As a brand, all communications falls somewhere on the spectrum of unplanned to planned and reactive to proactive. Rebecca Lieb from Altimeter has broken this down into a framework of four quadrants that we’ve used to guide our thinking on this topic, shown below.


On the top right, you have traditional media – planned, proactive content, or what brands have been doing for years across channels. Due to lead times and production costs, brands were exclusively focused on campaign-based communications.

When social arrived, brands started focusing on customer complaints on Facebook and Twitter. In other words – unplanned, reactive communications, found on the bottom left. SMMS apps were created to address the explosion of CRM and customer service inquiries that occur on social each day and have been focused on that goal ever since.

Customer service is incredibly important. However, as social has transitioned to a content-driven, mobile-based experience, marketers have been left flat-footed in the other three quadrants. Of course, planned/proactive is perfectly handled by our content planner, sourcing, and collaborative features, but let’s talk about the other two quadrants.

As social has matured, we’ve started to see two new possibilities for how marketers can communicate with audiences. Unplanned, proactive content has emerged as a new tactic for many large organizations. Brands have built newsrooms to understand what their audiences are most interested in, and have created content to fulfill that.

The top left is still a new, perplexing space for many marketers. How can something be both reactive and planned?

This is a new area we’re calling Tailored Content. Brands can monitor audiences and topics that are important to their marketing goals, and use those triggers to create specific, individualized content based on real-time inputs.

Tailored content has become a possibility for marketers as technologies like Percolate dramatically reduce lead times and production costs associated with content creation. Here are a few examples of the forms that tailored content might take in practice:

  • Target/influencer monitoring: Looking at your core influencers’ interests and responding to them with customized content.

  • User-generated content and photo requests: Tracking a series of keywords or mentions that have images, and use that opportunity to thank customers and re-purpose their content (with legal approval)

  • Individualized content: Creating personalized pieces of content in response to comments and questions

Planned, reactive content seems novel as a practice, but look at any communications role and you can break it down into all four quadrants. This approach is newest for marketers because there was no type of medium that allowed them to communicate in this fashion before, but other communications professions have been doing this for years:

Take a look at the responsibilities of a salesperson:


A politician:


A PR representative:


And now the marketer:


Marketers have already started to explore planned, reactive triggers – but on a limited basis, and typically with geolocation opt-in or high costs as a barrier to entry. Foursquare allows for stores to coupon customers based on their location. Macy’s has partnered with Shopkick to alert consumers to in-store offers on products they might like through beacon technology. Old Spice famously created tailored YouTube videos as responses to tweets, a limited campaign that required a tremendous amount of prep work.

Marketing communications technology is just starting to allow marketers to capitalize on this opportunity on a scalable level. Whereas SMMS apps are limited to customer service, newer, more complete marketing technology solutions let teams participate in all four real-time quadrants, changing what’s possible with reactive content. If this sounds interesting to you, be in touch to learn what we’ve been building at Percolate.