How to stand out on social when it’s swallowed by Brexit

Michael MacLennan, Director, Social Media Strategy, looks at how your organisation can make an impression on social media channels when all attention appears to be elsewhere.

Here in the UK it feels almost impossible to escape Brexit. Every which way you turn on social media, there it is, with some startling new development meaning that just about everyone you follow seems to be losing their minds.

Whatever your thoughts on the matter, it is exhausting.

It also poses a real difficulty for organisations, because what are your chances of grabbing your audience’s attention when they are seconds away from taking their electronic devices, sprinting towards the nearest ocean and chucking them all in there while cackling manically?

Luckily though, it also provides an opportunity.

There is a simple lesson to be learned around events such as these, and it can be summed up through an old media term: counterprogramming.

This refers to the strategy of scheduling content that runs counter to the big thing that everyone is supposed to be talking about. This happens in cinema during the summer season, when some testosterone-fuelled blockbuster is set to dominate a particular weekend, but, for example, a smaller and lighter romantic comedy is released on the same date.

You might think that this means the latter will be steamrollered by the former, but it is in fact a canny move: the strategy recognises that there will be a significant enough minority of the audience who don’t fall into the target demographic for the blockbuster, so will be interested in attending a decent alternative.

So it can go with Brexit. All you need to do is get into the mindset of your audience and then make a prediction: if their attention is being consumed by this one thing, how do they feel about that, and what can you provide which will come as a blessed relief to them?

You can of course be more subtle about it, or you can take this week’s typically bold Paddy Power route and employ a former Manchester United star to literally offer a getaway from British politics.

Your eyes do not deceive you: football legend Eric Cantona has teamed up with Paddy Power to ‘offer one lucky Brit and a guest an escape from Brexit on his secret bunker’. The bookmakers have figured that they can capitalise on the frustration and boredom felt, and their bet has paid off handsomely, with a potential reach on Twitter alone of more than eight million over the past two days.

Twitter stats on Brexit

The lesson here is that when others are getting jaded, this affords a golden opportunity to seize the moment. Time to get your counterprogramming hat on and hunker down; as with Brexit itself, time is of the essence.

If you have any questions on using social media, please feel free to email me.

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