Is Twitter ‘Literally’ the Best Instantaneous PR Tool Out There?

In his speech at the Democratic National Convention, Vice President Joe Biden did what he always does: He took a major detour from his scripted speech. In an effort to hammer his points more graphically, Biden injected the term “literally” nine times. In one sentence, he managed to get the word in twice ("In the first days, literally the first days that we took office, General Motors and Chrysler were literally on the verge of liquidation").

Viewers quickly jumped all over this, fired up their computers, their iPads and their smartphones and began tweeting like crazy. #literally became one of the hottest hashtags on Twitter as fans expressed their amusement and/or their disdain of Biden.

So how did the Obama team respond? Rather than stay on the defensive, they took advantage of the advertising opportunities for promoted tweets on Twitter.

Promoted tweets allow advertisers to take target an audience that is searching for a particular word or combination of words. In this case, the Obama social media team knew people would be searching for the term “literally.” Because the team purchased the word “literally,” when people searched for the word, the first tweet they saw was from Obama (@barackobama) himself. The tweet quoted Biden’s most effective line of the night, “Osama Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive.”

The Obama social media team had been similarly quick to respond during the Republican Party Convention. When actor Clint Eastwood had a “conversation” with President Obama (represented by an empty chair), the Obama team immediately posted a photograph on Twitter of the back of Obama’s head as he sat in a seat clearly marked The President. The tweet simply said, “This chair is taken.”

Politicians aren’t the only ones who can use the power of promoted tweets and social media monitoring to make nearly instantaneous reactions to comments made on Twitter. Southwest Airlines and JetBlue have been incredibly responsive to tweets, turning negative comments into PR wins. No matter what your business does, sells or promotes, it is critical to both monitor online sentiment about your brand and then react quickly and positively to those comments.

Has your brand (or brands you represent) turned lemons into lemonade with the effective use of responsive tweets? We’d love to hear your stories.

Follow Jon Gelberg: @Jon_Gelberg