How to Succeed at Real Time Marketing in Social Media

Lance Concannon Lance Concannon, Marketing Director, Europe

(Download our free Real Time Marketing 101 eBook to get the full picture!)

We’ve all seen great examples of brands posting witty content on their social media channels that seems to respond with lightning speed to some current event happening out in the wider world. Oreo responding to the 2013 Superbowl power-cut, Tide commenting on the gold/blue dress photo that divided the internet, or almost every brand in the world jumping onto the royal wedding bandwagon.

This is called ‘real time marketing’ and brands do it because when they get it right, the response can be phenomenal. For the relatively inexpensive cost of producing some content and posting it on social media they can generate a huge amount of brand visibility, the very best examples of real time marketing can reach huge audiences as they are so widely shared online.

There are more tangible benefits too. Research from the agency, Golin Harris, found that brands which incorporate real time marketing into their mix can expect to see double digit uplift in sentiment, purchase intent, likelihood to recommend and other important metrics.

Real time marketing can be thought of as any kind of content that responds to events or phenomena happening out in the wider world that ostensibly have no connection to your business. By participating in these shared cultural moments, companies are able to join conversations that are already generating a lot of interest and, if they get it right, the viral distribution of their content amounts to free (or very cheap) advertising. It’s particularly useful for businesses which are reliant on their brand. Oreo is a good example, because there’s only so much you can say about a cookie (or any other commoditized product), so they need to find creative ways to keep their brand visible. Inserting the brand into already popular social media conversations can be an effective tactic.

A lot of our customers use Sysomos to help with real time marketing, and we think there are four common attributes to content that works well:

  • Timely – you need to share content while the conversation is happening. If you’re too late, nobody will care.
  • Relevant – your content needs to have some sort of meaningful contribution to the conversation. You can’t just add a trending hashtag to an entirely unrelated tweet.
  • Shareable – the goal is to get your content seen, and that means it needs to be in a format that can be easily shared, to help it go viral. Tweets, Facebook posts, short videos, GIFs are all fine, but not silly things like PDFs, long-form blog posts or two hour videos.
  • Authentic – the most important, and least tangible, factor. This boils down to the question of whether people believe what your brand is telling them, if they buy into what you’re doing, or is it painfully transparent that you’re jumping onto a bandwagon for profit?

When done well, real time marketing can look like it just happens naturally, but nothing could be further from the truth. If you want to introduce this tactic successfully for your brand, you need to be prepared and you need to have resources in place to manage the process properly, otherwise it simply won’t happen consistently.

The first thing to do is map out a process for how it could work in your business. What kinds of things could you respond to, what would the content look like, how does the brand voice sound, what kind of angle would it take when commenting, what sort of visual style would images have, how would you want to handle people responding to your content? These and many more questions need to be considered and worked into a plan of action.

But just as important as creating a plan is assigning roles and responsibilities, don’t just assume all of this stuff happens under its own momentum. For every step in your real time marketing process, somebody needs to be given responsibility for making sure it actually happens – if you don’t make it part of somebody’s job, then it becomes nobody’s job.

An important point to bear in mind is that not every piece of real time marketing content you create will be a hit. In fact, unless you’re exceptionally lucky and have a highly talented team, most of the stuff you create won’t set the world on fire at all, but it’s all about persistence, keep creating new stuff and trying different angles, and some of it will work. Once you’ve had a few big successes you’ll get better at understanding what works for your brand, and gradually your hit rate should improve.

To learn more about how to build a successful real time marketing strategy, download our RTM 101 eBook today.