The marketing world was awakened to real time marketing during Super Bowl XLVII when Oreo seized on the lights going out and tweeted “you can still dunk in the dark.” Was it brilliant creative? Did it sell a lot of cookies? I don’t know. What got the industry’s attention wasn’t what was done, but that it was done at all.
Predictably, the following year for Super Bowl XLVIII, marketers were armed and ready to flap their lemming wings and do “me too” real time marketing. It fell as flat as the Bronco’s defense. Oddly, brands mostly engaged with and reacted to other brands, flooding streams and feeds with attention-soliciting marketing, the kind of thing that can get a brand unfollowed.
So…is real time social marketing good or bad? Effective or non-effective?
It depends on your definition of real time marketing, and there are many. A Realtime Report study found 68% of marketers think it’s responding to trends and current events, like our Super Bowl examples. But more, at 76% and 74% respectively, think it’s personalizing content depending on customer interactions with the brand, and responding based on a consumer’s web interactions.
So real time marketing as a stunt is iffy. It’s very difficult to do well, in meaningful ways, and if you do it poorly it’s fraught with backfire potential. That doesn’t mean end all talk of brand newsrooms; just consider that the news you report should perhaps be about the brand or industry as opposed to hijacking unrelated trends or events.
But real time marketing as a result of intimately knowing your audience and delivering relevant content to them at the most opportune moments, based on indicators they’re sending at the time…that’s smart real time marketing. It’s enabled, of course, by real-time listening that lets you tap into how customers are currently feeling and what they’re currently thinking about.
The rewards? The Realtime Report showed 81% of marketers surveyed see increases in engagement as a key benefit of real time marketing. Better customer experiences (73%), increased conversion rates (59%), and improved brand perception (52%) were also cited. A separate study from Golin Harris showed real time marketers can expect a 21% bump in positive brand perception and an 18% increase in likelihood to buy.
So while real time marketing certainly has its critics, if your brand’s approach to it is to tap into the genuine needs individual customers have of you and provide solutions in time to make a difference (as opposed to inserting your brand irrelevantly into whatever’s hot), then you’ll be providing real value and will be welcome any day, any time.