A year ago, if a brand wanted to become part of the national dialogue on the biggest ad buy day of the year, it was pay-to-play. But technology, in the form of social and the second screen, has changed marketing irrevocably — for the better.

One year ago, and seconds after the Mercedes-Benz Superdome lost electricity, I responded to the debacle with a single tweet on behalf of Audi, and the floodgates of what would be called “moment marketing” opened. Other brands like Oreo, Calvin Klein, Jim Beam, and PBS responded in a timely way, and the rest is history. Since then, we have seen brands attempt to insinuate themselves into every live event and breaking news story, anxious to become part of the trending dialogue, with decidedly mixed results.

Moment marketing is when a brand responds to an unforeseen event – breaking news, unexpected dialogue, a pop culture happening – with a relevant comment on social media. At its essence, moment marketing cannot (and should not) be brainstormed or outlined in triplicate as part of a content calendar. And because of its very nature – always moving and impossible to predict and anticipate – it’s the single hardest thing in social to execute successfully.

As social matures, brands and agencies have tried to put a regimented framework around efforts. A ‘Social Media Command Center’ can be in many ways a black hole of superfluous technology, process, and procedure. It’s something that began as an image – the larger the team and the more flat panels in a room, the more important the brand. However, the resulting additional layers of complexity, process, and technology do little to guarantee success in the moment marketing age – that comes down solely to the individuals involved.

The Super Bowl ad and the millions that go along with it isn’t going anywhere, but bad television creative can be quickly overshadowed by a skeleton social media team leveraging quick wit in ways traditional advertising never could. Technology provides the means, but the connection that begets virility is made at the most human level. Moment marketing done right can only work when a brand steps away from the steering wheel and enables its best and brightest to take the corporate entity in directions no one predicted. A very scary thought for even the most relaxed suits, but one that I argue needs to be embraced at all levels.

Only a handful of brands are set up to accomplish this end game because it literally demands corporate give up the keys to the kingdom to a select few. A lean but empowered social team can and will save a brand from itself. Can you recall any ad in particular from last year’s game? Only the most groundbreaking and affecting of TV ads have a half-life longer than the ad itself. Yet the one blackout tweet, produced by a skeleton team, made Audi the center of the conversation — not their Super Bowl spot.

The phenomenon that is the second screen has made television advertising not redundant, but a curious onlooker to the dynamic conversation that happens around it.

For most brands lacking huge ad budgets, the idea of capturing lightning in a bottle, which is most assuredly the definition of moment marketing, is their one and only opportunity to get anywhere near the stage the Super Bowl presents. More spectacularly, the fact that one good idea, one good line can break through the noise and eclipse the effectiveness of a $5 million dollar ad buy is the very essence of the democratization of social: the People invite a brand into the collective consciousness, not corporate sponsorships, and not money spent. My two questions ahead of this year’s big game are: What will be the moment, and who will make it their own?

Andy White is Director of Social Business Strategy at Sprout Social, a social media management and engagement platform. Follow him @white.