Social Media Only Comes in One Speed

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social media speedSocial media is getting faster by the minute. Today, it is getting so competitive that brands and businesses are continuously thinking outside the box on how they can produce content that matches the pace of their audience.

These days, social media waits for no one. If you’re LATE for the party, you’ll probably be covered by all the noise and you might not be able to get your voice across. It could only mean that if you want to be heard by the crowd, you have to be fast; and on social media, that means you have to be REALLY fast.

Speed wins if you want to be the one people talk about on social media.

Jay Baer previously covered a topic about this in one of his blog posts titled ‘Permission is the Enemy of Speed‘. Here is a short quote:

“Ultimately, speed wins. The companies that engage customers on Twitter and Facebook within minutes are making a none-too-subtle statement about their embrace of the social telephone and the primacy of the customer. In comparison, slow response or no response produces a decided “meh” vibe.” 

I couldn’t agree more with him. Speed WINS. We’ve seen it happened during the Superbowl where Oreo was able to take advantage of the blackout situation. They were quick enough to respond and they got talked about the most.

Oreo Dunk in the dark Superbow

Recently a similar situation happened where Philips took advantage of Colgate’s PR backlash. Here is a short summary of what happened.

Colgate decided to offer people a chance to swap their old electric toothbrush for the new ProClinical A1500 worth £169.99, however they failed to estimate the demand and had to shut down their kiosk.

Many who traveled to the location were disappointed as they weren’t able to swap theirs for one. We’ve all seen what comes next: when people get frustrated, they hit social media channels. Many were there to share their frustrations with their fans.
Colagate brush swap disappoitment

Philips then heard about it and decided to take advantage of the Colgate situation to ran an advert.

philips sonicare colagte Pr


To make things better, they also gave away 50 of the Sonic Care electronic toothbrushes by taking advantage of Colgate’s hashtag and pull disappointed fans to join their contest which they only need to take a photo of the toothbrush to enter,

colgate brushswap sonicare


PEOPLE LOVED it. Those who were frustrated were now happy. Many praised Philips for their well executed and speedy campaign which was able to take advantage of Colgate’s backlash.


colgate brushswap phlips

While they understood that they couldn’t give away too many, Philips still offered 60% discount to the people out there who did not want to join the contest.

Due to the quick thinking and speedy implementation, Philips was able take advantage of our unique channel of real-time media and turn Colgate’s bad publicity into positive word-of-mouth for their brand. We all know the early bird catches the bird, on social media the early bird catches peoples attention.

Do note that there is a fine line between taking advantage of hashtags and simply misusing them. We’ve seen the bad taste of Kenneth Cole during Cairo and GAP and Urban Outfitters during the Hurricane Sandy? Which of course explains how GAP and Urban Outfitter ended up in my top 2012 social media failure awards for taking advantage of hashtags.

colgate brushswap

Have you heard of other examples of businesses taking advantage of bad publicity and turning into positive word of mouth? Share it with us below.


  • Lewis LaLanne – NoteTakingNerd

    In this moment, I’m not thinking of any social media examples but one stab at someone’s misstep capitalized upon that I can remember liking was Motorola’s ad for the Droid X that said “HOLD IT ANYWAY YOU WANT” that came out days after the iPhone 4 launched and had the reception issue. I remember thinking that was pretty clever. :)

  • Warren Whitlock

    When I read how speed wins, I had to ask myself “now that we have INSTANT” what’s next?

    Do we get to a point where instant is the ground floor that everyone has to have?

    Is this game over?

  • Ross Simmonds

    Great post Aaron. I love the fact that brands are reacting quickly to news and things happening around us. When Oreo launched their most recent “Baby Cookie & Milk” as a reaction to the Royal Wedding, there was a mixed bag of responses.

    That said, the novelty hasn’t worn off as that one post generated over 4000 shares and likes. The idea of reactive storytelling is something I see brands continuing to embrace moving forward. Like you said, speed wins. Either you’re quick on your response or you’ll be caught looking like a follower.

  • Albert_Maruggi

    in the sonicare response if I was in the development session I would have argued not to give away any and stick to the discount. Why? because it counters the ad that says the best things in life aren’t free. Seems like a contradiction to me. Other than that, the point is to be ready to move when the opportunity presents itself. Well done on that score.

  • Kevin

    Early bird catches the WORM.

  • Harmanjit Singh

    Hi Aaron, late to read this post. One of my favourite case studies related to this area you touched upon is when there was iPhone call-drop antenna gate after the launch of iPhone 4. Remember? Angry users were bashing and criticizing Apple on social media (especially on Twitter). That’s when Samsung jumped in, interacted with few angry customers and gifted them Samsung Galaxy phones free of cost. They got huge positive PR at that time,

  • Raj


    Social media signals are most important factor for SEO, you if want your sites improved SERP, then your website should have social signals as google loves social signals. At current scenario its quit difficult to get followers or likes to easy, you can try service from they are best for social signals

  • Misha Infotech

    Hi Aaron,
    I really agree with your view that speed is the most important factor in social media as people do not want to wait for anything and social media is like the world’s fastest informer today.

  • Stephen W. Anderson

    Pretty much, that speed is so fast it is already yesterday when you are trying to wrap your head around what is actually happening. We need to build our ability to react more quickly, online and if needed offline as well.

    The 24 hour news cycle never stops moving.

  • Chef LeeZ

    It’s interesting that just as it has always been in business and that it applies also to current blogging as in blogging on something while it is hot can make you hot.

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