To meme or not to meme

In a week that’s seen plenty of political drama, the launch of Love Island and England moving one step closer to bringing it home, there have been plenty of funny memes and reactive content being fired around.

So, should your brand be getting involved?

Reactive content presents a great opportunity to humanise your brand, connect with new audiences and boost your reach.

But, you need to make sure any reactive activity is aligned with your overall social strategy and business goals. Staying on brand is key. If used in the right circumstances amongst a relevant audience, reactive social content can be a valuable part of your wider social strategy.

In this article, we’re answering a handful of ‘how’s?’ we’ve heard from brands, as well as sharing a few of our PR and Social team’s favourite examples of reactive content.

How do I know what to talk about?

To be reactive on social media, you need to be able to spot opportunities as and when they arise. They’re all around you, all the time, and some easy ways of finding them are…

  • Social monitoring Using a social monitoring tool (we use Hootsuite) allows you to keep an eye on whatever topics are important to your brand, by tracking keywords, hashtags, URLs, and much more.
  • Finding hashtags Within the platforms themselves, be sure to follow your own brand hashtags as well as topic-hashtags that are relevant to your brand. This gives you an easy way to find posts and join the conversation.
  • Tracking trends To find trending topics people are searching for, make use of  Google Trends. You can also check out the ‘trending’ and ‘explore’ features on the platforms, to see which content is popular right now.
  • Follow the right accounts Make sure you’re following accounts, like news outlets and industry publications, that are talking about topics you can jump on and react to.

You can also plan ahead for opportunities. This seems a bit counter-intuitive given we’re meant to be being reactive, however, keeping a calendar of upcoming dates that are relevant to your brand is a good way to know when you might be able to create content. For example, Social Media Day on 30th of June (oh, the same date we’re sharing this? Fancy that! ;)), or the release of the John Lewis Christmas ad – that’s a classic.

How do I fit it into my content calendar?

Your social strategy should already be pliable, to allow for updates to your schedule or pauses in activity in accordance with real life events. So, introducing this tactic shouldn’t take too much extra time. With reactive content, you don’t need to commit to posting a certain number of times per week, you can pick and choose how often to engage.

How quick do I need to be?

Frankly, time is not on your side. In some cases, there might be longevity, but the majority of opportunities will die down just as quickly as they appeared. To capitalise on trends, you need to have processes in place to allow for speedy sharing.

This means the physical creation of the post – it shouldn’t be something super time-consuming, so work with the resources you’ve got to act quickly. A simple but witty tweet can do the job perfectly well.

It could also include giving the person who signs off your content a heads up so that they can give you the thumbs up with a short lead time, ensuring you don’t miss the moment.

The most important rule: stay on brand

Not all opportunities will be right for your brand. Take a second to think before you post, and if it feels forced, or in any way inauthentic, don’t share it. It takes practice to ‘read the room’ when reacting on social, and you don’t want to alienate your followers.

An easy way to ensure this is to have a brand tick list, sense checking questions such as:

  • Is the tone of voice in line with our other planned content?
  • Is the message in line with our values?
  • Will it resonate with our key audiences?
  • Are we adding value to the conversation?

If it doesn’t pass these checks, don’t sweat it, there’ll be another opportunity along in a few minutes!

What are some good examples of reactive content?

We thought you’d never ask! Here are a few of our PR and Social team’s favourite reactive posts that they reckon got it just right:

Lizi Legge, PR and Social Media Manager.

Virgin Trains’ (now LNER), response to Pride criticism

In 2018, Virgin Trains (now LNER) sponsored York Pride and after receiving homophobic criticism, the brand really went out of their way to respond in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The team stayed on brand, kept a chatty TOV, but made it clear that they wouldn’t stand for homophobic responses to their sponsorship.

I also loved NHS Blood Donation’s response to racism.

A brave, reactive tweet saw the NHS see a rise in blood donation appointments, high authority news coverage and virality on social when the social media team were quick to shut down a racist response. It was directed at the account’s campaign coverage to encourage black and ethnic minority donors to book appointments. The responding tweet was received so well that many people replied to say they’d booked an appointment because of it.

Gabriella Haile, PR & Social Account Executive.

It was a dark day for chicken lovers everywhere when KFC ran out of chicken. People even rang the police to complain. To make light of the situation and apologise for the inconvenience, KFC put out a cheeky message using the letters of their name, which got a lot of coverage both on social and in the press.

Kelsie Hatton, PR & Social Account Executive.

Leading up to Brexit’s first official ‘due date’, Marmite stepped in with some commentary on the Brexit debate, making light of the political uncertainty and confusion by swapping the over used term ‘Brexit’ with ‘breakfast.’

And for a great example of unrelated brands joining in with the conversation, look no further than this (frankly, rather disturbing) tweet from Weetabix – the majority of replies really hit the mark in terms of speed, humour and being on-brand.

Written by:

Leah Groom


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