6 Steps to Plan Ahead for Real-Time Activation on Social

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A well-timed social post during a live event is a great way for brands to get involved in trending conversations as they unfold. Posting in real-time during an event positions your brand to connect with your target audience and helps you reach engaged users during a captivating time. As the social landscape progresses, leveraging tent-pole events as pillars to build brand messaging has become crucial. This strategy is proven to be effective from both a branding and measurement study perspective. In order to make the most of real-time opportunities on social media, advertisers need to have a comprehensive strategy planned out ahead of time. Here are Adaptly’s 6 steps to planning a real-time activation on social.

1. Define “real time” and establish a timeline

The first thing you need to do is define “real time”. Is your brand posting as situations arise, say for each big play in a sporting event? Or are you planning on posting more loosely within the time frame of the live event, like once a quarter? Is your primary goal connecting with viewers or simply getting your branding campaign out there? It’s important to determine what you want to accomplish and evaluate feasibility. Map out what’s realistic for your team based on your staff, budget, and the amount of creative variations at your disposal. If you have a small team working with a modest budget and only a few creative options, you’re better off not tying your content too closely to play-by-play action. A safer play would be tying your content to bigger-picture outcomes and designated breaks in the event, rather than sticking closely to play-by-play action.

2. Identify the goal of the real-time activation

An important second step is identifying the goal of your real-time activation. This goes beyond just getting the assets live on time, and serving relevant content. At Adaptly we tell our clients to break the goal down into three tiers: the business goal, the campaign goal, and the media goal. The business goal refers to what the brand at large is trying to achieve. Forget the tactical details and think bigger picture – what’s currently most important to the CMO; what is your brand pushing? The campaign goal refers to what type of awareness or impact you’re aiming to bring to the social scene. What sentiment do you want to deliver during this live event? And the media goal refers to the granular specifics of the activation: the objectives, ad formats, etc. Once you know the answer to each of those goals, you will be better equipped to execute a successful real-time campaign.

3. Agree on a process

Our teams at Adaptly work closely with our brands and advertisers to set up a meticulous process for real-time activations. For clients who want to run sophisticated campaigns activated in true real-time, we often set up “war rooms” dedicated to deploying creative at scale. In a war room, it is important to have a designated playmaker who decides which assets should be deployed when. The rest of the team follows the lead of that decision maker to ensure that campaigns go off without a hitch. In terms of process planning, it’s vital to be cognizant of the “what ifs” and potential variables that can impact your brand. You need a contingency plan for creative that doesn’t go as planned. Decide beforehand if you want to pause or delete underperforming creative so there are no questions about procedure come game time. This will reduce room for error and ensure accountability across all parties.

4. Identify all possible outcomes and organize assets accordingly

Although live events can be unpredictable, there are ways to plan ahead. We recommend identifying possible outcomes or topics to post about and organizing your creative accordingly. For example, for a live sporting event, you know that one team is going to win, but that both teams will most likely make conversation-worthy plays during the action. Preparing creative that speaks to either team doing well or winning leaves you prepared for either outcome. Prepare branding creative and messaging that is not tied to the specific event in the case of a slow game with little action. And of course, it’s always a good idea to have miscellaneous creative ready to go in case anything crazy happens. Let’s face it, in today’s society it’s rare if something unconventional and meme-worthy doesn’t happen! See below for a sample of possible outcomes and creative variations to prepare for a sporting event:

real-time activation

5. Execute

Hut, hut, hike! If you’re in a war room, bring snacks, check and double check your internet connectivity, and be sure to have a clear game plan laid out. Make sure everyone knows their role and stress that communication is key. Align with your team on responsibilities stay focused. Get those assets live!

6. Evaluate Success

After the event, it is crucial that you evaluate your campaigns and report on any key learnings. Were you well-prepared for real-time action? Did your timely creative resonate with viewers? Which posts performed the best? Is there any content or any additional opportunities that make sense for your brand to continue advertising around? Delving into how the activation went can help you prepare for future events and fine-tune your strategy.

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