Planning For Spontaneity

by · October 1, 20133 comments

All great content, whether premeditated or spontaneous, is a product of purposeful intent. Let me explain what I mean by that. By now, there probably isn’t a soul on social media that isn’t aware of Oreo’s spontaneous Super Bowl tweet. This little picture, sent at the perfect time, not only earned millions of impressions, it also set Oreo apart in the hallowed cannons of social media for months (maybe years) to come.

To the brands that look at this piece of content and dismiss it with, “Well yeah, right place right time. I guess they just got lucky.” I call bullshit. Oreo didn’t get lucky, that tweet was a product of purposeful, planned intent. No, they didn’t know three months beforehand that a blackout was going to plague the Super Bowl, but they had the foresight to know that something was going to happen during the biggest game of the year. So they put together a team of strategists, artists and copywriters to capitalize on that unknown something. Guaranteed if there wasn’t a blackout, Oreo still would have posted something great in the 3rd of 4th quarter of the game that would have had us all talking.

Oreo Superbowl TweetSo what was their secret? A huge team? Millions of capital and resources? No.

The secret was simple, they planned for spontaneity. They had no idea what they were going to produce, but they knew they were going to produce something.

When it comes to content production, there are two types of content: premeditated and spontaneous. You already know what premeditated content is. It’s your evergreen blog posts that have been vetted and approved by everyone from the CMO to the custodian. It’s the video, whose script was rewritten more times than you can remember. It’s the … well … you get the picture.

Spontaneous content on the other hand, is content that you produce on the fly. It’s reactionary, seasonal, and is more often influenced by an external factor (reaction to a customer’s tweet, major sporting event, Ben Affleck being cast as Batman). It can also be some of the most powerful and memorable content you produce. Why? Because most businesses either are afraid to put out spontaneous content, have internal rules that prohibit publishing spontaneous content or are just flat out awful at it.

So how can you and your company start producing “Holy Smokes” worthy spontaneous content?

Start by identifying the type of spontaneous content you can produce

Producing a spontaneous 30-minute podcast or 15-minute webisode on the fly might be a tall order for most businesses. So start small.

Begin by taking a look at the internal resources that you have available. Do you have a talented writer or two on your staff? Have them start producing a couple impromptu tweets. Perhaps you have a solid photographer on your team? Tap them to begin producing spontaneous content for your Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest pages.

Quick tip: If there’s a big event coming up, take a page out of Oreo’s playbook and consider creating a taskforce with the sole job of publishing spontaneous content during the event.

Stream-line the approval process

You will never be able to successfully and consistently publish spontaneous content if everyone in upper management needs to give their stamp of approval. Spontaneous content has a shorter shelf-life and needs to be pushed through the approval process as quickly as possible. Make sure your content doesn’t die on the vine by cutting the approval process down to one person. Better yet, empower the author of the content to publish as they see fit, and eliminate the need for managerial involvement.

If the idea of giving your current content publishers permission to publish without approval gives you the willies, consider creating a new team (composed of employees that you trust) to be responsible for producing spontaneous content.

Leave the schedule out of this

So far you’ve identified the type of spontaneous content you’re going to produce, you know who on your team is going to be in charge of publishing the content, the next question is: When are you going to publish this content? The answer – whenever it makes sense.

Unlike your premeditated content pipeline, you can’t publish spontaneous content on a schedule. Trying to force spontaneous content is painful, obvious and painfully obvious. So stay away from saying anything that resembles the sentence, “Alright Amber, I need you to create and publish two spontaneous tweets a week and a spontaneous Instagram picture that has to do with a helicopter.”

I’ll be talking more about creating a kick-ass content production plan during Social Media Explorer’s Social Media Domination Webinar Series with Exact Target on Wednesday, Sept. 25. The webinar is completely, totally, 100% free. So there goes your only excuse for not attending.

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About Jason Spooner

Jason Spooner

Jason Spooner is the Director of Client Services for SME Digital, the digital marketing extension of Social Media Explorer. During his career as a digital strategist, Jason has worked with a variety of large and small companies including: NAPA AUTO PARTS, NASCAR, Kraft, Wal-Mart and Wrangler. His passion: creating powerful digital marketing strategies that drive results. Oh, and he does improv comedy. Follow his antics @jaspooner.

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  • Tyler_Hakes

    Great article. Lots of clients seem to think that social media “just happens” and success is just the result of a bigger budget. They don’t realize the planning and strategy that goes into being successful.

    Even taking a step back, it’s important to clearly articulate and communicate your brand story and overarching digital/social strategy. If everyone understands the goals, priorities, voice, and persona of your brand, then it’s much easier to produce on-brand content on the fly.

  • Stephen

    Great post. This type of thinking requires a tremendous amount of trust. Trust that the people can be creative in the moment; trust they will always be open to moments; trust they they understand the voice; trust they have the resources in the moment. Companies that embrace that level of trust are the ones that can pull of spontaneity.