Content Strategy Content Writing Guides Digital Content

What Is a Reactive Content and How Can You Use Them to Engage Your Audience

Proactive content is a norm, only a few are able to utilize reactive content to drive engagement. Check out how you can join the trends with your contents.

Reactive content? What’s this again? 

Let’s paint the scenario of how your typical day looks like on your content calendar…

All well planned out with different topics and ideas strolling through your mind. It can even be a brainstorming session with your entire digital marketing team. In the end, you’ll have crafted the perfect content that suits your audience and aligns with your content strategy. 

Of course, that’s the usual timeline of content marketers and creators. With this, you are a proactive content marketer. Let’s change direction, but are you getting the result from this dreamy content mapping and marketing? 

What if there’s the opposite of proactive content? That’s reactive content, rather than formulate ideas and topics; you jump on news, trends, and issues. You then produce content around this trending information. 

It may just be a trending hashtag, international news, boom, and you create your content to benefit from the steam it generates. A reactive content can come in any format; it may just be a social media post, an article, or even a video. 

When it is a reactive content, speed matters, the faster you can create a reaction with your branded content, the better. Think of this as a marketing in the moment.

How Reactive Content Works

Let’s get an example of reactive content, when Google rolled out their BERT update, what we quickly did with one of our blogs was to write a blog post around it. 


Actually, we were not fast enough, but we were able to jump on the topic while it’s still hot. 

We are not done; there’s another example. This one is, however, a love story, Hector Kansi proposed to his now-wife, Nonhlanhla, at a KFC in South Africa. While the video of the proposal was shared on Twitter to shame the couple, scores of brands reacted to the proposal. 


It started with KFC, while many other local and international brands joined using the #KFCProposal hashtag. 

Reactive content

How To Stay Ready For a Reactive Content Strategy

Of course, a reactive content strategy cannot, or rather, should not be your primary strategy. However, it should form an essential part of your content strategy.

Look at when Coca Cola joined the #KFC proposal trend, how their engagement shoots up. There are ways you can reactively stay on top of contents; 

1. Social Listening

This is not just about a content marketer alone; it also involves you as a business owner and entrepreneur. Being conversant with what is news and trending in your industry is the first step to developing a reactive content. 

You have to be in the know as to what is trending on social media, on TV, or even newspapers. It may require you to follow your industry leaders, tabloids, and influencers. With this in place, you will easily spot content that you can react to towards driving engagement. 

Imagine your being able to break big industry news before everyone else. Social events move humans, they want to be seen as up to date by their peers. When they come across such content, they won’t stop sharing. The more they social signals, the better your level of engagements. 

There’s no way everyone won’t trace a reactive content back to its source. The best place you can find ideas for a reactive content will be social media, and it’s through the following; 

  • Be a member of relevant social media groups
  • Follower influencers both related and unrelated to your industry
  • Follow who everyone is following

2. Trend Monitoring and Watching

There are different ways available for trend monitoring. You can use Google Trends, Trends on Twitter, Pinterest, Buzzsumo Trending Now, and Brandwatch Audiences. 

Twitter Trends For Reactive Content

What all of these tools provide you with is a clue as to what is trending and what is hot among internet users globally. You can even narrow your search down to your immediate target audience based on location and period. 

Google Trends for Reactive Content

For example, Google Trend will provide you with a list of queries and topics that are being searched for by users. With this knowledge, you can prepare your content along the idea. 

3. Following Your Mentions

Whenever you receive a notification that you are mentioned, you should always seize the opportunity to make reactive content. You can even set up Google alerts to inform you when certain strings of words are used.

You don’t have to be mentioned before you will react. Google will alert you immediately by sending an email. You should choose the “at-it happens” option while setting up the alert. 

Google Alert For Reactive content

You can also use the Mention App to see the social accounts talking about your brand. Either through your brand name or keywords. 

How To Drive Engagement Using Reactive Content

We believe you are equipped and informed about how and where to draw ideas for reactive content. It’s not enough to have the ideas, how you utilize the ideas in driving engagement is all that matters. Here’s how we think you can drive engagements using a reactive content strategy; 

1. Take Action Immediately

Reactive content is about living in the moment. Something the only person that matters is who broke the news or reacted first. With reactive content, there’s no room for seeking approval. It’s either now or never. 

You need to understand how crucial reactive content is and be able to prioritize reactive content creation. It’s about putting a stop to every other thing and be in the moment. According to the University of Glasgow Social Media blog, their second-highest video engagement came with taking action while in the middle of any content creation.

Being quick to beat your competitors is vital. Look at the way Standard Bank jumped on the #KFCProposal trend. They blocked out every chance other banks have in joining the conversation. In reactive content marketing, it’s winner takes all. 


2. Always Have An Angle

If there is no angle you can relate with, then let the trend be; another will come your way. Getting it right with reactive content marketing requires you to be able to have your perspective about the trend. 

Get this right, you are not meant to be inflammatory or pick a side, stay neutral at all times. The idea is to be able to tie the trend to your product, brand message, or the industry. The content must always fit the context. 

There’s always an angle; you have the responsibility of finding it. The reactive content is not for you, but for your target audience and they have to be able to see your own angle. Never practice hashtag or trend hijacking, it will boomerang. 

3. When It’s a Reactive Content, There Should Be Zero Red Tape

At the heart of reactive content marketing lies “SPEED.” Yes, blogs and other textual contents need a second eye. Which is why you need to include as part of your content marketing strategy, the need to have proofreaders and editorial team on speed dial. 

When a trend is spotted, it should be treated as a doctor would handle an emergency. Get on it and apply treatment immediately. Any other thing comes second. As soon as work starts on a reactive content, whoever is the boss should be informed of an incoming content. 

This is where the need for training and re-training content creators for a lighter sign off process. You should be able to trust them to make critical decisions within the little window available. 

4. Be Ready To Push in Proactive Contents 

If you get it right with the reactive content, the idea is to draw attention to other contents. Which is where you have to observe the engagements. It will not amount to anything if, at the end of the trend, it does not have any effect on your existing contents. 

A reactive content should be used in driving brand awareness, and the best way to get this done will be through your existing contents. Letting your target audience know what you’ve been trying to communicate to them all this while. 

Final Thoughts

Reactive content is not a grey area; big brands have always taken advantage of trends and news to drive engagements. If you are heavily reliant on content marketing, your content strategy should give room for reactive content marketing. 

Even though there is little evidence available, but it is obvious that reactive content marketing can drive engagement beyond what your regular proactive contents do. When things are not going great with your proactive content marketing, you should be on the lookout for reactive content opportunities. It will give your brand a big break it needs at that point.