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Reactivity on Social

Senior Social Media Manager, Shaunni Howard, shares her top tips for reactivity on social, exploring the importance of key calendar moments, tapping into popular culture and utilising social listening tools to help keep your finger on the pulse.

Reactive Content

Shaunni Howard

9 Feb 2021

In a nut-shell, reactivity is any and all content that sits outside of your planned social calendar and campaigns. It’s an umbrella term which typically encompasses quickly turned-around topical content, but it can also include well thought out and more complex creative. You can be reactive on most key social platforms, but reactive success is most prevalent on Twitter and TikTok.

That all sounds great, but why should I care?

Reactivity is the epitome of social-first content; it’s relevant, disruptive and impactful. You'll engage your existing audience and there's huge potential to organically reach new eyes due to the viral shareability of reactive content.

Reactive content can be strategic, but primarily it’s quick, simple and impactful - which is what makes it so fun to both create and consume. Strong reactive content has the ability to transcend into meme culture and also set industry standards. Just look at American burger joint, Wendy’s! The fast food chain has become infamous for their quick-witted and well considered reactive community engagement strategy. Their sharp-tongue and ‘beef’ (pun intended) with their customers and other brands alike has now shaped the way the food industry behaves on social media.

Not every brand will be quite as reactive and conversational as Wendy’s, but there is absolutely a place for brands of all sectors and sizes in the world of reactivity.

So you’re interested? Here are some tips!


Anticipate being reactive around key calendar moments. We know this almost sounds counter-intuitive, but planned reactivity can absolutely work to your advantage. There are key cultural and social moments every year that you can forward plan to an extent. Think Bake Off, the Super Bowl, a royal wedding, award seasons and so on! A recent example; Nando’s producing their own version of Spotify’s ‘2020 wrapped’ on the same day the streaming service launched.



Tap into popular culture in an authentic way and engage when it feels relevant for your brand. Remember last year when the online game, Among Us, was suddenly popping up everywhere?



Stay on the pulse - use social listening to identify indirect opportunities for you to join a conversation or build your own content off UGC. Here and here are two examples of successful user-based reactive content we produced for our client, Nando’s. These TikTok’s achieved 2.6 million views and an engaged audience for an organic piece of content that only took 2 minutes to make - yes please!

A great brand-on-brand example of this was Aldi’s 30th Birthday Party on Twitter, which drew engagement from not only the ‘invited’ supermarkets but the likes of HMV, Lynx, Specsavers and The Gym Group, who all wanted to get in on the action.


Trend jack - Twitter and TikTok thrive on trends and users replicating one another. Pay attention to emerging trends and act quickly! Here are a few examples of trends and brands doing this below (likely already outdated by the time you read this because, as mentioned, timing is everything!)

The below popular trend of the Pope holding a ‘special’ item was very popular a few months ago, but see Oreo’s example of a successful ‘brand-safe’ interpretation - which sees them still participate in the reactivity but also omits the use of religious imagery.


Or there's the 'How It Started' meme.


Are there any risks?

Reactivity is exciting and the pay-off can be huge, but brands can understandably be scared to get involved. It’s important to make sure it’s your sport to play in; nobody really wants to hear a laundry detergent’s opinion on the Grammy’s, right?

Reactive community management is often happening in real-time, which means that having a clear understanding of your ‘tone of voice’ as well as guidelines on what you can / cannot say are crucial. From legal regulations, to just how humorous your brand is open to being, especially with ‘banter’; there’s always the risk that you could offend somebody. In short, it’s important to know how far you’re willing to go, how to deal with it if it backfires and how to move on from it!

Make sure whenever you’re producing reactive content, you’re avoiding a ‘Silence, Brand’ moment. It’s important to always question 'Is this really right for my brand?' and 'Is there any risk?’ before jumping on the bandwagon.