Edelman Digital played a large role in activating real-time social content during America’s Big Football Game this past weekend. From war rooms to real-time monitoring and reporting, we had a hand in key brands’ social conversations.
Joining the “social media bowl” was both challenging and rewarding, but most importantly, it made sense for our clients’ brands. Remember that not every brand should be present and active for every big cultural event – instead, brands must evaluate whether they have the right and the dedicated resources to play in the realm of real-time content.
Based on our experience, here are five tips for creating branded content for a live event:
1. Determine a Game Plan
It may seem like an oxymoron to plan for real-time content, but the secret behind the most successful campaigns is the legwork done in advance. The unpredictable nature of live events requires a strategy that leaves room to react to trends and audience sentiment. Clearly outline your reason for “showing up,” as well as processes for trendspotting, ideation, production, approvals, posting, analytics and paid media. Define the brand voice as it relates to the event. Establish a framework that acts as a filter for selecting real-time moments that align authentically with your brand story and key messaging, as we did for Volkswagen*.
Remember that some of the best cases of real-time content result from a combination of prepared creative elements (e.g. templates) and strong intuition for potential scenarios that might arise day-of. For example, you can pretty much guess the results of the coin toss, so why not plan for both scenarios?
2. Assemble Your A-Team
Make sure you have different roles for each member of the team to cover off on all logistics necessary for real-time content. Understand that not everyone can play quarterback – you need ideators/creators, listeners, trendspotters, strategists, community managers, production leads, legal resources and the people with sign-off authority to make things happen quickly. Real-time means fast and efficient coordination, so it’s important to ensure that everyone knows their role and where they fit in the process.
3. Be Prepared to Call an Audible
Once you’re in Game Day mode, you may have to amend your processes, but you’ll have the infrastructure and team in place to inform your minute-by-minute decisions. When the clock is ticking, you’ll need to determine when to comment and when to let it go. Ask yourself a series of questions in the moment to ensure you are making smart decisions. Is this an everyday occurrence or a buzzworthy moment? Can we comment in an authentic way? For example, when Denver had yet to score a touchdown, we quickly concepted and filmed a short video for Volkswagen that aligned our guiding concept of “The Power of German Engineering” to Denver’s plight during the game. For another Edelman client, Activision*, we knew the brand’s Call of Duty social community would respond well to a visual post recognizing Seattle for earning the real-world equivalent of an in-game achievement in Call of Duty: Ghosts:
— Call of Duty (@CallofDuty) February 3, 2014
4. Listen to the Roar of the Crowd and Respond with Strong Content
With the right technology and resources in place, you can use listening tools for two primary purposes: finding opportunities to map pre-planned, existing content to timely conversations and identifying new, trending conversations worthy of original content creation. In Volkswagen’s Game Day War Room, we used a combination of listening, trendspotting, influencer identification and image-recognition tools** to inform what to post when. We established foundational keyword taxonomies around general football terms and the brand itself, then plugged in real-time trending topics. Right as Joe Namath’s infamous fur coat appeared on screen, we tracked the trend and responded with a tweet that aligned with our sixty-second Super Bowl commercial. We also set up listening streams to search for relevant opportunities to proactively engage with tweeters talking about topics aligned with our pre-scripted content; when fans mentioned tailgating, we responded with this video about “hatchbacking.”
5. Embrace the Competitive Spirit, but Play Nicely with Others (particularly brands)
Engaging with other brands in real-time allows us to A) get extra exposure through their fans/followers, B) create a symbiotic relationship between like-minded brands and C) increase chances for potential press pickup. Wherever possible, try to pre-plan what the potential engagement might be. Is it a video spoof of their spot using your brand’s talent or stylistic treatment? Is it an image that marries the two brands together in a clever way? Or is it clever copy that plays off of the two branded hashtags? See how VW replied to this tweet from Victoria’s Secret below:
— Volkswagen USA (@VW) February 3, 2014
The process and best practices above can be applied to any events relevant to your brand, from product launches to conferences and panels.
What are your best tips for creating great real-time content?
This post was authored by Laura Goldsmith and Nancy Jeng
* An Edelman client
**Tools included Bottlenose, Dachis, Ditto and Visible Technologies.