It all started with a power failure and a tweet. When Oreo seemingly defeated the Ravens and the 49ers at the 2013 Super Bowl with one blackout-induced tweet--"you can still dunk in the dark"--businesses and brands have been trying to capture similar lightning, to go "viral," ever since.

Today, wrap-ups of major events regularly include a Tweet of the Night, like this one from Arby's tweaking Pharrel at the Grammy Awards.

Brands have found that using a "newsroom" style of content creation is not only a way to score cultural relevance, that viral moment, but it also cultivates their existing customers into brand advocates.

Of course, you don't have the resources to man a war-room with a dozen people each manning three monitors.

But that doesn't mean you can't apply some of the tactics of these big-swinging brand newsrooms in more modest ways.

Here's a 7-point check list that can help guide your brand toward your viral moment and help create brand advocates.

Set goals: Determine what purpose you want your content to serve. If you're creating a brand newsroom style operation, you'll want to increase engagement with your customers.

"One goal of newsroom content is new conversations, says Noah Levinson, content strategist at Big Spaceship. "If the content your brand puts out there creates an entirely new conversation, then your brand leads that conversation."

Start small: "Don't think you need to invest in a 30-person operation to get involved with real-time content creation," says Matt Creamer, creative director/executive editor, KBS Content Labs. Creamer says that a small, tight team of two, of the right thinkers and doers, can go a long way toward endowing your brand with cultural cache, which will help create audience-driven content.

Develop a strategy: "Preparation is incredibly important," says Levinson. "Many things need to happen weeks in advance--having designs picked out, video plans, social listening set up, and community managers briefed on response strategies."

Social listening tools like Radian6 can help you understand the sentiment of conversation that's going on in the social web around your brand or business.

Start developing a content culture: Set up a WordPress blog from your main site and produce a few posts that focus exclusively on your audience's interest. It's OK that your content aligns with your brand's values, just not your brand positioning or your product.

Hire an editor: Whether you're generating content in-house or hiring a service to create it for you, you'll need a content director to manage the process, the program and quality control.

Hire social media savants: Brian Chin, digital associate creative director at Innocean USA, says that some social media skills are hard to teach. "Hire people who not only understand the social space, but who happen to love and immerse themselves in it on a personal level," he says. "Those people have a relevancy filter that is hard to teach. They're also more likely to take ownership and invest themselves in projects, from concept to execution, to produce the best possible work.

Measure it: If your purpose is to generate brand awareness, there are ways to measure your efforts. "Great results are a combination of impressions and reach," says Vin Farrell, global chief content officer, Havas Worldwide. "To do this successfully, at an event that your company or brand is staging, for example, you need to activate influencers, Tweet and Instagram behind-the-scenes photos and quotes from famous speakers and attendees. Find a way to evoke the emotion of an event into the social sphere and that will translate to success for your company or brand."

But Farrell warns CEOs and CMOs to be careful. "Think about whether a newsroom is really the best way to meet your needs and spend your budget. I wouldn't recommend newsrooms for most clients or events. Real-time content capturing--yes. But a newsroom? It's no longer a novel concept--there's become newsroom saturation at most big events. You're limited by how creative your team is and how flexible your lawyer is. When the right opportunity hits though, it makes sense."


Published on: May 15, 2015