The Highs and Lows of Timely Posts

by · October 16, 201315 comments

A recent post by Scott Stratten got me thinking: Where is the line between shameless plug and mindful, timely brand participation?

Like most things, there is a time and a place for brands to piggyback a current event or holiday as a chance to connect and engage with consumers. These opportunities range from acknowledging a symbolic day of national importance (think Fourth of July) to bringing attention to a playful, off the radar holiday like National Hot Dog day. Holidays can boost engagement, but knowing the “when and how” of execution is important before pushing that share button.

What seems like basic common sense for a digital marketing professional is not always the case, as we’ve seen brands large and small mess this up. A working knowledge of brand alignment and intention carried out with simplicity and sensitivity will take a business a long way.  Let’s take a look at brands that executed with excellence and others that failed miserably recently.

The Royal Baby

It seemed the whole world was on pins and needles in anticipation of the arrival of Prince George of Cambridge, so it’s no surprise that many brands wanted to jump on this bandwagon.

Nailed It: Johnson & Johnson Tweet

JJ Royal Baby

Why It Works: The most obvious connection is that Johnson & Johnson’s products align with the birth of the royal baby that has the whole world buzzing. Not recognizing this current event would have been a missed opportunity, and let’s be honest; there will not be another birth that stirs up more global interest for a long time.

Johnson & Johnson kept it classy with a simple congratulatory message and an image that communicates their product as one “fit for a future king”. The use of the word “brilliant” is in and of itself quite brilliant, being such a popular British word.

Missed It: Chobani Tweet

Chobani Royal Baby

Why This Stinks: Chobani’s product is a far stretch from anything related to the royal birth. This tweet makes me cringe in its awkwardness and inappropriateness.

Chobani should have sat this one out. Yes, social media can be a great way for businesses to connect personally with their fans, but not every occasion should be capitalized on. People can sense when a brand is being inauthentic, and no one likes a phony.  If they HAD to join the bandwagon, a simple “Congratulations from the Chobani family to yours” would have sufficed.

While brand alignment is important and certainly lends itself to credibility and engagement, like Gerber’s Facebook post below, which sparked quite a bit of positive feedback, it’s not always a requirement.

Gerber Royal Baby

Domino’s tweeted out this photo accompanied by a simple “Nuff said. Congrats! #Royalbaby”. Simple, relevant, tasteful. They did not push the envelope by trying to drive sales and traffic.

Dominos Royal Baby

Thankfully, no brand that I’ve come across pushed the envelope too much, but the same cannot be said for the anniversary Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

MLK “I Have a Dream” Anniversary

Let’s start with a look at one of the appropriate, credible posts.

Nailed It: Feeding America Facebook Post

Feeding America MLK

Why It Works: Feeding America, a non-profit dedicated to a human cause, takes the opportunity to share NBC News’ broadcast, featuring issues impactful to mankind. Feeding America’s mission aligns with the sentiment of Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech, making this post extremely appropriate as well as impactful.

Missed It: 35 Denton Tweet

MLK 35 Denton

Why This Stinks: 35 Denton, a 4-day music festival in Texas, took a deeply meaningful holiday and mocked it by equating Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream to the festival’s dream roster. This post, complete with poorly photoshopped image, is self-serving and lacks authenticity as well as sensitivity.  Would you allow your distribution team to blow the customer experience by sending out inventory without proper packaging just to get it out? No. So don’t let your marketing team take shortcuts either.

By the way, something tells me 35 Denton wasn’t even on the list of possibilities for the NBC News segment. (Note: Since the compilation this list, I have visited the 35 Denton page, which no longer has record of this post)

Breaking Bad

Popular TV shows offer are a great way to connect a brand to their audience through a shared interest. While entertainment allows for a more light-hearted approach than a national holiday, there were still some hits and misses.

Nailed It: Warby Parker Tweet

BrBA - Warby Parker

Why It Works: Warby Parker nailed it with their Breaking Bad series finale post on Facebook, keeping it simple and clever, playing on the suspense of the show’s ending.

Missed It: Joyce Evans (Fox 29) Tweet

BrBa - Fox29

 

Why It Stinks: A HUGE miss was TV Reporter Joyce Evans’ glib Tweet that related the Breaking Bad finale to a real life fatal shooting. Evans’ tweet was controversial and insensitive.

It’s clear that respect, credibility and class win and disconnect, insensitivity and desperation lose. A general rule of thumb is that disasters, catastrophic events and trauma are off limits aside from sincere acknowledgement without motivation. Practicing spontaneity and staying within a content calendar can be a delicate dance, so be sure to stop and think before posting. Knee-jerk reactions may cause more harm for your brand than staying silent.

Has your company grasped the concept of “when and how”? How did you come to this and what are some examples of a job well done or an attempt gone wrong?

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About Danielle Terreri

Danielle Terreri

Danielle Terreri specializes in helping brands deliver powerful, creative, and most importantly, effective, messages in the best way. Her passion for strategic communication and branding from ideation through execution aligns with her role as Content Marketing Manager at SME Digital, the digital consultancy behind Social Media Explorer. Danielle has results-driven experience in the social, digital and traditional marketing fields. She’s also the proud mother of Lola, a 12 pound Maltese-Shih Tzu, and is a world traveler always ready for the next adventure.

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  • Brian

    My biggest question behind these triumphs and fails is the process/oversight behind posting content on social media. Timely posts are interesting because there’s a relatively short window to to successfully comment on or capture an event as a brand.

    What kind of preparation are organizations managing in anticipation of these opportunities?

    How can a brand avoid a misstep and still remain relevant (and tasteful) without killing its time window with permissions?

    Thanks for the article, Danielle.

    Brian

    • DanielleSME

      Brian-

      Great questions. Timely posts are unique, and I agree that preparation is important for brands to be successful in real-time marketing.

      While a brand may not know exactly what is going to be posted, they can build a team (writer, photographer, designer, etc.) that excels in impromptu content that is a go-to for current events. Having this team ready for planned events (Super Bowl, Oscars, etc.) will alleviate some of the stress of timely posts. Designating this team, and seeking permission for special-case scenarios, will also save a step when an unexpected event arises.

      Jason Spooner recently posted a great article, Planning For Spontaneity http://bit.ly/1hhx508 that addresses this in detail.

  • http://www.radicalmustache.com/ Mikel Zaremba

    Great post, Danielle.

    Love to see these and use as examples for clients.
    You should consider doing one of these every quarter or so.

    • DanielleSME

      Thanks, Mikel!

      I think that’s a great suggestion and will post a follow-up soon.

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  • Guy R.

    All pretty much true. Here’s a post we did during the Gov’t Shutdown and we nailed it. The traction for us is killer and it is reaching the right crowd: http://www.guidance.aero/government-shutdown-will-affect-gi-bill-benefits-flying/

    • DanielleSME

      Great article, Guy. Very informative, well written and timely.

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  • Andre Johnstone

    Thanks for the article. I tried something last night along these lines. Was hoping for your input? Nailed It or Missed It! ?

    • DanielleSME

      Thanks, Andre!

      I think two things are very important when crafting a real time marketing response:
      a strong connection to the current event that is obvious to your audience and extreme timeliness. If you have both of those and execute in a creative way, you have a strong post.

    • http://www.socialmediachica.com/ Stacy-Ann Hayles | Social Medi

      Missed it for me. Vi Crunch has no relation to the show at all. There must be some relevance to the brand in order for it to work.

  • Isabel Hayes

    As an MBA Marketing student I really appreciate this post. A good reminder not to let a great idea get out of control and end up in the fire pit!!!

    • DanielleSME

      Thanks, Isabel!

  • John

    Good info about facebook like

  • Dan Michel

    Thanks for featuring us and our work to help over 37 million hungry Americans each year.

    Dan Michel
    Feeding America
    http://feedingamerica.org