We live in an instant world. When it’s time to celebrate or commemorate an event, we’re on Social Media. When something happens, large or small, we tell the world, and fast.
We’re on our phones during a disaster, such as an earthquake or a hurricane, checking the Social Media accounts of local emergency services to learn about road closures and other dangers. Letting people know where they can find a dry spot for the night, as many good Samaritans did during Hurricane Sandy. Live tweeting a disaster can bring a community together and help save lives.
We’re on our laptops during a fun pop culture event such as the Emmy’s or Oscars, live blogging our favourite red carpet arrivals, the best speeches, and worst snubs of the night. Using a trending hashtag to show off our witty celebrity one-liners to our fans, and impressing our family with our celebrity trivia knowledge. Live tweeting or blogging can help create a sense of community and add to our enjoyment of the event.
The importance of live tweeting current events has not escaped the gurus running the Social Media accounts of some of the world’s largest corporation’s. When the power went out during the XLVII Super Bowl in 2013, the world took to the internet to share their thoughts, theories and jokes. But within moments of the power outage, Oreo’s Twitter account “won the internet” by releasing a tweet reading “Power Out? No Problem” with the image (below) reading: “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark.” The post went viral, receiving 13,734 retweets in less than a day and becoming the subject of a number of articles (CNET). The simplicity and wittiness of the tweet, combined with the extremely fast uptake on the event currently (and unexpectedly) unfolding contributed to the posts success, and likely generated equal (if not more!) buzz than the company’s expensive Super Bowl TV spot that had aired less than an hour before.
But piggy-backing off a current event to promote your brand can go very, very wrong. When done incorrectly, it can upset, offend, or alienate a customer base and result in serious backlash. Take for example, Spaghetti-O’s Pearl Harbour remembrance tweet, or AT&T’s 9/11 tweet, booth seen below.
These tweets were deemed insensitive by a number of people and, in both cases, the companies were forced to apologize after a flurry of negative feedback (Huffington Post). These are just two fairly recent, extreme examples. Indeed, many companies are still mastering the art of the Current Event Promotional Post, and while there are ways to hit it out of the park, there have been many strikes as well.
Live-tweeting or blogging and piggy-backing off of current events to promote your brand can be a great idea with exceptional results when done correctly. But it’s important to remember that there’s a time to post – and a time to hold back.
What do you think about companies using current events to promote their brand or product? Is there a right time or a wrong time to do so?
(Additional reading: JCPenney’s #TweetingwithMittens)