!
In an age when nearly every well-known individual has an online presence, you’re spoiled for choice in terms of big statements. Monitoring services like Mention allow you to set up alerts by speaker or Tweet content, so you’ll be notified about Tweets by influential speakers in your industry, or postings that are relevant to your brand themes. Republishing these makes for interesting content that also promotes your brand. Here’s a great example:
A Tweet like this one from Ellen DeGeneres— posted to celebrate national watermelon day (who knew?!) — would make perfect content for any vodka campaign. Not only does it put forward a delicious vodka based idea, it also comes straight from a source known and loved by many, making it all the more compelling. Just check out how many times this was shared!
Integrating this memorable Tweet into your campaign could see your brand benefit from thousands of extra shares, meaning a bigger audience and a better chance of your message converting into sales.
Finding great content is challenging, but not impossible. News and big issues are a fantastic source of inspiration and generate their own buzz. So for up to the minute content that drives engagement and conveys your brand message, keep an eye on the headlines – and get creative!
Kirsty Moreland is communications manager for Storyzy — a reactive marketing search engine that helps companies establish their identity by curating brand-relevant news quotes. The content found by Storyzy can be published to LinkedIn and social media channels as part of your brand’s bespoke marketing strategy.