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As an enterprise social media leader, you’ve likely been asked the dreaded question: “How do we go viral?” 

Going viral on social media can allow your brand to reach thousands, if not millions of consumers rapidly, so it’s easy to understand why executives might be asking for it. 

As Sprout Social said, “Going viral on Twitter or TikTok allows brands to gain cultural relevance and increase awareness faster than ever before.”

However, reaching viral numbers does not occur based on a stroke of luck, and you’ve likely asked yourself whether it should even be the goal of your team’s efforts. After all, social media buzz can be short lived, and can even bring unintended negative attention to your brand. 

The online freelance writing resource, Constant Content states, “There’s no doubt that viral success can be a tremendous marketing victory for a brand. But it’s important not to focus too intently on going viral and losing sight of your real goals: creating consistent, engaging content that delivers value and establishes a relationship with your target audience.”

Perhaps your sites should not be set on going viral but rather on maximizing the impact of marketing opportunities as they emerge in real time. 

How do you identify and capitalize on real-time marketing opportunities? Here are three major brands and members that found success.

1. Procter & Gamble’s TikTok challenge to encourage social distancing Board Member Procter & Gamble, whose membership is led by Board Chair and Global Newsroom Leader Lauren Worley, went viral in 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic for their social media campaign #DistanceDance


Stay home & do the distancedance. Tag me & the hashtag in your video. P&G will donate to Feeding America & Matthew 25 for first 3M videos #PGPartner

♬ Big Up’s (feat. Yung Nnelg) – Jordyn, Nic Da Kid

When Ohio Governor Mike DeWine called upon P&G to help inspire the younger generation to practice social distancing, the brand partnered with TikTok star Charli D’Amelio to do a video challenge. 

Charli kicked off the campaign with a dance video that amassed 6.9 million views and encouraged her young audience to stay home and record their own #DistanceDance videos. 

Today, #DistanceDance has garnered more than 18 billion views in addition to serving a higher purpose. For the first 3 million videos posted, Proctor & Gamble donated to Feeding America and Matthew 25: Ministers to help families in need. 

P&G’s campaign serves as a strong example of how a brand can raise brand awareness and maximize a real-time social media opportunity while staying true to its core principles and philanthropic goals.

2. Audi capitalizes on viral social media news from “Wheel of Fortune”

Sometimes the best social opportunities emerge from unexpected places. Board Member Audi of America experienced this following a controversial “Wheel of Fortune” episode.

A “Wheel of Fortune” episode went viral on Twitter after contestant Charlene Rubush narrowly missed out on the chance to take home a new Audi Q3. Charlene guessed the correct answer to the puzzle, which was “choosing the right word,” but briefly paused before finishing the phrase moments before the buzzer went off. 

During the episode, host Pat Sajak said they couldn’t allow for that long of a pause and determined Charlene would not win the Audi prize, according to a People Magazine article.

Wheel of Fortune fans took to Twitter in droves with one tweet from Jeopardy all-star Alex Jacobs attracting over 2,000 retweets and more than 20,000 likes. 

Following the episode, Audi of America went on Twitter themselves to track down Charlene tweeting, “You’re a winner in our eyes, Charlene. Now let’s get you a prize.” 

Later on, Audi followed up with fans to announce that Charlene had received her new vehicle.

While Audi was not responsible for starting the controversy on social media, the team took the opportunity to shift the dialogue, build positive brand sentiment, and provide Charlene and those following her story with a happy ending.

3. Oreo’s clever tweet during the 2013 Super Bowl blackout

When it comes to identifying and capitalizing on real-time opportunities, there’s perhaps no stronger example than Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet. 

Oreo biscuits — a brand of Member Mondelez International — went viral during the 2013 Super Bowl, but it wasn’t from its paid commercial. 

When the New Orleans Superdome experienced a power outage halting the game for roughly 30 minutes, Oreo seized the opportunity on Twitter. The brand tweeted “Power out? No problem” with an image that read, “You can still dunk in the dark.”

According to Ad Age, the graphic was designed, captioned, and approved within minutes and was retweeted 10,000 times in just one hour. Meanwhile, Oreo’s Twitter following increased by 8,000, and its Instagram account skyrocketed from 2,000 followers to 36,000 post-game.

Lisa Mann, then Vice President of Cookies at Mondelez International, told Forbes the success wasn’t luck but the result of a carefully architected social-media strategy that allowed the brand to respond quickly. 

Oreo used the Super Bowl to kick off a campaign celebrating its 100th birthday, and because the Super Bowl is such a huge stage, the brand set up a social media command center within media agency 36oi‘s offices to respond to real-time buzz.

“Of course we couldn’t have anticipated the blackout, but in that command center we had brand people, agency people … Because everyone was together, they had everyone in place to jump on a real-time marketing opportunity, which was, how would Oreo see the blackout? And Oreo saw the blackout as an opportunity to dunk in the dark.”

Lisa Mann, former Vice President of Cookies at Mondelez International

Learn from social media leaders at brands like these

There’s no secret recipe to going viral on social media, and capitalizing on the significant impact of real-time social marketing opportunities is a challenge. 

From standing up nimble processes and teams to leveraging tools to move more quickly, brands need a strong foundation if they want to capitalize on trending buzz online.

When it comes to these unique social media challenges, brands like Procter & Gamble, Audi of America, and Mondelez International turn to their confidential community, is hosting a private conversation on how to maximize real-time social media opportunities on August 17 at 2 PM ET, and they’re allowing a small group of industry leaders to join.


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