Shortly after the Superdome lights went dark during Super Bowl XLX in February, Oreo tweeted a qipppy photo, which immediately launched a “real-time marketing” fervor.
Since then, people have mentioned Oreo and real-time marketing nearly 2 million times on Twitter, and countless articles and panel sessions have examined how marketers can replicate the “Oreo moment.”
But the truth is, real-time marketing success starts with a brand’s day-to-day activity, not a single well-timed moment. Don’t swing for the fences your very first time out. Implement small, real-time marketing initiatives on a regular basis; patiently teach your audience they can expect timely, relevant communications from your brand. Then, when a really big opportunity arises, your team is poised and ready to make the most of it.
“You need to cultivate the principle of little bets, a concept coined by Peter Sims,” explains author Jon Burkart to Fast Company. “In other words, the willingness to foster lots of small, experimental creativity to put things out there and see what sticks.”
You must also understand the tone and nuances of the conversations taking place in the spaces where you are socially active. Your interactions need to be creative, highly contextual and timely, on topic and pitch-perfect. And people need to know you, or they might not listen.
Finally, don’t get caught in the trap of thinking real-time marketing is just about newsjacking. In fact, it’s more about “trend” jacking: inserting your brand in relevant, timely conversations on an ongoing basis.
So how do you get there?
1. Get your team and process in place.
The first step is putting a great team and process in place. You want to staff channels well, giving teams the dedicated time and ability to immerse themselves as regular and authentic community cogs, with a trusted voice and point of view.
The team also needs to closely integrate with the other processes in the organization. Oreo had strategists, marketers and even legal working together to streamline creative production, decision-making and approvals. Take the time to analyze how your organization works, as well as who needs to be a part of the process. And figure out how you can facilitate internal collaboration around news and activity across all your platforms.
2. Identify the high-level communities relevant to your brand.
If you’re GoPro, a high-performance camera for adventure athletes, you’ll wade into freestyle aerialist ski competitions, park and pipe events, downhill mountain biking and skydiving. Identify the core areas in which your brand plays, then start to map out adjunct areas to research and verify across social channels.
For example, if Burton snowboards notices GoPro is trending, it could immediately kick off a Twitter campaign tied to the #GoPro hashtag. The brand could tweet out a series of awesome videos on the hashtag or even provide a just-in-time offer for that community, which would be highly relevant to that audience.
3. Monitor the space closely.
Your team should also begin to identify the daily trends, topics, sub-topics, quirks, habits, news and tendencies in each of your spaces. Discover the influencers and their roles in the community. Start to gauge the tone, attitudes and flavor of the population. Set alerts in your social media analytics tools when conversations start to gain momentum around certain key phrases or search terms. Track and monitor buzz to reply or share key pieces of content.
4. Start generating high-quality, quick turnaround content.
All of this setup will situate you in an excellent position to start generating content. Retweet the top viral content and post to your social networks, or engage directly with influential people who are tweeting. You can even create small campaigns on the fly.
For example, if people start tweeting about a freestyle skier’s new mohawk, Red Bull could start a Twitter debate or even a voting campaign to get people engaged in the discussion, with the brand at the center of it all. Or if you discover a photo going viral in one of your communities, grab it and start a caption contest on Facebook. Wade out gently at first to test the waters, perhaps sharing content with your lesser channels to see how it goes over.
As you advance, build content from the conversation into social ads, particularly as you see traction for particular content or campaigns.
MediaWhiz’s Keith Trivitt shares advice for sporting brands that could apply to all businesses’ real-time marketing strategies: “The reality of real-time social media marketing in sports is that it’s not just the big, epochal moments that make for great marketing opportunities for brands. It’s what you do to integrate your brand within the broader context of the sporting event, between the pitches, between the downs and after the whistle blows, that sets the digitally savvy brands apart from [the] bystanders.”
How does your brand fit into relevant social media discussions? Share your real-time marketing strategies and tips in the comments below.
Image courtesy of Flickr, Selbe B
Keith Messick is VP of Marketing at Topsy, the premier social analytics platform for real-time discovery and marketing. He has 15 years experience in sales and marketing for technology companies of all sizes