Monday, May 6, 2013

Real Time Marketing: The Heart of Social and Your Business

Is your company engaging in real time marketing? You should be! But if you are, are you having valuable, engaging conversations with your consumers? Almost all of today’s important cultural moments from sporting events, award shows, to elections are instantly documented using social networking sites. As much of the world’s activities and conversations move to online platforms, it is becoming increasingly more important that marketers find creative ways to join these dialogues. Consumers want to engage with other consumers during popular live broadcasts and events. Now, consumers are also expecting their favorite brands to join in the conversations. In their 2013 report, "Real Time Marketing: Is Driving the Brand Narrative," Edelman said, " In order to break through the clutter, brands must create engaging, visual content that connects with consumers about things they are thinking and talking about in real-time." Social media has consumers demanding greater transparency from brands including increased responsiveness to their complaints and praises and greater participation in popular online events.

What drives social networking sites such as Twitter…it is the real time aspect. Consumers are discussing news events and television shows as they air. As a brand, you don’t want to be the user that is posting updates after the broadcast has ended. Real time marketing has become an integral piece of companies’ online strategies. Marketing strategist, David Meerman Scott says real time marketing is “when companies develop products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.” Real time marketing sparks conversations about your brand when online participation is at its highest. Engaging in these conversations shows consumers that your company is up to date on popular culture and forward both technologically, but creatively. The heart of social media is that it has in the moment and the heart of your business should be engaging in that moment. 

In a Fast Company article, Gian Lavecchia, a digital marketing straegist, said, "News cycles and modern culture move quickly, so in order to break through, you must create an environment that supports active testing and iteration to generate the key insights that will help you navigate this new world moving forward."

After reviewing these articles as a IMC graduate student, I have found three overlapping themes that were mentioned by each author and will aid you in bettering your real time marketing. These three tips will help you win over your audience and connect with the culture: 
1.      Understand the Moment: For the less obvious and popular events such as the Super Bowl or Grammys, brands have to research their audience to understand why they care about the event. What draws in your consumers to certain broadcasts and what brings your brand into the conversation?  Lavecchia says, "In this “always-on” marketplace, brands are now tasked with tapping into everyday moments as they emerge with genuine wit, creativity, and timeliness to help drive cultural relevance with their audiences." As a company you have to understand what is happening in popular culture and why consumers are so drawn to a cultural moment.

2.      Be Authentic and Human: Consumers want you to engage in conversations because you care, not because you are trying to sell them a product. It is easy to spot an opportunity for a great real time marketing campaign, but difficult to realize your creative piece is not relevant. Oreo tried to repeat their Super Bowl magic during the Academy Awards and was quickly reminded by consumers that Oreo cookies had nothing to do with the Oscars.

3.      Incorporate Your Brand Story: Real time marketing is a chance for your company to showcase its best creative talent under pressure.  Before a major event, think of unique and fun ways your brand is related to the event and the consumers watching it. The more relevant you make your brand story to the moment; the more likely consumers are going to engage with your message. Edelman said, "In order to be truly beneficial for the brand, real-time marketing must align short-term, fleeting attention on the stories of the day with the long-term brand narrative." 

Real time marketing is the heart of social media; real time, fun conversations are what draw in consumers and keep them engaged with your brand. Your company should open up and expose itself more to consumers and they will surely fall in love. If you are not engaging in real time marketing you are going to get left out of the conversation.

Leigh F. Lovett is in the graduate Integrated Marketing Communications program at Medill. She is the Social Media Director of Vitamin IMC and Assistant PR Director for the Medill Cause Marketing Initiative. Leigh can be reached on Twitter at @leighlovettpr or on @SocialPRWorld

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