Tips for Real-Time Sharing

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  • 9/26/2017

    Ever notice how brands jump into conversations in a timely fashion? Whether it’s about the latest breaking news, the most recent change to an algorithm, or a trending topic or hashtag, brands that join relevant conversations on social media establish prowess and credibility. On the other hand, sometimes it’s not the best decision for brands to get too wrapped up in hardcore news or controversial pop-culture updates (but we talk more on that in another post). So how do you engage in real-time social media marketing in the most effective way that doesn’t rock the metaphoric boat?

    We’ve outlined our tips:

    • Monitor the conversations

      You have to start with real-time social media listening, a practice social media marketing pros use to help brands get in touch with what an audience cares about and is talking about.

      Start by setting up social media listening tools including branded and non-branded search terms. Brands can pick from a variety of free or low-cost third-party tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social or do some research into a more robust tool if needed.

      To add an additional layer to this, brands can conduct hard searches for keywords that audience use. Think hashtags, brand nicknames, products and the like. Searches can reveal real-time conversations, other websites or blogs the audience finds interesting and the general sentiment an audience has for a brand.

      Lastly, leverage the options the social media networks already give you to set up listening angles. Twitter lists, for example, are a great way to place key influencers and partner brands into one stream of sharing opportunities for that channel. Following specific brands on Facebook and Instagram can also accomplish the same goal by looking at your brand’s page news feed. There you’ll see up-to-date content representative of what these audience segments are trending toward.

    • Make strategic entrances AND add commentary

      What’s fair game to share or engage with? Well, we recommend that brands keep track of the lighter, less touchy subjects. Brands might look to jump on a trending hashtag that’s relevant to its audience or sharing a post from a brand influencer that’s timely and helpful.

      Take for example when the Canadian arm of Kit Kat jumped in on the #MakeLifeBetterIn3Words trending topic on Twitter:

      Not only did the brand add a relevant copy to the topic, but it pushed one of its slogans into the conversation without trying too hard. Rather than just adding more noise to the Twitter feed, the brand used the trending hashtag as a strategic way to reach its audience.

      If you’ve been monitoring your audience like Kit Kat then you’ll know which conversations work best for your brand. Keep the copy simple, especially if the post you’re sharing has a lot going on. Add commentary, don’t just retweet and repeat what the audience is already saying. That’s kind of pointless if you’re not adding anything to the conversation. Ask a question if you must or engage with the original content producer in a creative way.

    • Be flexible

      Let’s be real for a second—not everything that’s “breaking” or “trending” will fit neatly into a preplanned content calendar or editorial calendar for that matter. With that said, always be on the lookout for breaking news, trending topics/hashtags and other important information or updates to share in real time.

      In the case that you’re looking to share content, but nothing big is happening, look for upcoming events, partner posts and fluff (yes, the warm and fuzzies!) to share. More often than not your brand may not have a lot of breaking news to talk about.

      Don’t panic, that’s perfectly okay. When that happens, look to trending topics that are buzzing around the web. Maybe it’s a Twitter hashtag topic around #TacoTuesday that aligns with your company’s love for tacos at the office or maybe it’s as simple as a client tagging your company or employees in an Instagram picture.

      Keep the content and editorial calendar flexible to allow for real time content no matter what the case. Throw in social media listening to your planning and you’ll set yourself up for major success.

    • Show your personality

      Ever sit in a lecture, presentation or conference where the presenting speaker drones on and on and on about nothing? You’ve probably experienced this at least once and can recall how miserable it felt sitting there watching a slow moving train wreck.

      Likewise, brands who lack personality on social media are on a constant loop of boring self-talk. If your brand has to take a more serious voice (we know you exist), then use real time content to show off a little bit of that glowing personality underneath the business suit. Find the fine line between tactless and tactful and straddle that baby like a bull. Show off your humor, wit or cunning commentary on a new update in your industry.

      We do, however, warn that using that type of personality does not bode well with situations where lives are at stake or sensitive topics are being discussed. Always make sure that the trending hashtag you’re referencing in a new post is actually about what you think it is and not about something else. Moral of the story, read the room. If you can make a joke about some new idea in the industry, go for it. Just be mindful of how your audience might perceive it.

    • No pattern needed

      While yes, it’s a good idea to plan time to look for real-time content to share and engage with, you can’t really account for new trending topics that come at you like a herd of cattle.

      In those cases, grab a lasso and work some magic. But that doesn’t mean you have to write down “On every Tuesday of the month we’re going to share content in real time.” While that might help your workflow, it’s not 100% necessary. Like our above point about being flexible, you don’t need a map for real time content. If it’s too planned, then it’s not really in “real time” is it?

    If you’re still scratching your head wondering how to determine what to share and what not to share ask yourself these questions:

    • Is this relevant to my audience?
    • Will my audience care?
    • Why would I care about this post if I saw it in my own feed?
    • Does it add value to the conversation?
    • Does it inform the audience about the topic?
    • Would I be angered if I saw this post shared by a brand?

    If you have any doubt when answering the above, maybe just back away from the keyboard and try again later. There’s nothing worse than jumping on a trending topic without knowing the full story, unlocking the internet troll floodgates. Plus, when that happens you’ll have a heck of a lot of explaining to do and your customer service team might stage a sit-in.

    Sharing content in real time is a great idea for brands to stay relevant with audiences, as well as learn more about what gets them going. We highly encourage the use of real time sharing, but we caution brands not to go overboard.

    If you’re interested in learning more about social media marketing best practices, chat with us @thundertech.
    About the author:: Hanna Steinker is the Social Media Coordinator at thunder::tech. She connects her clients with the right channels, audience, and develops and executes social media strategies. She also loves her cat, a healthy debate and strong tequila. 
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