Creating synchronized moments by Michelle Gipson

When R&B singer Jill Scott released her first album “Who is Jill Scott”, there was no advertising budget. Instead, marketers were employed to create what is loosely termed as “word of mouth” to contact key influencers throughout the market to answer the question “Who is Jill Scott.” This technique has worked not only worked in the music industry, it has worked for best selling books. For instance, the Harry Potter series and 50 Shades of Grey benefited from the work of “word of mouth.”

In a recent Annenberg class, I research Egypt and specifically the coup of 2012 that was not televised. Largely carried out by young adults through social media, the youth were able to unseat the ruling government, yet after the first few days of the revolution, the buzz died, the energy faded and power shifted. Similarly, this can happen with marketing campaigns that we might encounter in the workforce. To understand better why some campaigns, political or consumer, or more successful than others, I found information about “synchronized moments”.

Synchronized moments was studied by Dr. Zeynep Tufekci’s and presented in a Ted Talk and adapted for NPR’s Ted Talk Radio. Her research included the political unrest in Egypt and Turkey. Her research also compared those movements to the success of the Civil Rights Movement in Montgomery, Alabama that had no social media to use as a tool, yet its effects were longer lasting than most of the digitally inspired political protest.

Here are the key factors in sustainability:

Time – In order to think together collectively, digitally organized groups need time to commune with one another

Consensus – dialogue must be created to help groups with different agenda agree on how to proceed

Community – when community form past the immediacy of the situation, there is a long-term effect

Essentially, something that happens spontaneously must find organization in order to have longevity. The Civil Rights Movement was organized but it too was an organization that grew from differing factions and opinions. In today’s digital environment, participation happens quickly and grows to large scales. According to Tufekci, “good intentions are not enough.” As communicators, we should help organize these groups into communities to help the sustainability of any integrated marketing efforts we may have for our employers/clients.

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4 Responses to Creating synchronized moments by Michelle Gipson

  1. Marjon says:

    Michelle great topic! But I must admit you have to have patience for synchronized moments to be effective and successful. I think the synchronized moments are what I have to learn embrace when it comes to public relations and marketing. I think being a control freak is not a good mix. The hard part is there is no rhyme or reason as to what will work. Most of the civil rights leaders were stepping out on faith and prayer that their work would not be in vain. Some were even willing to die for cause and those synchronize moments.

    • Michelle says:

      You are right Marjon. It is a “step of faith” and there are probably more activities that do not get as much response as the ones mentioned in the blog, but if you can find the right one, it is worth it!

  2. Hector says:


    I’m glad you spoke on WOM marketing and its impact on the music industry pre-social media. Even with all of the forms of communication that consumers have at their disposal, WOM will never go away and its one of the best forms of free marketing you can ever hope to receive if you’re a company/brand/artists, etc. Also, the key factors you pointed out “Time, Consensus, and Community” are key in maintaining sustainability with synchronized moments. I witnessed this first hand during my time as an undergrad at Berkeley, specifically during the OWS movement. We had an “Occupy Cal” movement that was televised and began to trend on social media. However, because there wasn’t a consensus of what the next move was for the movement, or that everyone could align on the key items that needed to be addressed and met by Berkeley administration, the movement died quickly and within a week everyone forgot about it.

    • Michelle says:

      Glad to hear about your activism Hector! I think the best thing learned is that so many people can be rallied in such a short period of time. Maybe for the next wave of student activist at Berkeley, they will learn from you and your alumni footprints.