When Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., reached for a bottle of Poland Spring water during his response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, it quickly became a social media meme.

That incident could have been exploited in the moment by Poland Spring or parent Nestle, a real-time marketing amplification to match the “Oreo standard” from this year’s Super Bowl power outage.

Instead, it was a day later when Poland Spring posted a picture on its Facebook page (which still garnered an impressive response). Ah, what could have been.

Some argue that not every marketing opportunity is worth pursuing, and that is certainly true. However, there’s a big difference between choosing not to respond and not having the capability to respond.

What’s missing from the analysis of the Oreo story is that the event on which the brand capitalized occurred during the Super Bowl. The brand already had a command center set up. It had brand and agency representatives all in one room. This type of gathering is the “black swan” event, as we have increasingly fewer cultural moments that bring us all together. Social and the Internet have fragmented attention and channels, so moments when a brand can focus all of its resources on one thing (the Super Bowl, the Olympics, etc.) are few and far between.

Yet, these kinds of marketing opportunities will still arise … and perhaps come even more often.

As Jay Baer correctly points out, “Permission is the Enemy of Speed,” and for a brand to “win the speed race that has no finish line,” it must empower employees on the front lines to make decisions — sometimes right, sometimes wrong, but always empowered — to fan the flames.

But empowerment alone doesn’t go far enough. It’s necessary but not sufficient.

What’s also needed is global social infrastructure that ensures social marketing gets in front of the right people at the right time.

To do this, large companies attempting to manage a large volume of messages require:

  1. A rules engine that can automatically tag, prioritize, sort and filter messages based on keywords, geolocation, influence or custom profile properties.
  2. A natural language processor to score messages for sentiment or intent.
  3. An automated workflow to route messages across teams, functions, divisions or geographies.
  4. A message queue that lets individuals pass opportunities to other groups without having to know the name of a point person.

That’s the tip of the iceberg, because we haven’t even talked about security, governance, permission, compliance and other concerns.

Oreo set a high bar in the Super Bowl. Poland Spring showed the height of expectations. All of this represents a tremendous opportunity for brands. Acting quickly after the fact — or even during the moment, in real time — is critical, but so is global social infrastructure to ensure consistency of brand voice.

Jeremy Epstein is vice president of marketing at Sprinklr. Ranked “most capable” social media management system by Altimeter Group and Econsultancy, Sprinklr enables more than 200 household brands to be Social@Scale. Connect with Sprinklr or Epstein on Twitter or anywhere else on the social Web.

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3 Responses to “Real-time social at scale: Oreos, Marco Rubio and unplanned moments”

  1. swcalise says:

    great points. what tools do you find help build the "global social infrastructure" and meet the req you listed out?
    Thanks.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I'd also throw in content creation, curation, and dissemination, just to be more specific.

  3. implementation of a successful tool that encourages job creation.

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