When Brands Tweet

Yesterday was the weirdest day I've ever seen on Twitter. Here's a quick summary:

BREAKING NEWS: Adrian Peterson reinstated

BREAKING NEWS: FCC approves net neutrality rules

BREAKING NEWS: LLAMAS ARE LOOSE IN ARIZONA

BREAKING NEWS: IS THIS DRESS WHITE AND GOLD OR BLACK AND BLUE?

The two stories that garnered the most attention, of course, were the llamas and the dress. I have to admit that I enjoyed the llama story, one black and one white, slaloming through would-be captors and inspiring future generations of camelids to pursue their dreams. When the black one was caught, more hilarity ensued. It was fun.

Then, the dress happened. Someone, somewhere, posted a picture of a dress and...I'm not going to indulge this any more than I must. Suffice it to say, the headline above comprehensively describes the issue. And yet, people joined in. And more people. And then brands. By late evening, Major League Soccer teams (suspiciously, all around the same time) began chiming in with attempted clever tweets–emphasis on "attempted." Again, I'm not going to indulge them. For the record, I'm still seeing brands that have nothing to do with dresses or fashion arriving late to the party and embarrassing themselves.

This is where I began to think about rules for when brands decide to break from their worlds and cross into others with a little light-hearted banter. This is what I came up with:

Be timely, be different, and be relevant, or say nothing.

If Snickers is going to tweet about Luis Suarez biting a guy at the World Cup, it needs to be timely, different, and relevant (it was). Wait a week and the effort will feel lazy and unnatural. State the obvious, echoing countless others, and look stale and unimaginative. Go after an obscure event that requires explanation and context and risk confusion. 

It's not rocket science; it's common sense. Social media is inherently social, but not everyone has to be invited to every party, particularly when it comes to brands (as opposed to individuals who, for the most part, can finagle their way into just about any conversation).