At last year’s Super Bowl when the lights went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, I worked for Audi and I sent a single tweet on its behalf. Other brands followed suit, and these tweets demonstrated how a brand can take ownership over an event and steer the conversation in an entirely new direction that perfectly encapsulates a moment in time — all in less than 140 characters.

Since then, many more brands have attempted relevant responses or clever interjections to unforeseen events. Whether they’re responding to a big game, a breaking news story, or an unexpected conversation, they tweet away in hopes of being propelled into the social stratosphere. Yet because of its very nature – always moving and impossible to predict and anticipate – it’s the hardest part of social to execute successfully. While you obviously can’t predict what the next big moment will be, you can prepare to take advantage of a new paradigm in marketing.

While advanced planning, content calendars, and on-brand messages are critical to successful engagement, “moment marketing” can be a complementary tactic to your overall efforts. As we eagerly prep for this year’s big game and the world’s next moment, here are five social brand strategies and expert tips for winning engagement:

1. Lay the Groundwork

First and foremost, empower your team. To react in the moment and assure relevance, the approval process must be as streamlined as possible. As a precursor to “big events,” bring stakeholders together in a single room and arm them with the ability and authority to react quickly and seamlessly to any happening. Even outside of major news or pop culture events, you should set up your social team for success by placing trusted individuals behind the keyboard and allowing them to work autonomously to bring your brand’s voice to life.

2. Know Your Audience

Don’t shoehorn your brand into a conversation where it doesn’t belong. Yes, the Super Bowl is the biggest live event of the year, but can you make your social entry into the conversation anything other than forced? Yes, that news event is trending, but is it something your demographic would be paying attention to? The second moment marketing takes on the appearance of corporate, you lose any opportunity to reach a wider audience.

3. Embrace Emotions and Creativity

Being present isn’t enough. Being timely isn’t enough. Contributing something smart, on-point, and insightful is what will stand a chance of being heard amidst the noise of a global social event. This is where having top-tier, specialized, front-line personnel in place comes in. Very rarely does a traditional copywriter translate successfully to the nuanced dialogue of a social network.

4. Be Self-Contained

Moment marketing is the art of crafting a response quickly, leveraging the strengths of each respective channel — be they text, photo, or video — without recourse of an outbound link. To be in the moment is not only to be with the audience, on their second screens, but to produce something that can be consumed, accepted, and passed along within seconds. Time is always of the essence in social marketing, but this is no where more true it is in moment marketing.

5. Don’t Force It

This bears repeating. Yes, that trending topic looks tempting – it means access to all those eyeballs and an immediate connection to popularity! But consider two key points before placing your brand in the limelight: relevance to your audience and your brand’s core values, and appropriateness. Don’t let your eagerness to be part of the conversation cloud your judgement and tempt you to stray from your brand’s authentic voice.

Moment marketing is the ultimate organic social execution. Be prepared and open to the opportunity and when you’re successful, that success can result in millions of impressions across all forms of media, and in a refocusing of national dialogue to include your brand. That’s all without spending $5 million on a 30-second ad.

[Image credit: Austin Kirk]