Is Real-Time Marketing a Hoax?

In a recent report by Forbes, real-time marketing is of more interest to the industry than to consumers: “…the industry is so obsessed with themselves, they started a hashtag during the Super Bowl solely to watch for real-time marketing initiatives.”

In fact, when brands latched onto Edelman’s #OscarsRTM hashtag to track branded real-time marketing efforts, some succeeded, but many floundered. At the same time, Edelman reports that activating real-time marketing programs is winning strategy for brands. “Data from Edelman’s clients who are using our real-time marketing services has shown that this opportunistic content drives a 400 percent to 600 percent increase in engagement.”

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“There’s a difference between real-time marketing and relevant editorial content. True real-time marketing — in which an opportunity is identified and content is created in the same conversation cycle — should only represent a small, but important, fraction of your content mix,” said Edelman.

More often than not, a flurry of likes and minimal shares amount to nothing more than fleeting interest. According to Forbes, brands spend too much time tweeting to each other, commemorating national tragedies and trying — though often failing — to find relevancy alongside real-time events:

If your goal is to be recognized within the industry (which is not a bad thing by any means), then real-time marketing can definitely work. A word of caution though: Poorly executed campaigns can receive more coverage than successful ones. (Marketers LOVE to rip other marketers, after all.) However, if your goal has anything to do with increased sales, retention, awareness or customer loyalty, consider tactics that work toward adding value to your target audience and consumers as a whole.

Connecting with consumers in real-time requires more than industry grandstanding and knee-jerk reactions to prominent events; sensitivity, relevancy and prioritizing content is of paramount importance, and engaging narratives should first be designed according to an overarching editorial scheme. Real-time content should keep fans entertained as well as engaged, and follow a general story line that addresses an audiences varied interests.

Social media strategist Jill Harper made the following recommendations for marketing in real time:

  • Use the resources available to you. Social content does not always need to be highly produced and polished. Audiences respond best to raw, authentic content that connects to their interests. For example, consider special events or behind-the-scenes content you can share with your audience in the moment.
  • Use social to generate the content. Social is inherently real time, so use your social networks to your advantage. You can easily snap a photo and upload it to Instagram on a whim. And new networks like Vine allow you to quickly capture video experiences to share with your fans.
  • Cross-pollinate content. See what content resonates best with different users on different networks and cross-pollinate. A photo that does well on Instagram may do well on Google+ and a video that does well on YouTube could be cross-posted to Facebook.
  • Stay on top of trends. Track what’s trending on Twitter and the media for your industry. Be one of the first brands to share news or comment on a topic your audience cares about (and that reflect well on your brand!).
  • Have a plan for quick approvals in place. Have a structure and plan in place so that you can get timely content out quickly. Seventy-two-hour turnaround times on social content doesn’t equal real-time!

How do you approach real-time marketing, and what have you noticed other brands doing, both to their advantage and detriment? Let us know in the comments.

*Slideshare: The Creative Newsroom: Real-Time Marketing Driving the Long-Term Brand Narrative from Edelman Digital

*featured image: Family Guy

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