It’s been an interesting month for Apple. The excitement of the iPhone 6 and the iWatch was dampened by the leaking of private celebrity pictures with #thefappening and the more damning #BendGate. As you have no doubt heard or witnessed in the various ‘how to destroy an iPhone 6’ videos circulating, it seems that you can’t intentionally bend a new aluminum phone without doing it some damage. Weird, huh?

Clearly this is a much smaller problem than the hype would have us believe, but it didn’t stop bloggers and commentators embarking on a giant-killing mission that set the social world on fire. The hashtag #BendGate trended heavily worldwide - potentially a social media crisis for Apple, but for Kit Kat possibly its social media ‘win’ of 2014.

“It helps to think of this social media win as a witty friend at a party”

When #BendGate took off, the team at JWT saw an opportunity to ride the wave of conversation with humour while reinforcing the brand message. Kit Kat posted an image of a perfectly snapped Kit Kat finger with the caption: “We don’t bend, we break.” The image was hash tagged with #BendGate and #iphone6plus, placing it within the Twitter conversation surrounding the news. In terms of reach and engagement, the post has overtaken Oreo’s ‘dunk in the dark’ reactive effort launched during the Super Bowl ad break. To date, Kit Kat leads Oreo, almost doubling re-tweets and tripling favourites for the post.

So, is this the green light to start ‘hijacking’ trends for reach? Far from it. There are numerous examples of brands with terrible social media strategies jumping into all sorts of trending topics surrounding natural disasters, even 9/11. Predictably, these did more damage than good.

The core component for success in social media is audience relevance and, of course, adding value to the conversation. It’s an over-egged metaphor but it helps to think of this social media win as a witty friend joining a group at a party and opening with a quip. He’s adding value, he’s relevant and he’s received warmly.

Being reactive is everything to staying relevant. For fmcg brands, staying relevant is tough. What’s more, achieving cut-through for an audience’s fragmented, socially driven attention span is a greater challenge. I would estimate that 30% of any good social media strategy and community management should be dedicated to reactive content and engagement. Taking advantage of the ‘reactive’ social opportunity does demand a strong level of trust in your agency or internal team and - crucially - the most undervalued skill in social media marketing: a level of common sense surrounding which conversations to join and which to avoid.

John Barton is managing partner and co-founder of TestifyDigital