Seize the Social Moment

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When it comes to brands and social media, think carpe diem.  Or better yet, think carpe momentum, which in Latin means “seize the moment.”

Ultimately, social media is about moments in time.  Recently, many brands have integrated themselves into the social media conversation by utilizing a “seize the social moment” strategy -- and it has been a catalyst for creating momentum for themselves going forward.  In reviewing these strategies, we see three categories of moments in which brands can dive into the social media dialogue.

Big, live, shared cultural events.  
During the month of February, the Super Bowl, the Grammys and the Oscars dominated our television sets, our Sunday evenings, and subsequently our Facebook and Twitter accounts.  These events were the hub of conversation on their respective nights and smart brands capitalized on this.

Take Oreo for example.  During the Super Bowl’s infamous blackout, they seized the moment and had a relevant, funny graphic promoting the cookie up on Twitter and Facebook in mere minutes.  That tweet garnered 16,000 re-tweets and over 21,000 likes on Facebook.  Sounds like good “moment in time” marketing for their brand, right?  Well, Oreo’s preparation made this possible.  They had a team assembled.  They had a war room.  They congregated, waited and watched.  They were ready to launch at a moment’s notice.  There were no lengthy processes for marketing’s approval.  No signatures from management needed.  Oreo’s social media strategy gave them the flexibility to react quickly, and this was paramount – to the graphic’s popularity and to their brand’s social media relevance.

Atelier Versace took a different approach.  During this year’s Oscars, Halle Berry donned one of their dresses.  Halle, who starred in Die Another Day, led the James Bond tribute for their 50th anniversary as a franchise.  Versace capitalized on this.  As Halle graced the Oscar stage, Atelier Versace posted a picture of her on the red carpet.  The brand heralded Halle as “The Ultimate Bond Girl,” and that post garnered over 10,000 likes and 750 shares.  Their strategy was simple – prepare in advance for a planned event and react at the most opportune time.


These special days provide brands with ample opportunity to plan and launch a targeted social media campaign.  As a result, more and more brands have capitalized on holidays in their marketing efforts.

For instance, this year, Puffs Tissues launched its Puffs Kisses campaign, asking their Facebook fans to log on to the Puffs page during the month of February and share a kiss with their friends.  For each kiss that was shared, Puffs donated $1 to Dress for Success.  Additionally, throughout the month, they posted different kisses on the Puffs homepage, encouraging people to share them.  Some of these posts garnered tens of thousands of likes and thousands of shares. 

As Tara Rohani, interactive producer and social media marketing strategist, stated in her blog post, brands should focus their holiday social media campaigns on contests, charitable campaigns, or user generated competitions.  The Puffs Kisses campaign capitalized on the user generated competition strategy, made it charitable, and highlighted that their tissues could be used for more than runny noses (lipstick blots for instance).

Fast-Breaking News.  

The name says it all – news breaks, and then it spreads…fast!  When it comes to fast-breaking news, maintaining a respectful and relevant social media presence is critical for brands, especially in the wake of tragedy.  We have seen countless examples of brands that appear crass or thoughtless following a horrible event and we saw that again this past week from Epicurious after the Boston Marathon bombings.

One brand that recently navigated these waters well was Hot Pockets in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.  Following the hurricane, a constituent of Mayor Cory Booker tweeted the Mayor to let him know that he had run out of Hot Pockets.  Mayor Booker’s response went viral.  In a swift move, Hot Pockets mailed Mayor Booker hundreds of coupons for free Hot Pockets to be delivered to the residents of Newark.  Though Hot Pockets never publicly acknowledged this charitable donation via social media, they did not have to.  Mayor Booker subsequently tweeted the letter from Hot Pockets to his more than 1 million followers and let his constituents know of the brand’s generosity. 

Hot Pockets’ strategy was smart – while not directly involved in the social media conversation, they stepped in on an opportunity to act after learning of Mayor Booker’s response to his constituent.  By monitoring the news, they still managed to engage in the social dialogue in a respectful and relevant way.
Lessons Learned.  

Looking at the strategies employed by these brands across three very different social moments reveals some common threads: 

  1. Plan.  Create an editorial calendar of events, days, or moments that may be pertinent to your brand and be prepared to engage in the social dialogue.
  2. Monitor.  In order to know when your brand has an impromptu opportunity to act, you must also monitor social media, news, your competitors and your consumers.
  3. Empower.  Give a team the authority to move and act quickly should an opportunity arise at a moment’s notice.
So, carpe momentum, and more specifically, the social moments.