A view from Andy Nairn

Andy Nairn: Create your own buzz and make your own news

Brands fall over themselves to react to news on social media, but in most cases their comments are instantly forgettable, writes Lucky Generals' Andy Nairn....

By the time you read this, it’s entirely possible that every politician in the land will have resigned and I’ll be prime minister. Or, perhaps, I’ll be in a hospital bed in Cannes, having woken up to find that I banged my head in the Gutter Bar and have imagined everything since then.

Either way, it’s been a hell of a few weeks. But, arguably, the last month is just an extreme example of the truism that time flashes by quicker these days.

When I first started out (now that does feel like ages ago), time was a rather elastic concept and a tactical consideration at best. Nowadays, it is a significant strategic input.

Choosing exactly the right moment to launch an initiative can have an enormous bearing on its success. And the old saying that "every second counts" is literally true (Amazon calculates that a second’s delay in loading time would cost it $1.6bn in sales).

Generally, this is a good thing. I’ve always hated ponderous strategic processes and believe in striking while the iron is hot: the best brands and agencies move quickly and refine as they go.

But in some cases, a law of diminishing returns applies. I believe that one such case is the current vogue for reactive social media.

At times like the present, when breaking news is coming thick and fast, brands fall over themselves to come out with a timely comment. But in the vast majority of cases, their observations are yawn-inducingly unoriginal and instantly forgettable. And no wonder: if you’re the 100th brand (let alone 1,000th tweeter) to draw a "hilarious" comparison between England’s Euro 2016 departure and Brexit, consumers are irritated rather than impressed.

The fact that we are still referencing Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet from 2013 suggests that genuinely famous reactive campaigns are few and far between. And a recent survey from the IPA appears to confirm this: the shift to very short-term campaigns has coincided with a decrease in fame effects, to a 20-year low.

We're still talking about Oreo's Super Bowl tweet three years later

So by all means look out for topical events to react to – it shows you’re in touch with the world and occasionally you’ll strike lucky. But don’t pin all your brand’s hopes on the next royal birth, football win or celebrity fail.

Instead, learn from the smartest players on social media: proactively make your own news, launch your own initiatives, create your own buzz.

This will take longer to plan but it will be quicker to take effect. Which is what you want, whether you’re a prime minister or a recuperating patient.

Now, please tell me Wales won the Euros and Trump has resigned.

Andy Nairn is a founding partner of Lucky Generals.