Right here, right now and all the time. That describes the flow of just about any social media platform. Some move at a millisecond like Twitter or Facebook and others are a little less fast paced, but definitely not standing still.
I sit in enough meetings where organizations dream of a viral social media moment and no matter how much they understand the audience and prepare the content, they can’t control the timing of when it will actually have the opportunity or biggest impact. Time and time again, in both good and bad ways, we see timing play a huge role in social media.
Hat Tip To Arby’s
The 56th GRAMMY Awards this past week is a both a TV and social media event now. You watch and then you tweet or post right along with everyone else. But what happens when a superstar with a hat, a brand, a quick to react social media manager and timing collide?
Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back? #GRAMMYs — Arby’s (@Arbys) January 27, 2014
Social media viral bliss. Arby’s managed to capture lighting in a bottle with one tweet at just the right time. The impact is well published now as Arby’s biggest social media win helping the brand grab 80,000+ retweets, 49,000+ favorites and 6,000+ new followers to their account in a matter of days. It was clever enough that other brands like Pepsi and Hyundai had no choice but to tip their hat to the roast beef chain as well. Add in the traditional coverage of the story and you get all kinds of free earned media for the brand.
It doesn’t hurt when the celebrity you tweeted at responds humorously to you. Pharrell is no social media novice either as he’s capitalizing on the hat’s attention as much as he can too.
Puff took my hat. @iamdiddy pic.twitter.com/IKdpolYMiI — Pharrell Williams (@Pharrell) February 1, 2014
One Smart Cookie
Just about this time last year, Oreo executed on perfect timing by grabbing the social media spotlight during a Super Bowl power outage of all things. Oreo used Twitter and Facebook to post this image below letting fans know “Power out? No problem”.
Oreo was prepared for the moment even though it hadn’t planned on this being it’s slam dunk. The company had increased it’s social team and interaction over the previous year and with a commercial slated for the Super Bowl they had a 15 person team in a social war room ready to react. The when or how wasn’t clear for Oreo, but they were ready when it was their time.
The result was tens of thousands of retweets and Facebook likes, new followers and plenty of day after marketing and traditional media buzz.
Small Business Social Media Can Hit Big With Timing Too
Big brands, big budgets and big agencies might have more of a chance to strike social media viral gold, but small businesses can too. One of the most visited posts on my blog the past 5 years is my coverage of Punch Pizza and their social media win thanks to a big Minnesota Vikings loss.
The Vikings had just lost a heartbreaking game to the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship game and Punch Pizza took to their social channels to console fans with a free pizza the next day. As my post outlines, the company gave away over 10,000 pizzas that day, set the Twin Cities social media streams a buzz and gained coverage from local TV news and newspapers.
Punch Pizza and their agency was ready for this event as they had prepared an offer for a win or a loss. They had more control over the timing, but it was the timing and the bummer of the loss that made this social media post a big success.
Punch Pizza is one for many small businesses to watch in many ways as they’ve been successful with other social media campaigns and leveraged an employee wage increase to gain mention and attendance at the President’s recent State of the Union address.
The Time To Respond
While the examples above show jumping in at the right time can produce results, you also need to be ready to act quickly and correctly when things go awry. There are many documented social media fires, but the manner in which some companies handle them can even improve their customers perception of them.
As these examples and many others show, the when and how you respond to a social media opportunity can make all of the difference. The right post with the right timing factors into it being a second in time in your company’s brand history or a maybe even a lifetime.
Social Media clock photo via Bethany Hardy