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Are brands done playing the real-time marketing game?

Lisa Bregman's picture

Ever since Oreo capitalized off a blackout during the 2013 Superbowl, “real-time marketing” has been a dominant trend for brands on social media. We haven’t been able to watch an awards show or major sporting event without seeing a slew of brands try to jump into the conversation. Throughout the 2014 Superbowl, so many brands hopped onto the real-time bandwagon that they began to just talk to each other directly - without the fans! During the recent World Cup, despite the minor successes of a few brands around incidents like the Suarez bite, the failed real-time efforts of KLM, Waffle House, Delta and other brands stood out considerably more than any small social media win. (For a few other good and bad examples from the recent World Cup, click here:

While Oreo’s response last year helped the industry evolve the way we approach marketing on social media, few to no brands have been able to pull off anything of that magnitude since then. Oreo’s efforts were a unique situation where the brand and agency had planned, practiced and put a process in place to interact if the situation should occur. The result was a successful, authentic, real-time response. Other brands’ numerous attempts to replicate this since have led to the virtual disappearance in authenticity as users are subjected to awkward, and sometimes offensive, posts. This lack of authenticity is one of the biggest problems with real-time marketing. Regardless if it is a real-time response or not, it needs to fit the voice and message of the brand or fans will ignore it or even punish the brand for it. In an effort just to be a part of the conversation and make themselves heard above the social noise, it seems brands are forgetting this as well as their overall objectives..

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However, hopefully participating in real-time situations has helped marketers to better understand their fans as well as some of the diverse uses of social media. Now it’s time for brands to realize that this is simply one more tool in the toolbox and should not be an entire strategy. Our favorite social networks are in a constant state of evolution and the list of social platforms on the playing field is both growing and ever-changing. Facebook and Twitter are evolving into paid media channels, with changes to the Facebook algorithm reportedly causing brand pages to see reduced organic reach as low as 1% of their audience. Additionally, users follow significantly more accounts than even a year ago, so there is a need for a measured approach to social media. Planning a campaign and creating quality content for that campaign that tells the brand story is a necessity. Look at the approach Nike and Adidas employed during the World Cup as a great example of successful, comprehensive strategizing... Both brands timed the roll out of their campaigns so they were relevant - though not necessarily always live or real-time - and supplemented with paid social buys like you would on other marketing channels. Adidas’ #allin campaign was supported by the company’s biggest ever media spend and also included athlete activation and some live content at key moments.

In addition to quality content and a plan, every social media strategy should include listening (and responding) to the fans, keeping in mind what they want. Sharing quality content is an expectation but components like giveaways, special offers, exclusive experiences and contests are perks and give fans a reason to continue to follow and engage with brand social media accounts.

Like everything in life, real-time marketing is best in moderation and part of a comprehensive strategy. While the occasional Oreo is fine, we need to round out our consumption habits with foods from all parts of the pyramid.

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