Influencers & reactive marketing: how to move quickly without endangering your brand

By Alec Harden-Henry, Commercial Director, Influence Network.

Social media done well is often social media done quickly.

We don’t necessarily mean social media as a marketing channel here, rather social media as a consumer pastime or independent pursuit.

Think about the best accounts or pages you follow and in amongst them you’ll probably find those that often have a witty take on the day’s news or seem to always be at the forefront with a reaction when a viral moment occurs.

Social media as a marketing channel, on the other hand, is often anything but quick.

Sign-off, planning, creating, scheduling, brand protection: they all take time. Throw influencers into the mix and that’s more time. Whilst your influencer marketing is probably effective, could it be more effective if you could just move a little bit quicker? What if you activate influencers at the same speed those pages and accounts react to the latest trends and memes?

Reactive marketing

The idea behind reactive marketing is simple and essentially revolves around jumping on a currently popular bandwagon, so that other people on that bandwagon see your brand.

It is marketing that feels more ‘in the moment’ and ‘on the ball’ than other campaigns and, as well as potentially increasing the size of your audience, it can make brands seem personable and relevant.

If you’re in need of an example then look no further than Specsavers who have mastered the art of reacting to the viral mistake. From Oscar ceremonies to Olympic flag mix-ups, the brand has found a reactive marketing niche that perfectly matches their main tagline.

Influencers and reactive marketing

The role of influencers in a reactive marketing strategy is very similar to the role of influencers in your everyday marketing efforts.

Ultimately you pay influencers to increase your reach, drive purchases and deploy creative ideas different to those you use on your owned channels.

Using influencers in a reactive manner doesn’t change any of that. It simply means that the influencer’s posts have a greater chance of generating relevant engagement and therefore driving greater marketing success.

But the risks are obvious too.

Social media done quickly means there will be less planning and potentially less oversight. Your efforts could be doomed from the start if you choose the wrong event to react to. It’s very possible an entire marketing department could misjudge the tone of a reaction, so it’s arguably even more possible that each individual influencer could do so as well.

But reactive influencer marketing is possible to do safely, as long as you have the right structures in place.

Influencers on tap

Discovery remains a core challenge of influencer marketing.

Agencies still tell us that it’s the most time-intensive part of the process, with less than ideal results.

If you want to master reactive influencer marketing then you need influencers ready to go. Using a platform, like Influence Network, will help you to find influencers more quickly. A retained arrangement to help handle your discovery and keep influencers in long-term relationships with your brands will help further – an interesting topic covered at IMS recently and by way of premonition, penned by myself, a few weeks prior.

For reactive marketing to really work the first step really is as simple as making sure you’ve already done your discovery. Trying to do reactive marketing whilst needing to find influencers is likely to mean your creative is out of date and irrelevant by the time you post it.


Because reactive marketing needs to move more quickly, you will need to vary your influencer processes.

Discovery will already have been done, so that’s one item to tick off your list.

Approval will need to be looked at. If you don’t use Influence Network to brief and preview influencer posts then how are you going to check on the creative reaction the influencers have prepared for you?

Outside of the ‘how’, also consider the ‘when’ for all approvers involved. If senior sign-off is needed then communicate clear timescales for when you will need said approval.


Finally, you’ll need to look for every efficiency you can if you’re going to deliver reactive marketing on time.

We’ve already mentioned discovery, but consider other parts of the influencer marketing process that are a pain at the moment. What holds up your influencer campaigns?

Any answer to that question that’s a pain for you now will be a pain ten times worse during an ‘at speed’ reactive campaign. Whether it’s briefing, approval, contracts, brand values or payments; whatever holds you up now needs to be solved before you engage in reactive marketing. You can’t ‘muddle through’ and put up with pains whilst delivering good reactive marketing.

Influencer reactive marketing in 2021

Influencers themselves likely publish reactive posts on a regular basis. As audiences become more used to influencer marketing in their timelines they’re going to be able to more easily spot posts with a level of artificiality.

If an influencer you want to work with often posts highly effective reactive content then to maximise audience engagement your content produced with that influencer is going to need to be highly reactive.

For that reason, and the potentially greater impact on offer, we’ll see more reactive influencer marketing in 2021 and beyond, as the market continues to mature. Brands and agencies who get their processes and structures in place ready for the increase in reactive demand will be best placed to secure the best engagement.

Photo by Malcolm Lightbody on Unsplash

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