Social Media and Topicality

Shock-Horror ! The 2013 Superbowl is not something I am usually interested in, however, I AM always drawn to it for its fame in the advertising world. Its fame stems from it being the most expensive, yet highest reach event for any single ad each year. This historically has seen ads such as the ’1984 Apple Macintosh’ commercial reach incredible levels of celebrity which then continued for many years.

The beauty this year was the way in which a very short blackout was capitalised on with such speed and relevance by two brands, Oreo and Tide, but Oreo got in first.

As the lights went out during last night’s Super Bowl, the electricians scrambled, the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers tried to keep their muscles warm, fans dug into some 47 layer dip and Oreo jumped into action.

With a mission control room full of ad executives the Oreo management team spun into action and completely capitalised on the nimbleness that social media offers. The ad features the caption “Power out? No problem” reminding Oreo eaters that you can “dunk in the dark.” The timeliness and pithiness made the pitch funnier, more effective and undoubtedly millions of dollars cheaper than Oreo’s actual Super Bowl commercial.

So it made me reflect about how much more effective social media can be when it is executed in a really timely manner, and when it capitalises on a relevant, interesting topic or event.

Most of us don’t have the budgets, resources or physical capability to pull off campaigns on the scale of Oreo, but we do have the capability and capacity to be aware of topics which provide us with social media fodder to leverage our brands against. Every brand has subject matter, outside the obvious, which has a relevance to that brand’s market place. It is crucial that the brand owner sets out and follows these topics constantly.

Some questions to consider when thinking about where to search for these adjacent areas of interest:

1. Where are your customers looking and what are they reading , when not with you?

2. What special seasonal or event-based subjects could provide interesting additional material for you to review, comment on, or merely pass on to your customers?

3. How might you maximise special events or topics?  Plan for them ahead of time, so when they come up, you’re ready. You don’t need an Oreo-style mission control room to throw it together at a minutes notice.

4. In a service industry, perhaps it’s modern version of “issue management”, and not necessarily from a crisis point of view. What issues are appropriate for you to curate for your customers?

In other words, create a list of these topical opportunities. Think about your brand from a more holistic viewpoint. Consider your customers and their behaviours. Consider your competitors and how and where they play. Sometimes you’ll even find some idea you can steal or improve upon in your competitive landscape.

Find subjects and events, schedule them into your plans, develop the message you want to present, and stand ready to push “post” as soon as each respective occasion arrives. Stand at the ready on these occasions, like Oreo, to capture moments for your brand.

The final question is where do you do it. Oreo chose Twitter as a priority…fast, effective, pithy, and far reaching in their case. Their simple and surprising ad was retweeted more than 15,000 times in the first 14 hours.

For your brand…where are your biggest audience numbers interacting and how do you reach them with speed? Multiple platforms are acceptable, but make a splash when you do it – speak in the right voice and make your point in the right language, and whatever you do, don’t over complicate it. Oreo didn’t mention the blackout, they merely mentioned “dunking in the dark”…if you ultimately let your customer finish the thought you will deliver a most effective communication.



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