Real-time Social at Scale: Oreos, Marco Rubio, and Unplanned Moments

by Jeremy Epstein 22 Feb 2013 Social Marketing@Scale

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

That momentary spark for the brand could have been exploited by Nestle/Poland Spring in the moment, a real-time marketing amplification to match the new “Oreo Standard” from the Super Bowl. Instead, it was a day later when they posted a picture on their 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 to not respond to an opportunity and not having the capability to respond to an opportunity.

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

Yet, the marketing opportunities to be leveraged 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” is going to require empowered employees on the frontlines making 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 a global social infrastructure that ensures that social marketing opportunities get in front of the right people at the right time.

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

  1. A rules engine that can automatically tag, prioritize, sort, and filter  messages based on keywords, geo-location, influence (or spam), or custom profile properties
  2. A natural language processor to score messages for sentiment or intent
  3. Automated workflows to route messages across teams, functions, divisions, or geographies
  4. Message queues so that individuals can pass opportunities to other groups without having to know the name of a point person

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, since we haven’t even talked about security, governance, permissions, compliance, and things like that.

Oreo set a high bar in the Super Bowl. Poland Spring showed us how high expectations now are. All of this represents tremendous opportunity for brands.  Speed (or Real-Time) is critical, but so is a global social infrastructure to ensure consistency of brand voice.


Jeremy Epstein is VP/Marketing at Sprinklr. Ranked “most capable” Social Media Management System by both Altimeter Group and Econsultancy, Sprinklr enables over 200 household name brands to be Social@Scale. Connect with Jeremy on Twitter or anywhere else on the social web.

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