“Real time marketing,” or using current events as opportunities to market at lightening speed, presents a big risk to a business and yields even bigger rewards if done right. An optimally timed social media post can build your brand, engender customer goodwill, and bring the kind of press to your company that proves the competency of your media marketing team. One example: Oreo capitalized on the unexpected blackout at Super Bowl XLVII with a tweet stating “Power out? No problem,” under a photo with the caption “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.”

Not long after Oreo’s exercise in real time marketing brilliance, Business Insider shone a light on how their social media marketing team were primed for just such an occasion, having focused for the previous 18 months on building a well oiled machine that could effectively react in real time to build the brand. Their strategy of real time engagement coincided with the 100-year anniversary of the chocolate and cream cookie, a year in which they determined they would provide their multitude of fans and followers with one social media post a day. When the lights went out at the New Orleans Super Dome, the team was already standing with their finger on their marketing trigger.

The temptation associated with scoring a viral success in 140 characters or less can lead to unfortunate faux pas, embarrassing missteps, or worse, unintentionally ignorant and insensitive missives that can never be retrieved. As the saying goes, the two certainties in this life are death and taxes. A third is the permanence of everything on the Internet. Companies, both large and small, have been humbled by this newest truth in real time marketing.

The always edgy American Apparel is known for their unique, even avant garde approach to reaching out to their customers and followers. Earlier this year, the socially conscious clothing company was forced to provide a hasty (and not all that believable) apology after a July 4 Tumblr post with the hashtags #smoke and #clouds featured a photo of the NASA Space Shuttle Challenger at the moment of its destruction. American Apparel removed the photo within 45 minutes, claiming the post was uploaded by a member of the marketing team who was born after the tragedy, and thus, was unaware of its significance.

It could be argued that small to mid-sized companies have far more at stake when posting misguided musings to their social media platforms. A small upscale restaurant in Boston called Pigalle received a less than glowing review from one of their Thanksgiving patrons two years ago. Anyone who has ever worked in the service or retail industries knows how they would like to respond and how they must respond. Unfortunately, for Pigalle Chef Marc Orfaly, the Thanksgiving spirit passed him the moment the last dinner was served, and he took to the company’s Facebook page to lambaste the bad review, even going so far as to tell the dissatisfied customer to a engage in a form of self-procreation. A social media tête-à-tête never produces a winner on either side. To prove this point, a Boston Yelp* search of Pigalle informs you that the once acclaimed fine dining eatery has closed their doors forever.

Large businesses are able to employ entire marketing departments whose job it is to score success after success in expanding a brand. Even still, these large companies don’t always get it right. Whether large or small, a company benefits from partnering with IntelliBright that is dedicated to every detail of a profitable marketing strategy. Your marketing partner expertly crafts online content, effectively drives new revenue into the company coffers, and backs up its efforts up with hard, cold analytics. Your business is too valuable for you to not invest in professional marketing services. Just ask Chef Mark Orfaly, if you can find him.