We’re making our way through the 6 Rs of Relevant Messaging.  Today, we look at how to be real time.

Let’s review what we’ve talked about so far:

  1. Rewarding. The benefits of following through on the call to action in the message are clear.
  2. Realistic. Following through on the message is doable, because any obvious barriers are addressed.
  3. Real Time. The message feels timely and works within the context of current events and other influences.
  4. Responsive. The message proves that you are listening, and taking people’s concerns and ideas into account.
  5. Revealing. New information or perspectives are shared, or you are telling a dramatic, engaging story that unfolds over time (in other words, you get us hooked).
  6. Refreshing. The message is delivered with personality — with an interesting, authentic style.

One of the (many) things that irritates me about Facebook is how their algorithm can show you posts from days ago even when that content is completely out of date. Sports scores from a game that took place a week ago. News stories that have a completely different angle now.

I live in an area where we often have severe thunderstorms and tornados this time of year and it’s very disconcerting to see a big TORNADO WARNING Facebook post only to realize it’s from 3 days ago.

Facebook’s algorithm focuses on engagement. If a post get a lot of action, then Facebook will keep popping it into newsfeeds and that makes sense really.

But you need to be more discerning with the content you publish in general. The more timely your content, the more people will look to you as a trusted source.

(And for Facebook specifically, I do suggest that if you post super timely content to Facebook, that you go back to the original post and edit it to indicate it’s outdated or expired.)

We now live in a world of instant gratification and 24/7 news, and standing out in crowded newsfeeds and inboxes is crucial to getting the attention and support you need.

Let’s look at some way you can be “real time” with your messaging:

Ideas to Make Your Messaging REAL TIME:


Twitter has become of the real-time news network and the place where people often share what’s new first. Tweet regularly (at least once a day) and pull your Twitter stream on to your website home page to add a timelier feel to your website.

Share Photos as You Take Them

Get in the habit of taking lots of photos and share the best one or two from the day on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or whatever social media sites you use the most. You don’t need to include an article with it, just a nice short caption. Again, you can pull your stream on to your home page or other high-traffic pages to give them a boost of “now.”

Riff off Something New from Someone Else

Link your content to something new created by someone else, as in “Did you see the new blog post by Jack? Here’s our take on this issue . . .” which allows you to link to something you may have written some time ago.  You could also start with something more like “Did you hear what Jane said in this interview?” and link back to your writing.

Reintroduce Evergreen Content with Recent Anecdotes

Let’s say you’ve invested a bunch of time into creating solid, timeless, evergreen content on your website. How can you make that core content feel fresher? Add a recent anecdote as the lead paragraph when you reshare that content in your newsletter or blog. “Last week, three people called our office about how to prevent squirrel attacks. Here are our top five tips  . . . ”

Use Words like “Today,” “Now” and “Urgent” in Headlines

If you are telling a story, what part of that story is happening right now? Pull that aspect of the story out into the headline.

Connect Your Content to News Headlines or Memes

What is everyone talking about already? Connect the dots between your content and the latest national or local news headlines or a social media meme. Here are some posts we’ve written on “newsjacking.”

Connect Your Content to the Calendar

Go beyond the usual holidays and special months that everyone uses and look for some of the more obscure or fun opportunities. For example, how about the Academy Awards – who or what could you write about during awards season? During tax season, make people feel better about paying, but letting them know how tax dollars support your cause or point out you don’t use any tax dollars at all. (Need help with these? Our Monthly Nonprofit Writing Prompts are a great source.)

Next Up: Be Responsive

Published On: March 17, 2021|Categories: Creating Relevant and Engaging Messaging|