The 2 Most Important Words in Marketing are What If

February 27th, 2013

The Baer Facts Social Media Controversies

Social Media Controversies Addressed, Fresh Each Week

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In this edition of The Baer Facts, I talk with Kyle Lacy of ExactTarget about the recent spate of real-time social media incidents, including the Poland Springs Water zeitgeist moment and the hack of Burger King’s twitter account.

Crisis = Danger + Opportunity

It’s widely believed (although perhaps inaccurately) that the Chinese symbol for “crisis” is danger + opportunity. Regardless of the linguistic veracity of this claim, nothing could be more true in the world of social media marketing. You must keep your brand’s antennae up at all times, as today – right now – could be your crowning achievement or crushing blow. It’s called a crisis because you didn’t see it coming. Increasingly, our opportunities are similarly packaged, obfuscated by the fog of social media. 

Nobody wakes up and says “I’ll bet a junior Senator from Florida will pull our water into the live shot of the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address; we better have some pithy tweets and Instagram awesomeness at the ready!” Similarly, nobody wakes up and says “I’ll bet today our Twitter account is hacked and taken over by miscreants.” But both happened, and played out instantaneously on a large, public national stage. Both brands were pilloried by social cognoscenti for not taking advantage of an opportunity, or being too slow to remediate, respectively.

The 2 Most Important Words in Marketing are “What If?”

As we wrote about in The NOW Revolution (still #14 on this month’s 800-CEO-Read business bestsellers list!) brands must be prepared to act in near real-time. We saw Oreo and Audi (interview with the Audi social media manager on last week’s Social Pros podcast) and others do so in the Super Bowl, and that type of always-on marketing will increasingly become the norm, not the outlier, especially given swollen customer expectations around instant social media customer support.

It’s a daunting task, no doubt. But success in this environment isn’t based on software, or personnel, or even preparedness per se:

Winning in real-time marketing requires expanding your belief of what’s possible, and when. (Tweet this)

You’ll never be able to model and practice every scenario. But should you and your company role-play a real-time opportunity (Poland Springs) and a series of different real-time crises (Burger King)? 100% yes.

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