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The second article in our Social Business Future Gazing series considers the impact of real-time platforms (like Periscope) on the way businesses plan their content creation.

When it comes to executing a nice, neat plan, social media really sucks.

But let’s just hold onto that thought for a moment and consider the planning process for television advertising. Develop a concept, get buy-in, shoot the footage, edit and get final sign-off. That takes a lot of work, not to mention co-ordinating when and where it should air. However, there will always be a deadline to deliver the final “rushes”, and for the campaign to go-live. After that, unless things go really wrong and you have to take it off air(!) it’s more or less job-done (ok, excuse the slight over-simplification). It may not be completely straightforward, but brands can plan to get from A to B, from concept to go-live. And everyone loves a plan.

Unfortunately what we’ve seen in many cases is the same approach being applied to content published on social networks. A concept is developed, tweets are readied, cat GIFs are perfected and the content is scheduled for publishing at pre-defined times. There are two main challenges with this approach:

  • The world changes and content can quickly become out-dated (or really inappropriate), as per an unfortunate sign-off tweet from Tesco amidst the horse-meat scandal.
  • The two-way nature of social media provides an instant litmus test of public opinion, which is tough to ignore… say you’ve created a whole series of similar posts with dogs, but everyone hates the first one you publish. However, everyone raves about the one tweet you did about a cat… but there’s no more budget to create more tweets about cat. So do you keep posting about dogs, or Google “cat GIF, no rights restrictions”?cat-dog

However, brands are rapidly coming round to the fact that they need to be more nimble in publishing content on social media and the benchmark is rising. In 2016 this will further accelerate because of:

  • Audience demand: with social networks awash with content, brands must produce ever more exclusive snippets to engage their audiences. Burberry, for example, posted live updates (via Snapchat) of the finishing touches being added to their 2015 London Fashion collection.
  • Technology: platforms like Periscope are reducing the lead-time from creating content to publishing it… to zero.


So what are the implications for how businesses organise themselves in the future?

Ok, so not everyone is going to be streaming 24/7 content online, but the need to rethink the planning process is very real. The crux of the matter comes down to planning the actual creation of content. We see the implications of this being:

  • The proportion of content created pre-campaign will drop significantly, perhaps as low as 20%. For agencies and social media managers the vast majority of what they develop will be during the campaign itself, influenced by the audience’s reaction and breaking events. There will be an increase in the number (but reduction in duration) of meetings between teams to make this all happen.
  • The likes of WhatsApp Groups becoming standard tools for quick collaboration.
  • Brands who look to test the water with live broadcasts will find themselves needing to create new types of “issue scenario” and contingency plan. Never work with children or animals, right?
  • Activity plans will need to be more carefully shared with supporting teams. Let’s say a Snapchat story performs fantastically well, and customer support gets inundated with product requests and demos… were they prepared?

Going the whole hog and not actually producing *any* content ahead of time is both impractical and unnecessary. However, brands which manage to get the right mix, organise themselves efficiently and generally embrace the opportunity will see the benefits. So… will you be creating more content on-the-fly in 2016?


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