Speed-to-Market: Social Awareness, Relevance & Context

It’s important to be agile and reactive when you’re managing a socially engaged brand. Consumers are incredibly ‘marketing-savvy’ and most refuse to engage in brand conversations unless the value interchange is weighted in their favour. In other words, the more perceived value you can add to your communications the more engaging conversations you’re likely to start.

It stands to reason then that content must be interesting in order to be perceived as valuable. Without relevance to the consumer in terms of context, there won’t be any interest. Therefore the goal for brands should be delivering relevant content within the right context. That can require flexibility and fast response times.

Relevance is relative

As we’ve covered in previous articles, the 2013 shared event calendar looks eerily empty; no Jubilees, no elections, no Olympics and no events of mass interest. These normally provide easily harnessed opportunities to push out contextually relevant content. A regal crown added to the logo; a pun about a ‘winning vote’; an infographic that collects relevant facts and stats; inspirational copy that plays on the sports hype… these are usually great ways of being heard in a relevant context.

Fortunately for us smaller businesses, we don’t always need an Olympics-sized event to stay relevant since we are generally targetting smaller and more focused market segments. Local occasions, industry-specific changes and market-level events can all provide us with opportunities to start meaningful dialogues.

However, when shared calendars are sparse it’s in the playground of the unforeseen that brands can truly rise above the competition…

The social bird catches the worm

For brands who are prepared, the speed-to-market of contextually relevant messages can be a matter of minutes thanks to Social Media. Oreo recently provided us with a perfect example of this. Here’s how the story goes…

Oreo forked out $4 million for their Super Bowl commercial. As a ‘shared agenda’ event, the captive audience it delivered was worth it. However, when the Super Bowl was interrupted by an unexpected black-out, they also responded quickly with the following message on social networks:

The result? 14,000 retweets and 20,000 Facebook likes. It cost them virtually nothing, yet it was probably the most successful ad released during the Super Bowl; known for being the most expensive time of year for advertising.

So clearly, shelling out huge budgets during big-ticket occasions isn’t always necessary if you want to be relevant and engage consumers. With a little strategic planning and a good following on all relevant social networks you can go a long way.

The unforeseen event doesn’t always need to be part of a bigger event either. Anything ‘newsworthy’ is an opportunity. It could be a local power outage, a success story in the news or even a noteworthy episode on TV that your market probably watched. (The latter could be where those hashtags at the start of TV shows finally come in handy! Many news stories also carry hashtags within networks. Make sure you use them.)

Social media strategy is one of the most powerful approaches to maximizing your exposure without breaking the bank. That’s the great thing about social media; it has the potential to reach out and tickle anyone – and it does.

Resource & retainers

To say that social media is entirely responsible for the success of Oreo’s campaign would be selling their design team short. The ad was a nice piece of creative work. So how did they get it out within 16 minutes of the blackout happening?

In short, the team at Oreo were smart enough to anticipate a potential opportunity. They assigned a crack team comprising Brand, Corporate, Design and Marketing in order to gather the necessary resource, get quick turnaround and instantly sign-off the work.

Furthermore, their designers have a knack for creating malleable boilerplates – just check out their Facebook page and you’ll see a few of them including the Super Bowl one. They  had the layout and format of the ad signed off long before the Super Bowl even started. By leaving space for the messages in the image, they ensure that retweets and shares result in the delivery of the entire message; whichever they choose. So all they had to do on Super Bowl Sunday was wait for that snappy, contextually relevant ad copy to spring to mind. The inherently ‘viral’ nature of that copy took care of the rest.

Your game plan, 2013

Here are a few simple tips for making sure these low-cost, high-reward opportunities don’t slip through your fingers:

  • Follow, follow & share

    You need an audience to be relevant to. Follow everyone who follows you. Follow everyone you want to follow you. Be generous with your networks and share between followers to build a community. The more active you are, the faster your audience will grow.

  • Stay bare-bone ready 

    Create some boilerplate advertisements and lines of sales copy that can easily be modified on a last minute whim. Have a list of easy to adjust tweets and Facebook posts. Always be prepared to be a part of the action.

  • Use #Hashtags for #Relevance

    Use hashtags on social updates so people interested in the topic will find you; even if they’re not aware of your brand. The optimal number of hashtags to use on a single Tweet is two; any more and the copy starts to look a little messy and confusing. Some platforms with longer text fields (i.e. over 140 characters) can lend themselves to more hashtags – just trust your better judgement here, always remembering that readability and effective message delivery are your absolute top priorities! Adding a 3rd hashtag to your brand name (if used) can sometimes help focus your audience and even draw attention to it in activity feeds (meaning more brand awareness).

  • Have an events agenda

    The next time another event happens (big or small – it doesn’t matter what it is), be 100% ready to jump on that social band wagon. The event itself doesn’t necessarily have to relate to you or your business… because the unexpected events that happen around it just might! The event will channel an audience for you so the challenge becomes spotting the relevance. Just remember that you’re only finding relevance in order to generate value: The less relevant your chosen moment is, the less valuable your communication will be. Be sure to temper the desire to broadcast with the desire to remain a trusted source of value!

  • Know the news

    Turn those smartphone and email alerts up a notch and get in the action. Give condolences and offer support in a time of crisis. There will be plenty of focus on current events among most market segments. Congratulate accomplishments and noteworthy good news. Alerts help you to stay in the social game by highlighting the relevance for you; creating more opportunities to broadcast contextually relevant, valuable content.

  • Bring the noise

    Create context by aligning yourself with relevant brands and organisations. Are you in the cookie business? Start a playful dialog with well-known milk brands. “@dairycrest, how many dunks does it take to finish a #YourBrand cookie? #Milk&Cookies #dunkaholic”. Are you a jam manufacturer/distributor? Start a playful dialogue with a bread brand and a peanut butter brand. “@PeanutButterCo @Warburtons, how many PB&J sandwiches do you get from one pot of #YourBrand Jam? #PBversusJ #GoldenRatio”

In a nutshell… Be ready to pounce in an instant, with a keen eye for contextual relevance.

Posted by Paul

Paul is our Head of Marketing and digital strategy specialist. A Google certified SEO expert and Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing, he has worked on award-winning campaigns since 2003.

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