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February 15th, 2013

The Unrealistic Real Time Expectation

Poland-Spring-B2We all know about Oreo and their “massive win” a couple weeks ago when they turned around a fun (if largely inconsequential) image during the Super Bowl. The company got a lot of headlines in media industry publications for the image they released during the game’s blackout and it was shared quite a bit by normal people on Twitter and Facebook. So, you know, good for them. They captured a moment and had a laugh and both of those are good things.

But the speed with which they were able to produce that doesn’t mean that anything that takes longer than 20 minutes to produce is automatically a failure.

Sadly that seems to be the prevailing opinion regarding Poland Spring’s “blown opportunity” in the wake of its appearance in the Republican response to this past Sunday’s State of the Union speech. The company didn’t produce a fun little image taking advantage of the unplanned appearance until Wednesday, which many considered too late. Here are five reasons why that’s simply not the case:

  1. The “too late” argument hinges on every company having a social media command center staffed 24 hours a day, complete with art director and traditional copywriter, which is massively unrealistic. 
  2. Yes, it’s fair to point out that Poland Spring’s two Twitter accounts haven’t been active for over two years. But that may be part of an overall strategy decision we’re not privy to the logic behind, not an automatic sign of a company that doesn’t get social.
  3. There’s no way the company could have seen this coming, meaning that unlike Oreo there was no rapid response team already gathered together.
  4. The same “social media experts” who are calling this a big fat fail would have advised no official response just a few years ago, instead saying that letting the audience have their fun and not getting in the way was the better course of action. Beware of anyone who gives you guidance based solely on putting their finger to the wind.
  5. This wasn’t a crisis and therefore was not an event that needed to be managed. Having fun is great if it fits with the culture of the company and the goals of their social media program. If not there’s no shame in not jumping on everything that comes up, regardless of what might make the news on any given day.

There are a lot of good reasons to be involved in real-time conversations, especially around fun little mini-memes like this. But not doing so isn’t an automatic failure and I’m hard pressed to believe that lack of official participation is impacting sales one way or the other since the people most likely to be counting the clock are media and marketing industry pundits, not ordinary consumers. Let’s not hold anyone to unrealistic expectations that we wouldn’t want ourselves to have applied to us.

About the Author
Chris Thilk works on the Client Services team, part of Voce Connect, developing and executing social media strategy. You can follow him at @christhilk on Twitter.

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