Four minutes. That’s how long it took for the first Twitter advertiser to bid on “power outage” as a search term after the lights went out at the New Orleans Superdome.

It also didn’t take long for cookie giant Oreo to respond to the now-infamous #superbowlblackout, spawning more than 13,000 re-tweets and nearly 5000 favourites.

Minutes after the lights went out, Oreo tweeted an ad at 8.48pm, saying: “Power out? No problem. You can still dunk in the dark.” Despite shelling out thousands of dollars for a coveted TV ad spot during the sporting event, it turns out that the most powerful bit of marketing during the industry’s night of nights was free.

Although the lights were only out for 35 minutes, Oreo’s cleverness and intuition to strike while the iron is hot will be remembered for quite some time.

According to Buzzfeed.com, the key to executing such a swift and gutsy ad was having a “brave brand” and Oreo executives in the room who approved the ad in minutes.

It’s an unusual move for such big company, and one which has been lauded for its creativity, freedom and brand knowledge. Oh, and millions of dollars of free publicity as well.

Such is the power of social media, where one small post could lead to enormous amounts of press coverage and exposure. Are you still a doubter? In the time it took you to read the opening paragraph of this post, you could have signed up for a free Twitter account which could potentially give you exposure to millions of eyeballs in the social media sphere. Or you could’ve invited 50 people to become fans of your business on Facebook. You could also have pinned a promo for your event on Pinterest by now.

Social media marketing has grown enormously from a fringe service into a massive and viable strategy for companies of all sizes, due to its low cost and easy upkeep. As more Americans spend time in online environments via laptops, tablets and smartphones, it’s more important than ever to stay connected and solicit feedback from current customers and potential leads.

So what are you waiting for?

─ Eliza Sum 
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Mellissah Smith

Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.

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