Social media has quickly become the first place people turn for quick news updates – whether it is weather, sports, or entertainment related, you’re hitting your social media feeds. Today, that’s the norm – if you want breaking news, chances are that you’ll find it on social media versus traditional news channels. This is where real-time marketing comes in.
Real-time marketing, as defined by marketing expert Ekaterina Walter, is “about raising awareness, creating demand and furthering the brand’s mission through connecting with customers in a meaningful way, in the right place, at the right time, through relevant content.”
In 2013, Oreo made this term come to life when they capitalized on the power outage of Super Bowl XLVII and came up with “Dunk in the Dark.” Since then, brands have attempted to achieve similar success, but what they’ve learned is that it’s not an easy thing.
If you’re like other companies, and are wondering how to make real-time marketing work for your organization, we have a few thoughts on how to make that possible.
1. Let Technology Help You Tap Into The Moment
When considering how your team can become real-time marketers, you need to consider how to discover the big moments that give you the opportunity to stand out. We’re guessing that you’re not clairvoyants, so it might require more than a crystal ball.
There are two ways you can attempt to tap into a big news moment. You can try to plan for it by thinking about the annual events and holidays that come up throughout the year that could create opportunities for you to “tap” into. This means understanding the big events around topics relevant to your brand. Note here, part of this requires that you already have a clear understanding of your content strategy.
Or, you can set up systems that enable you to stay on top of current trends and news stories without working hard at all.
For example, you can tap into relevant hashtags or trending conversations. Head over to Twitter and start searching. Find out what topics are trending (via the “Trends” column on the left), what hashtags are popular and figure out if they are relevant to your brand. Where current trending topics intersect with your brand, there lies your opportunity.
Have Team Members on Watch: If you’ve already identified the big moments or events that might be relevant to your brand, have your team on watch during those events (think the Oscars, March Madness or the Super Bowl… to name a few). Plan for a number of scenarios that might occur that intersect with your brand in a natural way. Prepare imagery, tweets or video, and when (if) the moment happens…
Become Familiar with LinkedIn Pulse (located under the “Interests” tab in the main navigation): Find relevant news and insights via LinkedIn. It’s a great way to be part of the conversation around topics important to your brand. Make sure to explore the Discover area and choose a number of topics or people to follow.
Sign Up For Google Alerts: Google Alerts are a great way to stay connected to current news that is pertinent to topics related to your business. Set-up relevant Google alerts so you can stay on top of the latest. Just visit Google Alerts and key in the words or phrases that are relevant to your brand. Google will email you when something shows up that meets your criteria.
Check out Google Trends: Google Trends is an online search tool that you to see how often specific keywords, subjects and phrases have been looked up over a specific period of time. A feature called “Hot Searches” also displays a list of the day’s top 40 search queries.
2. Create the Right Environment Before You Need It
Much of what makes real-time marketing successful is having the right team and culture in place to drive that kind of innovative, creative and agile thinking. Typically, marketers may spend weeks and months defining a campaign and crafting content, but that won’t work if you want to latch onto the latest social trend.
As you consider your marketing for the year, an agile approach requires that you consider how you can build systems that allow you to act or react quickly (without regretting it later). What does this mean for us as marketers? We need tools (see above), time built into our schedules to react in the moment, flexibility to make split second decision, creativity to maximize opportunities as they arise, and a bulletproof understanding of our brand and its goals so that we don’t inadvertently sabotage our hard work the rest of the year.
The need to move faster is greater now than it has ever been. Finding ways to speed up both content development and the creative process (to be able to be reactive to timely topics) is increasingly important.
Key take away:
Rethink your creative process. There is typically a lengthy chain of stakeholders eager to review and approve content but real-time marketing means your brand needs to be able to react and share quickly. You need to find a way to create a process that works for the organization but also allows you to be brilliant in the moment.
3. (Always) Keep Your Message Relevant and Simple
First, real-time marketing isn’t going to be about crafting your next BIG idea. For you to succeed at real-time marketing, it requires throwing out the big idea mentality and adopting the belief that small ideas, multiplied over time, create equally effective impressions and memories. It’s not about WOW, it’s about ongoing engagement and excitement.
Remember, as you look to tap into real-time marketing, that you’re not creating the next big brand campaign, you’re creating small, relevant moments that impress your customers and make you memorable in a different way.
Audiences have grown to expect brief messages – look at the popularity of Twitter and Vine – less is more. What’s important is being hyper-relevant with your content.
Of course, this model still requires planning, preparation, and vision, but there is certainly a shift towards developing a series of smaller campaigns that still connect to your brand. That leads us to our last tip.
4. Stay True to Your Brand
Real-time marketing doesn’t replace marketing strategy, it supplements it.
Above all else, when attempting to leverage real-time marketing, make sure it’s still “on brand.” Having a full understanding of your overall content strategy allows you to know what topics are a good fit or a bad fit for your brand. For example, last year, SELF magazine offered up exercises to do at home, while watching the Grammy’s. This is content that is relevant and valuable to their community, and true to their brand.
Proceed with Caution, Yet… Proceed.
Real-time marketing can be great for your company, if done right. We do advise that you think through your efforts (oh and act quickly at the same time, of course). While we believe there is a true opportunity in real-time marketing, we also know it can go very wrong if not done properly and we don’t want you to fall victim to that! So, remember, be real, be relevant and be timely. It’s simple… really!
What was your favorite real-time marketing experience?
Contact our team today to begin a conversation.