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KitKat's #Bendgate tweet

KitKat's #Bendgate tweet

If you have any exposure to social media in 2015, “Real-Time Marketing” is undoubtedly one of the phrases you’ll hear (besides “bae” and “fleek” of course). Maybe you’ve even been asked what your real-time marketing plan is for your brand this year.

In a recent article on The Outreach Marketer, Nick Rojas defines real-time marketing as “a way to make the most of the continuous flow of information via the internet right now.”

Real-time marketing is about immediacy, flexibility, and creative responsiveness. And it happens on Twitter most naturally because of the platform’s instantaneous, rapid-fire format. You may recall KitKat’s tweet about #bendgate in 2014. Rojas’ presents this tweet as an example of real-time marketing done right. The brand saw an opportunity in the moment – and ran with it.

Might real-time marketing seem overwhelming though? Possibly. How can you make real-time marketing realistic for your brand? Here are three suggestions:




Smartcar's tweet

Smartcar's tweet

Think Smaller
We’ve all seen the Oreo “dunk in the dark” example referenced ad nauseam. Oreo has made some of the biggest real-time splashes. But constantly holding brands like Oreo and KitKat up as examples creates the impression that only brands with a huge cultural cachet are capable of real-time marketing. It also suggests that only major cultural events warrant a real-time response. The truth is that real-time marketing needn’t be so lofty. Consider Smart Car who developed this infographic in response to a tweet that claimed, “Saw a bird had crapped on a Smart Car. Totaled it.” Find real-time marketing opportunities in the humblest of places. It doesn’t get much more humble than bird poop.


Pantene's Oscar tweet

Pantene's Oscar tweet

Add Value
Rojas’ characterizes KitKat’s response to #bendgate as “appropriate and funny.” These two descriptors apply to most successful real-time marketing endeavors, or at least the ones we talk about. But humor isn’t the only value real-time marketing can add. Most people are capable of a fuller range of emotions. Most people can appreciate something inspirational, uplifting, thought-provoking or educational. If a brand doesn’t feel that humor is in line with its character, that doesn’t mean real-time marketing is out of the question. It just means that the approach shifts to adding value in other ways. Here’s an example of how a hair care brand leveraged real-time marketing during the Oscars. Funny? No, but Pantene provided value in an appropriate, educational way befitting their brand. Find ways to provide value with both immediacy and relevance.












Bring Social Back
Rojas’ states that with real-time marketing, “the commentary is relevant, because the brand is adapting itself to a story that’s already established, rather than pushing a story of its own.” It is exactly what much of modern advertising is all about: meeting your audience where they are. But it also seems to be one of the hardest concepts for brand marketers to comprehend at times: how does a brand share its message, its claims, its #1s and Bests, without being the guy at the party who says “Let’s talk about me”? Real-time marketing is a delicate balance of tact, social strategy, and humility. It’s about inserting yourself naturally and authentically into an existing conversation with your consumers. This is achieved with proper knowledge of your audience, the trend, the situation, and most importantly your brand. It’s not done blindly or haphazardly (unless you want to be referenced as a cautionary tale… looking at you, DiGiorno). Brands should actually find the concept of real-time marketing reassuring rather than frightening since it helps drive what all marketers strive to achieve: intimate audience understanding.


Carefully planned ad campaigns have certainly earned their place in the brand marketing tool box. But brands should also take advantage of the immediacy of social media platforms. Real-time marketing is a key component to a healthy, well-rounded social media approach. And you really shouldn’t feel frightened or overwhelmed by it. Keep it simple, add value, and execute according to modern advertising principles and all will be fine. The opportunities for real-time marketing are out there, every day, every minute, every second – we look forward to a timely tweet from your brand soon.

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