Brand Thought Leadership

Playing the Zero Moment Game

Do you remember Super Bowl XLVII, AKA the “Blackout Bowl,” when the lights went out for 34 minutes at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome? Brands capitalized on this opportunity to post to their communities, playing in the Zero Moment Game – a time brands engage with their communities through digital platforms in real-time.

For brand strategists, it’s vital to grasp the do’s and don’ts of participating in the Zero Moment Game, because in all competitions, there are winners and losers. Your brand may just come out on-top, as the Baltimore Ravens did in Super Bowl XLVII.

Real-Time Engagement
In order to be successful in the Zero Moment Game, your brand should have staff on-hand and monitoring the current event. They should be quick, sharp thinkers prepared to demonstrate the brand’s personality and encourage engagement with their online communities quickly. Posting content that’s timely and relatable can facilitate brand-consumer relations and enable brands to better understand the needs and wants of their communities.

NASCAR successfully engaged their fans and racing enthusiasts through launching the “Hashtag 500” Twitter campaign during the 2016 Daytona 500. @NASCAR and @FOXtv tweeted special hashtags and the 500th “racer” to tweet a custom hashtag, along with #DAYTONA500, won memorabilia from the event. NASCAR received more than 13,000 mentions in one minute, increased their followers by 640 percent and their live audience growth by 22.5 percent, setting a record for the largest social media spike in history and the most engaging season launch ever, according to the Twitter Awards.

Connect with your Audience
Posting simultaneously with live events can be challenging, but brands who have built a foundation of mutual respect with their communities will better understand how to connect with them. Solely spewing out company propaganda or advertisements will lose the interest of followers, so mix it up with enticing variety. Producing unedited, raw material will harness the trust of consumers and show the brand has meaningful objectives. Smart brands can modestly manipulate the situation to create their moment.

Fortune Magazine ranked General Electric as one of the World’s Most Admired Companies for 2017. The Digital Industrial Company has nurtured and maintained its relationship with their online community by keeping up with pop culture and clearly identifying their policy and goals. GE’s #BalanceTheEquation campaign pledges to hire, recognize and celebrate women in industrial industries. GE made their moment during the Oscars, the second most watched show on television, with their commercial proposing a society where female scientists are treated as celebrities, and featured Mildred Dresselhaus, a Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee and “The Queen of Carbon.” GE’s #BalanceTheEquation movement on social media also takes a lighthearted approach to deeper topics through pop culture references.

Be Tasteful
Don’t get consumed by the “zero” aspect of the Zero Moment Game and sacrifice the values of your brand. Acting swiftly and sharply are essential components of the game, but if a post does not reflect organizational beliefs then opt out and don’t play. Striving for creativity, wittiness and even “puniness,” will attract your audience, given that it’s executed tastefully and maintains the integrity of your brand.

Cinnabon experienced first hand the consequences of posting before thinking, receiving harsh backlash after posting a tweet about the death of Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia from Star Wars. The tweet said, “RIP Carrie Fisher, you’ll always have the best buns in the galaxy.” Online communities were outraged. People claimed Cinnabon sexualized and degraded Fisher’s death, and ultimately Cinnabon deleted the tweet and posted an official apology statement less than six hours later.

Playing the Zero Moment Game can be tricky for brands, but when done tastefully in real-time to engage and connect with online communities, brands can use these moments to their advantage. Don’t get caught up in the moment, create your moment.