written by: Woo Yuen Ching, Rachel

In this fast-paced connected world, brands see the increasing opportunities in social media owing to its huge pool of active audience (i.e. billions of netizens). In order to fully utilize social media functions of real-time updates, instant searches and communications, brands are adopting the approach of real-time marketing. Brands will react quickly to current trends and events and take advantage of their popularity. Often, branded hashtags are included to generate engagements and allow convenient searching.

The Textbook Example: Oreo
Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet in 2013 is regarded as one of the best real-time marketing efforts. In view of the sudden power outage at the Super Bowl, Oreo posted a tweet saying ‘You Can Still Dunk in The Dark’ minutes later, the tweet went viral and received over 10000 retweets within an hour [1]. Up till now, Oreo is still being praised and for its wit and lightning fast reaction, and earned much recognition from the industry, with many articles applauding Oreo’s tweet won the spotlight over those 5 million budget commercials.

Oreo’s famous Super Bowl Tweet

Such speedy response from Oreo, however impromptu, actually is highly associated with much pre-planning efforts. Oreo has a 15-people social media team paying close attention to whatever happened in the Super Bowl and related discussion online. As for the case of Nissan UK, who stood out by posting a royal baby tweet 7 minutes after the royal announcement, the team is believed to have early preparation when they spotted the rumors going around months ago.

Mentalities Behind Real-Time Marketing
In the battlefield of social media, it is a common belief that the faster you are to react, the better you are, and the more attention you will receive. Brands are expected to respond in a timely manner so as to maintain a positive brand perception [2]. If you don’t respond to big events, your brand will lose at the starting line since you did not validate your existence, and marketers may not want to see that happening.

Merits of Real-Time Marketing

1. Meeting the needs of the audience at a lower cost Real-time marketing satisfies our instant need to search and share during the hype. Statistics revealed 52% of Super Bowl viewers will use social media during the games [3], thus brands may be able to capture the attention from such large amount of audience at a much lower cost than that of traditional advertising.
2. Create social engagement with interactive and fun content Social media engagement measures netizens action of like, share and comments [4]. Most brands give themselves a witty personality and publish humorous content, just as SmartCarUSA’s bird crap calculation post cracked us up. Many brands take a step further and reply to netizens’ comment, keeping the personalized interaction going on. Marketers then have to convert those leads to customers, thereby bringing actual growth.
Some Are Just Trying Too Hard For the Sake of Real-Time
1. Inappropriate content
Brands are drawn to whatever big or sudden situations that people may be talking about while forgetting some of them cannot be exploited or taken lightly. Gap’s and Urban Outfitter’s insensitive ‘pun-full’ promotion tweets during deadly hurricanes caused an uproar. With limited time, brands may not have the time to conduct fact checking for their posts, therefore receiving criticisms due to false or offensive content like Delta’s misunderstanding of Ghana’s ecology.
2. Irrelevant content
Sometimes, brands are trying so hard to be part of the trend that they didn’t realize those events or trendy topics are not related to them. Despite how hard they tried, some posts just seem irrelevant and awkward. Audi’s House of Cars and Tide’s stain remover showed no relation to the trending TV drama. Taking advantage of these trends do not helped in brand building.
3. Hard to stand out from the crowd
Every brand wants its own Oreo moment [5]. It is hard to stand out from the crowd when everybody is racing to respond to the same events. Competitors includes not only other brands, but also your own brand. Some brands couldn’t hide their excitement and published massive amount of tweets during one single event, where statistics proved saturation of post will lead to decreasing engagements.
The New Way Out
Timely reaction to current happenings on the social media allows brands to stay connected with people at ‘the moment’, yet, complaints and objections will arise if the real-time posts are inappropriate or irrelevant. Hopping onto trends is not a guaranteed magic formula, and the audience will know you are just being real-time for the sake of ‘being real-time’. Instead, brands should opt for delivering the right content at the right time to the right people, sacrificing neither content and timing. Combining real-time and right-time marketing will be a new way out as this amplifies your marketing efforts, meeting the interest of your audience, at the same time creating relevant and thoughtful content for your brand and customer.
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Fung, K. (2013, February 04). Oreos Super Bowl Tweet: You Can Still Dunk In The Dark. Retrieved October 24, 2017, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/oreos-super-bowl-tweet-dunk-dark_n_2615333.html
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