When a partial blackout hit the 2013 Superbowl, the Oreo social media team sprang into action with their “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet, earning more than 15,000 retweets, 20,000 Facebook likes and untold accolades from the marketing world.
“There are two versions of real-time marketing,” Berkowitz told Vocus.
“One version is popularized by instantaneous conversational marketing and culture-jacking, like Oreo at the Superbowl and other tentpole events. But in a broader sense, it is marketing optimized to take advantage of what’s going on at the moment.”
2014 Trend: Real-Time, Planned Ahead
Real-time marketing involves planning and preparation, as well as treating part of your marketing business as a newsroom.
“As marketers invest more in marketing as a conversation, they’ll be looking for moments in which they can have a relevant role,” says Berkowitz.
For example, marketers had seven months of lead time to prepare for the royal baby’s birth in the UK earlier this summer. When the baby was born, many marketing efforts seemed real-time; however, teams had planned well in advance.
Berkowitz says: “The real challenge was figuring out how to market in a way that adds value, whether enter- tainment or for a brand that sells baby clothes, perhaps offering a royal discount. But there are lots of brands that don’t need to say anything at all – when a Facebook or Twitter feed is filled with me-too approaches, it can add noise.
“If you’re a fashion brand, of course you need to be part of the conversation during Fashion Week, but a non-fashion brand may not need to join in.”
Consumers will increasingly access real-time events on mobile devices, so make sure that your marketing works well in mobile channels. Many social networks have mobile clients with slightly different capabilities than on the desktop, and many websites don’t look as good on a mobile device. Test, evaluate and make any needed changes.
If your brand would benefit from real-time marketing, how should you prepare?
Berkowitz’s team brainstorms about sporting events, fall TV, celebrity gossip, holidays, back-to-school and more, with opinions welcome from everyone in the office (in any role). This list of triggers gives them an advantage when they want to be prepared on behalf of a client, or to promote their own agency.
Next, pay attention to trends on Twitter and Google search. See what’s driving the conversation around things rele- vant to your brand. If you already track your customers and their connection to your brand in social networks, see what they’re talking about and how you can participate while adding value.
Berkowitz’s agency clients use benchmarks such as likes, shares or comments being generated in volume above average to measure impact. They also look at site traffic benefits and search volume lifts if the effort has struck a chord.
“Even if you’re not tracking a specific link or short url, you should look for correlated successes,” he says. “But these kinds of things are often more about engagement than hard ROI.”
Finally, Berkowitz stresses becoming “better friends with your lawyers” before engaging in real-time marketing. Help the legal team understand the scope of what you’ll be talking about, he suggests. They won’t have to approve every brainstorm idea if you can get a sign-off on a range of what’s allowed.