If not, you might remember Oreo’s “famous” tweet during the Super Bowl when the lights went out (pictured on the right). That’s an example of real time marketing.
In a nutshell, real time marketing is when a business creates “on-the-fly” marketing content around a topical event.
Usually, it’s something in pop culture like the Super Bowl or the Grammy’s or the finale of a popular TV show. But then again, topical events happen every day.
The content might be in the form of a Vine video or a tweet or Facebook post.
Oreo isn’t the first brand to do something like this, but they’ve kind of been celebrated this year as the best example of it in recent memory.
In fact, it comes up in almost every conversation on The Inside Social Media Podcast as being an example of great use of social media.
It’s so tempting to think that as a business owner you can easily replicate Oreo’s success.
What most people don’t realize, though, is this “on-the-fly” overnight sensation for Oreo was almost two years in the making.
Tons of planning, organization and strategy went into that tweet; hardly a fly by the seat of their pants social media coup.
Adding to it, Oreo was running a TV spot during the game, too, which they’d paid a lot of money for and had been planning for for a long time.
It’s widely reported that Oreo had created “a command center specifically for the Super Bowl, complete with a 15-person social media monitoring team plus artists, strategists, and brand executives with the authority to green-light content on the spot.”
That’s when real time marketing is most effective: when businesses can plan for events they know about (the Super Bowl, for example) and react quickly and relevantly when something happens they didn’t expect (the lights going out).
Which begs the question, with so much work and cost that goes into making real time marketing effective, is it even feasible for small businesses to take advantage of?
3 Reasons Why You May Want to Sit on the Sidelines and Say Nothing the Next Time a Big Event Happens.
Reason #1: You haven’t defined your ideal consumer
If you don’t know who your ideal consumer is you shouldn’t even consider jumping into real time marketing.
You need to know your target consumer really well. Things like:
- their age range
- the challenges they face
- their likes/dislikes
- what turns them off
Why? Because you need to know what type of marketing message might resonate with them.
Anytime you’re marketing to your consumer, you always want to be thinking about what they might want to hear from you. Add value to them? What’s in it for them?
Irrelevant or marketing messages that are in poor taste can do far more harm to your business than good. And the idea is to capitalize, not damage.
Reason #2: You haven’t consistently engaged with your consumer in social media
As a small business owner, hopefully you can clearly define your ideal consumer and reason #1 above doesn’t pertain to you.
Where small business owners usually fail, though, is they haven’t taken what they know about their consumers and determined where they hang out online. They have no idea what social platforms they’re using.
Let’s take Johnny Tennis, as an example. Johnny is a former pro tennis player who now has a thriving online business selling instructional books, courses and videos.
Johnny specializes in teaching men and women, who are 30-45 years old, mostly with children, and work during the day (super simplified example, here).
He wants to add social media marketing to his marketing strategy to grow his business even more.
And, with the US Open fast approaching, he knows his ideal audience will be talking about the tournament online. That, he thinks, would be a great opportunity to take advantage of and sell his videos and course online.
Smart thinking by Johnny, but since he hasn’t been using social media all along, he hasn’t made the effort to know which social platforms his target audience uses.
And even if he did know where they hang out, he hasn’t made a consistent effort to be on those platforms to listen to and engage in the conversation.
Johnny would be better “served” (tennis pun, you’re welcome) to start building relationships and engaging with his target consumer on the social platform(s) they are using before trying to jump in on the US Open chatter with some quippy marketing message.
Real time marketing works best when you’ve established your voice in social media and made consistent efforts to add value to your consumers.
Marketing messages need to feel natural and much of that comes from having taken the time to build trust with your consumers.
Reason #3: You’re neither prepared nor organized
Knowing that so much planning, strategy and organization that went into Oreo’s successful tweet during the Super Bowl should be enough to make you pause when thinking you can mirror that success the next time there’s a newsworthy event.
And, it takes a lot of time and resources to stay on top of pop culture and regularly monitor the news.
As a small business owner or solopreneur, you’re usually running around like a chicken with your head cut off. You have to wear all the hats in your business.
On top of everything you’re doing, can you also keep up on the latest news and pop culture?
Tammy Gordon, Director of Social Communications and Strategy at AARP sums it up really well: “Real-time marketing is about being fluid, responsive and, yes, opportunistic. You’ve got to be paying attention to breaking news, trending topics and Internet memes and figuring out ways to capitalize or leverage your messaging. And somewhere in there, you have to sleep.”
I’m by no means saying it’s not possible for you and your business but sometimes the best strategy is to simply stay on the sidelines and say nothing.
Why this Form of Marketing May Work for Your Small Business
Ok, so what if you clearly know your consumer, have built relationships with them online and consistently engage with them AND you’re a super organized business owner who loves staying on top of what’s going on in the world every day?
Sweet! (and congratulations, you’re likely in the minority)
This is when you might start considering how to incorporate some real time marketing into your overall marketing strategy.
Notice I said “consider”, not jump into. 🙂
Here are a few best practices for making the most of your real time marketing planning:
- Be prepared. Have a strategic plan in place in case you are presented with a great opportunity.
- Be organized. Goes along with preparation. If you’re not organized you won’t be able to act quickly
- Always be thinking about your consumers and what they might want to hear from you.
- Ensure your message adds real value to your consumers or smartly entertains them. Effective marketing like this is an art.
- Your message should fit into your long-term business objectives.
- Don’t force the issue. Remember, sometimes the best thing you can do is stay quiet.
- Be relevant. Kind of obvious, but your message has to be relevant to the topical event and to your business.
- Be timely. Good judgement is key in knowing when/if you should participate in the conversation.
Other Well-Done Examples to Pique Your Interest
Oreo isn’t the only brand who has done a good job with real time marketing, so let’s give some love to a few other brands who have nailed it.
Also during the Super Bowl, Audi poked fun at competitor Mercedes since Mercedes has the naming rights to the Superdome where the Super Bowl was being played. Notice how many times it was retweeted and “favorited”.
Why this works: it’s smart, timely, relevant, simple, the topic (LED lights) is congruent with Audi’s brand.
The ONE campaign used the opportunity to draw attention to their cause. This was a really smart use of social media.
Why this works: it’s smart, timely, in good taste, relevant and again, congruent with the goal of the ONE campaign.
Is the Super Bowl the Only Good Example of Real Time Marketing?
Of course, there are other good examples of real time marketing outside of the Super Bowl, but honestly they are few and far between in my opinion.
Taco Bell did a cool campaign this year, for example, where they created content by sponsoring a concert at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, TX.
The sponsorship was part of their “Feed the Beat” project which financially supports emerging artists with Taco Bell gift cards and opportunities to become featured in Taco Bell’s ads.
The “real time” strategy was to aggregate content from the concert, including attendees’ Instagram posts, Vine videos, Tweets and video footage onto their site Feedthebeat.com.
Taco Bell is then putting all of that content and footage together in what they are calling a “Rockumentary.”
This is another example of real time marketing but quite different from the Super Bowl Twitter examples above.
How could you model what Taco Bell did?
Obviously, you’re not going to sponsor a concert and have a team to make a rockumentary, but you likely have access to a phone with a camera and video camera. You likely know a ton about your consumers (like we discussed above) and they likely have smartphones with cameras and video cameras.
What kind of unique content could you create with those simple resources that coincides with a special product launch or sale that you’re running?
The Bottom Line
My goal with this article is to share with you that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to making this “new” trend of real time marketing work for your business.
It looks so easy but there’s a ton that goes into it for it to be effective.
Jumping in on the conversation around the next big event when you likely shouldn’t can quickly damage your business’ reputation and I don’t want to see that happen.
The cool thing is, though, when you’ve done your homework, are prepared and organized, smart “on-the-fly” marketing can really help your business.
So what do you think? Is real time marketing going to be part of your overall strategy? Share your thoughts in the Comments below.