In early February of this year, the second half of Super Bowl XLVII came to a sudden, unexpected halt when the power went out, stopping play for 34 minutes. Millions of Americans were sitting around their televisions, waiting for the game to resume and wondering what to do in the meantime. Then Oreo gave them a suggestion.
“Power Out? No problem,” they tweeted in the midst of the blackout. Along with a link to a picture of an Oreo that read, “You can still dunk in the dark.”
It was a very simple thing, but it was extremely timely. And that timeliness impressed the nation and got them to talking, not about the game, but about Oreos. When an immediate opportunity presented itself, they took advantage of it with an act of spontaneity. But according to the marketers behind it, that simple act of spontaneity was a-year-and-a-half in the making.
No, Oreo didn’t know in advance that the blackout was going to happen, or cause it to happen just to post that tweet. But like training for a marathon, it takes time and practice to have the ability to jump on an opportunity like that in such a short window.
It began with a decision to tweet every day and take an active interest in what their audience was looking for and talking about. That meant listening to their followers and keeping their finger on the pulse of what was going on in the world around them. So by the time the Super Bowl rolled around, they were trained, stretched and ready to go the distance.
Huge brands like Oreo aren’t the only ones capable of taking advantage of these opportunities, though. With a little practice, anyone can run that marathon. All social media, but Twitter especially, lends itself to immediate reactions to current events.
The first step is to know what’s going on in the world. Obviously, it’s important to know what’s going on within your specific field, but also general news and events. What are people talking about? What are your followers talking about? Their interests and concerns extend far beyond your brand and your industry, so look for opportunities to reach out in just about any situation.
The second step is to keep it simple. “You can still dunk in the dark” isn’t the cleverest slogan ever. It’s not going to tag their television commercials. The image made it a little more complex, but it was still a fairly simple thing—it was ready to post in less than 34 minutes.
A carefully planned marketing campaign needs to be well-written, well-executed, high quality and engaging. But a spontaneous one doesn’t need to be Shakespeare or Rembrandt. A good idea is still important, but the main point is to get your brand out there as soon as possible, and as publicly as possible, to take advantage of whatever’s going on. You can make a video about it later, but for now just use a well-placed hashtag. Make an in-depth infographic in the aftermath, but for now, a simple photo or image will do fine. Reach out to your audience and connect with them. Timeliness is the most important thing. That’s what they’ll remember, and that’s what they’ll talk about.