With the widespread acceptance of social media, digital and mobile platforms, marketing to people in real time, tying into real events as they happen has become a real thing. And if done right, like the Oreo Super Bowl blackout tweet, you can create a lot of buzz with some lasting impact. Yet, even though it has been around for a long time, so many marketers do it so wrong. In fact, one of my favorite regular pieces is what Digiday does after every holiday and big event. They run all the worst attempts by brands to tie into the event on twitter, along with a few that did get it right. That's usually good for a chuckle or two.
Why do so many brands get it wrong. And how can you get it right? As far as brands getting it wrong, I think it's part laziness and part not understanding the process. Some brands just don't put any thought into it other than, hey here's what's trending, let's do something that ties into that and people will see it because it's trending. One of the worst examples of that was when Kenneth Cole tweeted that the rioting and unrest going on in Cairo at the time was because they heard about his great new collection going on sale.
Real time marketing is the practice of creating content that is inspired by a current topic, trend or event. Yes, you have to be fast to make it work. Relevancy has a deadline. But it doesn't exist in a vacuum. It should be integrated into your current marketing efforts and feel authentic to your brand and current campaign. You can't just insert yourself into the conversation without adding value (even if it's just entertainment value) and fully understanding the context of the trending topic. Kenneth Cole didn't seem to fully grasp the context or seriousness of the situation and the tweet certainly didn't add any value to the conversation about Egypt happening at the time.
To be able to respond quick you need to prepare ahead of time. Certain events you know are going to happen: the Grammys, the Super Bowl. You know when holidays are coming up. So, you should prepare for those events with thoughts on how you're going to tie in, but be flexible enough to tweak your marketing to what's actually happening during the event. The Oreo tweet was an example of adapting to what was going on at the time.
Also, you may know of some situations that will affect your brand, but don't know when they will happen. You can prepare for them. We have a client who's product usage could be greatly affected by changes in economic conditions, consumer confidence, job reports and such real time events. So, just this week, we wrote some sample email subject lines tying into those events. Whenever they happen, our client will be prepared to send out a relevant email to those affected by these events. It is a way to make their marketing more effective for them and more relevant for their potential customers.
You can also do research ahead of time on what kinds of content and trends your audience relate to. What are they interested in? What kinds of events or news stories motivate them the most to go on their social channels and become part of the conversation? If you know these things in advance, you can better plan for the real time moments that will connect best with your customers and potential customers. You can have a plan in place to become a relevant part of that conversation and add value. You can make sure that every team member has a clearly designated role to play when these events happen and are prepared and empowered to execute them, when they happen.
Real time marketing can be a powerful tool when used right. It can also make your brand take a serious hit to reputation or likability if you screw it up. So make sure you put a plan in place, work the process you have within that plan and remain flexible enough to adapt to unexpected opportunities. When they do happen, monitor the social feeds to see what the sentiment of your target audience is along with the actual news trend. That way you can adapt the messaging to best connect with your audience.
Have you created a real time marketing campaign? How has it worked for you? I'd love to hear your story.