As the age-old adage goes, timing is everything – and marketing is no exception. A social media post that's simple, yet timely has the potential for a greater, more immediate impact than an ad campaign that's been meticulously planned for months. Take Oreo, for instance, whose playful tweet shortly after the Superdome lights went dark during Super Bowl XLX in February, launched a "real-time marketing" frenzy. The brand posted an image of an Oreo on its Twitter page, dimly lit on a white-backdrop, with the clever tag: "You can still dunk in the dark."
Both Oreo and real-time marketing were mentioned nearly 2 million times on Twitter after the fact, according to Mashable. So how can you leverage social media to create a big moment like this for your own brand? Start by taking small steps that could result in a big pay-off. Here are three ways to get there.
Understand Your Audience
Communication is the focal point of any great relationship. It's important to utilize social media to not only talk to your customers, but to listen to what they're saying as well. Hash tags within Twitter and Facebook, for example, allow you to be a fly on the wall, catching the latest news that people are buzzing about. Leverage those trending topics to create social media posts on behalf of your brand, and be sure to incorporate the same popular hash tags you discovered in your research.
Take the Local Angle
If you own a small- to medium-sized business, locality and timeliness can work collectively in your favor. Let's say you're a Miami sports bar and grill. After the Miami Heat won the 2013 NBA Championship, it would have been the perfect time to release a series of posts that tie your menu items in with the event. You could have posted a picture of your spiciest wings with a brief caption that read: "They turned up the heat this season. We did, too. #miamiheat2013champions" If you wanted to take it one step further, you could have created a special, limited-time spicy appetizer to celebrate the win, with a catchy name that plays off of the Miami Heat. The dish could have been advertised through Twitter, with a 10 percent off deal to any customer who retweets it.
Identify Other Influencers
Determine what other brands, publications or communities are relevant to your audience and monitor them closely. Consider subscribing to industry magazines, online publications or e-newsletters your target audience might also be reading, based on their demographic. You could even start a "Google Alert," which pushes email alerts to your inbox whenever new online content is released that matches a term you pre-selected. If you run a women's clothing store, for example, you could set up a Google Alert in early September for "Fall 2013 fashion trends."
In addition, look for forums, discussion boards or blogs within your space that receive heavy traffic and engagement. If you're currently a member of LinkedIn, you could join a LinkedIn Group, which brings users together to discuss a common interest. You could even create a LinkedIn Group of your own and invite others to attend.
Whatever your social media strategy is – first and foremost – it's important to have one in place long before an opportunity arises. That way, when the time is right, your brand will be primed and ready to step into the spotlight.