In a digital world where millions are at our fingertips, brands have a unique opportunity to engage with their audience in real-time, turning unexpected moments into marketing gold. The power of reactive marketing and social listening has never been more evident than in these recent viral tales.

Here are a few of our favourites from 2023: 

In the aftermath of a car catching fire, a TikTok user showcased the durability of her Stanley tumbler, still filled with ice amidst the wreckage. Reacting swiftly, Stanley President Terence Reilly stitched the video, not only offering to replace her Stanley but also pledging to replace her car. This quick response not only garnered a whopping 55.6 million views but also painted Stanley as a brand that cares, creating a positive image among consumers.

It-Girl Alix Earle and friends found themselves stranded in Europe when their Booking.com accommodation turned out to be non-existent. As an influencer does, she shared her ordeal on TikTok and Airbnb reacted promptly, arranging for her group to stay in a nearby villa. Alix’s video, showcasing Airbnb’s proactive solution, now boasts 4.1 million views and has undoubtedly added a positive stroke to the brand’s reputation.

In the midst of viral sensations, an unexpected star emerged on TikTok: Grandma Helen, a 96-year-old TikTok sensation, charming the audience by reciting a risque street slogan for Carnation Milk. The video not only drew more than 17 million viewers, but also brought an old brand into the spotlight, particularly in the minds of a younger audience.  Reacting promptly to the unexpected surge in popularity, Carnation didn’t just stop at embracing Grandma Helen with a $5,000 check, a basket of merchandise, and a sponsored Thanksgiving. They seized the moment, capitalizing on Grandma Helen’s newfound fame to create a range of merchandise, including hoodies, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and totes. The brand not only became top of mind for many young users but also opened a whole new door of opportunity, bringing smiles to the faces of a new generation.

Moral of the Story?

In the digital realm, there is always an audience watching, ready to amplify your brand or criticize your missteps. Tuning into social listening and reacting promptly and authentically to consumers not only resolves issues but transforms potential crises into opportunities for brand building. In a world where every moment is an opportunity, reactive marketing is the key to staying not just relevant,  but beloved in the eyes of your audience. So, listen, react, and watch your brand triumph in the age of digital scrutiny.