Tackling the Real-Time Content Challenge

“We want to create content at the speed of culture.” You hear some version of this mantra from brand marketers a lot, but doing so is easier said than done.

Even once you get your content approval process streamlined to publish fast — like Oreo — staying on the pulse of culture is hard. By the time something is trending on Twitter, it’s old news.

Social analytics company Poptip wants to help brands stay ahead of the game with their new Zipline product, which surfaces social chatter trends relevant to specific topics as they happen. We checked in with Poptip’s Adam Yellin and founder Kelsey Falter to talk about how Poptip helps brands sort through the content jungle and leverage the right conversations to create better content.


Adam Yellin, Poptip

In general, for you and your clients, what are some of the biggest challenges in content creation?

Kelsey: Our brand clients face the challenge of creating content that is worth remarking about. Often times it’s not so difficult to create content, but it is difficult to create content that people want to interact with — inherently social content is difficult to create.

What about building engagement with customers? What’s the challenge there?

Kelsey: Many brands and broadcasters ask “rhetorical questions” to help sound conversational. However, these rhetorical questions are similar to crying wolf — fans get confused about whether or not they should respond and what is actually happening with their interactions. The biggest challenge lies in creating a tone and rhythm of communication that builds trust by showing that the brand genuinely cares about what its fans have to say vs. simply a veil of attempted interest in fans’ opinions.

Adam: A lot of what we see from brands is pushing content as a means to drive engagement. What that results in are things like retweets, likes and shares, all of which are valuable but missing out on the key engagement that can happen with social content: discussion.

I think brands struggle to find a voice that can engage with consumers. When they do find that voice, they have to realize that not everyone will agree with it. But, if they can be a valuable source of content, they can win with the majority. That involves embracing a two-way dialogue with your social audience.

How did Zipline come about? What problem were you looking to solve?

Adam: Zipline was built out of this idea that there is so much content, let’s narrow it down. It’s sifting through the noise.

So, you’re helping people deal with the problem of there being so much content out there, with the goal of creating more content?

Adam: Sort of. It’s a good problem/bad problem kind of thing, that there is so much content already out there. Zipline isn’t going to create content for you by itself. It requires you to know the conversation that you want. Maybe it’s from a celebrity, maybe its from an influencer, maybe it’s general people you want to find. Zipline is going to help you pull that content out of Twitter and show you the most relevant phrases around that topic.

Any given day, million upon millions of tweets come in from millions of creators. You set up a Zipline of classifiers – handles, hashtags, words, phrases, common names, proper names. We’ll look at the classifiers and we’ll look at the phrases, and we’ll show you what’s relevant to you.

Got it. And once you’ve found that relevant content, how does that help brands make new content?

Adam: What you’re doing is you’re using the power of people on Twitter, in general society, and using them to help the craft your next story. You almost allow the Twitter population to direct your content. They’re content creators. Everybody who has a social account is a a social creator.

Why is real time such an important concept, and how is it a challenge for brands?

Adam: How fast does your Facebook timeline move? How about your Twitter feed? Social doesn’t stop. There is a constant flow of new information, discussion and opinion and we can’t sit back and miss out on it. Understanding what people are saying in the moment is incredible important as it may impact that next ad buy your brand makes, or the content that you decide to publish. Real-time allows you to stay relevant and not fall behind the crowd in the conversation. If anything, you can stay ahead and own the conversation.

What are you seeing down the line as the next big thing in content?

Kelsey: Content that can be formatted into different mediums will be the next big thing. For instance, an article needs to have meta data for SEO formatting; it needs to have data that will generate the copy for a Tweet when shared; and someday it will need to have the appropriate data that will generate something somewhat like a card (think Google Now, Twitter cards, etc).

Adam: I’d have to say that short form video content is really of interest to me; it’s really already here, but it still has a ways to go. I look at apps like NowThis News and how they are publishing news content and I find it really intriguing. With so much opportunity for consumption, the sight, sound and motion of video in a small package is very compelling to me and easily digestible for a consumer.

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Image by Jon Curnow /