In an inaugural segment of our video series improbably named "Better Marriage Through Big Data," we take on the idea of brands as real-time content creators, by looking at a fundamental question: In our newly social age, is it incumbent on brands to be always at the ready to respond—with content or with creative—to events as they happen, in real-time? Or is that an expectation that requires an unrealistic level of agility?

The background to our discussion is this: Last Tuesday, during the Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union address, Florida Senator Marco Rubio (his friends call him Paul, BTW) took a long draw of Poland Spring water. Almost instantly, that moment became a trending topic on Twitter.

Meanwhile, Poland Spring stayed silent. The brand's official Twitter accounts, @PolandSpringWtr and @PolandSpringInc, were both quiet—and had been since January 2011.

Hilariously, San Francisco-based writer Jory John (author of the amazing All My Friends Are Dead) tweeted: "Poland Spring Water hasn't Tweeted since July, 2010. Right now, their rep is frantically trying to remember the password."

The brand did respond eventually, posting the following photo on its Facebook page at 1 PM ET, with the caption, "Reflecting on our cameo. What a night!"

The event hearkened to a moment the previous week, during the Super Bowl, when Oreo and Audi famously seized the moment during the game's blackout to create some timely, relevant content in real-time.

So what do you think? Do brands need to act more like journalists—shedding their traditional campaign model in favor of real-time, event- and audience-driven agile communications? Or is that unrealistic and unnecessary, especially in the case of hot-potato subjects such as politics?

Take a look at our video, titled "A Swig and a Miss: Poland Spring":

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Brands as Real-Time Content Creators: Expected or Unrealistic?

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image of Ann Handley

Ann Handley is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author who recently published Everybody Writes 2. She speaks worldwide about how businesses can escape marketing mediocrity to ignite tangible results. IBM named her one of the 7 people shaping modern marketing. Ann is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs, a LinkedIn Influencer, a keynote speaker, mom, dog person, and writer.

image of Tim Washer

Tim Washer is a comedy writer and producer who has worked on Conan, Letterman, and The Onion, and at IBM and Cisco.

Twitter: @timwasher