16.06.2014 Owning the moment vs killing the moment on social media

We have previously blogged on how brands can ‘Own the moment’ when it comes to social media. Last week we spotted something that highlighted how brands can get it very wrong when trying to piggyback on an event to promote themselves.

Original Papa John

An irate Twitter follower tweeted that he had un-followed a certain pizza brand (the clue’s in the hashtag) after they had live tweeted the Brazil v Croatia World Cup game. We were in unanimous agreement here that this was a misguided tactic on the part of the pizza company.

It was spammy, and added no value to the many sports feeds doing the same during the game.

Clearly, trying to own the moment backfired in this instance.

It got us thinking about brands that have triumphed – and failed spectacularly – in their own attempts to own the moment on social media.

Here are our thoughts….

Top Three ‘Killing the moment’ tweets

1. Kenneth Cole and #Cairo

Kenneth Cole #Cairo

This came from designer Kenneth Cole’s personal account. Using the Egyptian revolution, and the associated violence and death, to promote your Spring/Summer collection? Definitely #killingthemoment. Lesson: don’t trivialise sensitive geo-political issues.

Kenneth Cole #Cairo two

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Cole has learnt from his error. He used the phrase ‘boots on the ground’ – widely used in relation to US foreign policy and Syria – to promote his footwear range. He has defended these controversial tweets citing increased online sales as a justification. He says ‘good business strategy’. We say  ‘irresponsible and tasteless’.

2. Entenmann’s and #notguilty

Entenmann’s social media department sent out a seemingly innocent tweet with the hashtag #notguilty to ask followers how they felt about indulging in treats.

The only problem with this is that #notguilty was already trending, as a result of the verdict in the high-profile American trial of Casey Anthony, who was accused of murdering her two-year-old daughter.

The lesson? Always check what is already trending and why, or you could end up making an unintentional social faux pas.

3. Gap and #sandy

Gap #sandy

Gap shamelessly used #sandy to plug their own website, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. It was criticized by many for seeming to trivialise a storm that threatened the lives of many American citizens.

They later released an apology, claiming that the tweet was simply meant to remind people to stay indoors during the storm. But by then, the damage had been done.

 Top Three ‘Owning the moment’ tweets

1. Arby’s, the Grammy’s and that Pharrell hat.

Arby's #Grammys one

We’re all aware of musician Pharrell’s, erm, interesting hat choice at the Grammy’s this year. Arby’s, an Atlanta-based fast food chain, happen to have a logo that closely resembles the hat in question, and sent a simple tweet directly to Pharrell asking for their hat back.

 It prompted over 80,000 re-tweets and nearly 50,000 favourites as well as some interaction from major brands such as Pepsi and Pharrell himself. Despite having no official involvement with the Grammy’s, Arby’s turned this event into a huge marketing opportunity for themselves. A fluke, or quick-thinking genius? Either way, a definite WIN for Arby’s.

2. Nokia and #Apple

Nokia #apple

Nokia used the launch of Apple’s new iPhone 5c to promote its own phone, the Nokia Lumia.

Posted with the tagline ‘Imitation is the best form of flattery’, this cheeky tweet enabled Nokia to share of one of its main competitor’s media spotlight. We love to see a bit of good-natured social ribbing between big brands, so Nokia scored a cheeky victory with this one.

3. Nintendo and #Oscars

 Nintendo grabbed a piece of the Oscars action when they tweeted sympathy for Wreck-it Ralph losing out in the Best Animated Feature Film category. The tweet got 1,210 retweets and 415 favourites.

For those who don’t have children (or aren’t young at heart!), the basis for the film Wreck-it Ralph is a videogame “baddie” who struggles to redeem his reputation. This was a clever move – a videogame company coming out in support of the losing videogame character. We love it!

As you can see, when it comes to owning or killing a social moment, a lot rests on your audience and how they perceive your actions. Even the most well-considered social piggybacking can annoy or alienate followers, so test your idea out on a few objective people before pressing go.

Our top tips?

DON’T trivialise geo-political issues or any life-threatening events.

DO use humour and do the unexpected. A cheeky interaction designed to make a reader smile is ideal.

If you want advice on how to ‘own the moment’ on social then get in touch.