Real Time Marketing: Is It Right For Your Brand?


It was the tweet heard around the world. At the height of the American election in August of last year, Clint Eastwood delivered a speech at the Republican National Convention, where he spoke to an empty chair. Within the hour, the official President Obama Twitter account tweeted a photograph of a chair engraved with “President of the United States” on it, with a simple caption: “This seat’s taken.


Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, this was a defining moment for social media. Corporate social media accounts are viewed by the public as great to follow for sneak peeks and deals, but there is an understanding that while you may tweet to a friend and get immediate attention, if you tweet to a brand, you might be waiting a while for a response.


This simple act of monitoring, and having a killer response at the ready set President Obama apart, and lent more credence to Real Time Marketing.




Real Time Marketing is a system of delivering the right message to the right people in the right moment. It tends to involve social media, as that is the quickest way brands can listen to and engage with their audience, but it isn’t always the case. Telling a waitress it’s your friend’s birthday and getting free cake and a song? Real Time Marketing. Visiting a hardware store with a question about your sink, and being sent home with a free washer to fix your leak? Real Time Marketing. The tools may have changed, but the feeling customers get and the loyalty they show is the same. Oreo’s famous Super Bowl blackout tweet was the biggest media hit of the event.


Basic Considerations


Real Time Marketing is a very hard feat to pull off because it is both time and labour intensive and requires a lot of buy-in from a lot of decision makers within the organisation, having creatives on standby, having access to a large library of approved visual and language elements, (and in some cases, answering a lot of questions from legal).


The payoff can be huge, and if your posts do go viral, you can get great brand coverage and fan engagement numbers.


Before you put together a business case for using Real Time Marketing, you need to ensure a few things:


  1. Is your brand one that has a touchpoint to a major event? Sometimes, it’s not obvious. You don’t have to have a sports brand to reference the Super Bowl, but it might be hard to reconcile your wrench brand with The Oscars.
  2. Do you have enough time to get the necessary team together to work out your action plan for Real Time Marketing an event?
  3. Can you assemble all visual assets and building blocks you will need, including approved messaging types, so you can create new work at a moment’s notice?
  4. Do you have a goal going into the event? Even though the actual content of your posts will be off-the-cuff, you will need to set up a goal and build a strategy to see that goal through. (For instance, Barack Obama wanted to disrupt the noise surrounding the RNC. The goal was to turn the mentions in his favour, which he did.) Your goal might be to introduce a new line, a new way to use a product, or you might simply want to compete head-to-head with another company in your space.


Getting Started


The most important thing to ensure this type of campaign goes smoothly is to identify the critical people (from art to legal) who need to be on board, and in the room on the day.


Set up a meeting where you agree to exactly how everything is going to work, right down to who is sitting where for maximum efficiency. Discuss with IT which types of collaboration tools you may need to see and approve art, and decide how your social media team will communicate and who will be the ultimate authority on approval. Practice this beforehand if you are worried.


Set goals for what you will define as success. Not every brand will have success like Oreo. Only you can define what success is against your spend.


In the run up to the event, DO YOUR RESEARCH. There are stories you can be talking about. If it’s an awards show, buy every celebrity magazine, and stake out celebrity blogs to find a scoop or an angle for your updates. Have some canned talking points ready to go, so there doesn’t appear to be a large gap in your commentary closer to releasing your Real Time message.


Prepare a list of the hashtags most likely to be in use for your event. Remember, there usually isn’t just one. The Academy Awards hashtags, for instance, are equally #oscars, #academyawards, #oscars2013 and #oscars85.


Once you’ve found a moment, it’s time to execute on your plan. If you’ve done the correct amount of planning you should be able to move swiftly and make lightning-fast decisions. Remember to have 2 people check for spelling, grammar, and tone errors.


Measuring Success


If you’re using a social media analytics tool, you should be able to see the immediate reach of your campaign. Likes, Retweets, Favourites, Facebook shares, replies, and comments are all immediate signs of success. New followers and fans are also an indicator of success.


Don’t discount the days after the event. Keep monitoring your social media channels for a halo effect, and use blog search tools (and Google Alerts) to capture any press mentions of your campaign.


If your update was an image, you can also use Tineye to get a rough count of how many times that image shows up in blogs or websites.


Real Time Marketing isn’t new as a concept, but social media allows brands to send a tailored message out in a way that delights fans and finds new fans due to its network effect lift.


The biggest hurdles to getting your Real Time Marketing campaign off the ground are assembling the stakeholders and establishing the routine for game day.

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