As you all probably know, I love a bit of reactive Social advertising.  It humanises and personalises brands in a real-time (and often humourous) way that is nearly impossible to replicate in a traditional and set comms strategy.

Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely not the heart of the media or creative plan as you can’t guarantee your brand will have something constructive to say about current affairs or events (I’m not counting seasonal events in this given they can be planned for… I mean well done for remembering that Christmas, Valentine’s Day or Halloween are coming up…), reactive marketing is more about jumping on the latest topical event or subject at the same time as your audience does, making yourself part of a holistic viral conversation.

For many brands this is a scary thing.
We all know that the internet can be a mean place, and boy do those trolls crawl out from under the bridge very quickly when a brand trips up and says the wrong thing – especially when they jump on serious topics for retail gain or don’t research the trending hashtag (also side tip: don’t share content from your competitors… British Airways I’m looking at you…), and don’t even get me started on robot replies
Gosh, that escalated quickly (just like viral trolling).

Luckily, people are often as quick to commend as they are to condemn, and there are many social media gurus working their magic and picking the right topics to be involved in (aka: the digital equivalent of ‘reading the room’).

Oreo is obviously one of the first that springs to mind for many people, given their solid social presence and reactiveness to the 2013 Super Bowl power outage, with the now-famous ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.

'You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet

Realistically this must have been a walk in the park for the social team given the year prior they ran the highly-acclaimed 100-Day Daily Twist to celebrate their 100th birthday – a clever mix of pre-planned and current events themed posts that fans quickly came to love while no doubt simultaneously causing an intensely high level of stress for their agencies.

Oreo Tweets

As with any conversation the truly crucial element to social reactiveness is authenticity, and for corporate accounts that also means staying true to their brand tone of voice as well as the topic they are commenting on, because let’s face it: authenticity builds trust, and trust can build sales, and when you’ve only got 140 characters it is a pretty unique challenge.  The sweet spot seems to fit somewhere between entertainment and product (okay mostly in entertainment) with the brand as the facilitator rather than the retailer.

This doesn’t necessarily sit with the marketing team either, as social media has become just as important (or in some cases more so) to customer service teams.  I know you’re all jumping straight to social networks as a massive platform for complaints, and while they absolutely are (creating mass headaches for many a customer service rep), it is also an opportunity for a little surprise and delight for followers.
I mean, when a customer wants a welcome home party then why not oblige?

Minimal effort + personalisation = brand love and some excellent WOM PR.  Nailed it.

JetBlue Airways welcome home party

Of course not everything needs to be down to a one-on-one comms level (although it is sweet when done right), and jumping on a viral bandwagon, even with a simple message, can pay off if it fits with the brand’s essence.

The recent Oscars super awkward mix-up garnered 60,000 social mentions within one minute of the event happening, and created a huge range of conversations, ranging from light hearted amusement to politics behind award shows to the potential fallout on the PwC’s brand.  It also became an immediate topic that was perfect for certain brands, like Snickers who were quick to jump on the snafu in both the UK and Brazil with posts that fitted perfectly with their long-standing ‘You’re Not You When You’re Hungry’ platform.

Snickers Oscars Tweet

However I red-envelope award the best tweet of the night to the Miss Universe team (yes I didn’t think I’d ever say that as well) with their sympathetic self-deprecating message reminding people that they had done the same thing in 2015.  It was a slight gamble given they would probably rather forget the embarrassing occasion, but judging by the 46,000 or so likes people appreciated the gesture.

Miss Universe Oscars Tweet

Speaking of that particular example, the Miss Universe competition also bore the brunt of social commentary with their 2015 mix-up when they crowned the incorrect participant (and then took it off her and gave it to someone else… awkward…), an error that Burger King immediately picked up on, posted in real time and stayed true to their brand tone and distinctive assets.

Burger King Miss Universe Tweet

Of course social media isn’t the only way for a brand to be reactive, traditional formats still give a certain level of flexibility timing wise, and allow for longevity of the joke (reach, scale, impact, *insert more media buzz words here [we have heaps]* yes you know I’m an advocate for the tangible traditional channels).
But that’s a topic for another time.  Instead I will sign off and leave you with the infamous BMW/ Audi billboard war – always heart-warming to see two auto-titans rising to the challenge and acting like kids on the playground.
Slow clap to the person who thought of the blimp though…

BMW Audi


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