How to Pull Off Real-Time Marketing Like a Pro

Kevin Bobowski Vice President of Marketing , Offerpop

Posted on April 1st 2014

How to Pull Off Real-Time Marketing Like a Pro

This is the era when a single tweet, composed in a couple of minutes, can outshine an advertisement that costs millions of dollars and months to produce and broadcast. 

Real-time marketing — the practice of brands engaging their online audience around a live event — is a big opportunity for brands of all sizes. The recent Academy Awards resulted in 11.2 million Oscar-related tweets and 10.4 billion Twitter impressions. That is huge potential reach for a brand that shares the right messaging at the right time.

Real-time marketing might seem as simple as composing a few snarky tweets, but in reality, it is not that easy. Real-time marketers need to do more than just gain attention — they have to captivate a real-time audience while tying that viral message into their brand’s overall marketing strategy.

In 2013, Oreo struck real-time marketing gold during the Super Bowl power outage. Since then, brands have not only been chasing those magic, real-time marketing moments, they have been pushing for viral posts that are more effective at integrating that social audience into a marketing strategy focused on converting exposure into revenue.


In 2014, Buffalo Wild Wings got twice as many retweets as Oreo’s 2013 win by responding to the game's uneven score with a clever tweet: "Sorry fans, we don't have a button for this." The tweet referred to the company's own tongue-in-cheek ad campaign about their ability to influence games.

Buffalo Wild Wings did not buy a Super Bowl ad, but chimed in on Twitter to gain some Super Bowl exposure without blowing through a big ad budget. By being timely and relevant, the restaurant chain got widespread exposure at little expense.

The real-time marketing potential for brands just keeps on growing. So how do you capture some of that real-time magic?


  • Leverage User-Generated Content (UGC): Kick engagement up a notch by curating event-relevant content from your fans and followers. For example, Ted Baker prompted attendees of their spring/summer runway show to share their photos with the designated #TedBakerSS14 hashtag, and then featured the content on their website, bringing the experience to wider audience. Any real-time marketing approach becomes more engaging and participatory when you weave in a UGC element.  
  • Strategize Beforehand: Before you attempt real-time marketing around a live event, sync up with your team to decide your strategy. Discuss the key messaging you want to convey, and the topics or points of view you want to avoid. This will help you be nimble and brand-relevant, while avoiding poorly conceived posts that could harm your brand.
  • Be Brand-Relevant: Take a page from Buffalo Wild Wings and focus on events that have an obvious tie-in for your target market. Or at least find a clever way to insert your brand into the conversation. Tide opted out of a Super Bowl ad, instead creating a series of Vines that paid tribute to Super Bowl advertisers while integrating the Tide product.
  • Think Long-Term: Going viral during the Super Bowl or the Oscars is great exposure, but capitalizing on that exposure is something that brands often don’t even attempt. Contests, quizzes and giveaways that stay on-message can leverage your sudden social celebrity to build a lasting fan base, a larger email list, or drive traffic to your website. Use real-time marketing not just as a way to gain exposure, but as an opportunity to move your social audience one step closer to being a loyal customer. Just like your Tumblr meme or viral Vine, make sure any follow up is clever, on-message and prompts sharing.



Kevin Bobowski

Vice President of Marketing , Offerpop

Kevin Bobowski is the VP of Marketing for Offerpop, a New York-based social marketing software company that powered the first use of a hashtag in a Super Bowl commercial in 2011, in the '#ProgressIs' campaign by auto manufacturer client Audi.  

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