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A Real-Time Marketing Wake-Up Call

Real-time Marketing

Remember the early days of YouTube and the first viral videos you saw on the platform? Do you remember how amazing you thought that was? That anyone could create a video, upload it to YouTube, and have it be viewed millions of times?

Do you remember thinking things like that?

I’m sure you do.

I do.

You know what I did after being amazed at the power of YouTube and viral videos? I recommended to a Client that we upload a video, so it too could achieve stratospheric levels of success online.

But that didn’t happen.

Sure, we uploaded what we thought was going to be a great video on YouTube, but man did it tank. I don’t remember how many views it received, but it sure didn’t classify as ‘viral’. I don’t even think you could classify it as being a blip, or hiccup.

It tanked because creating a viral video (I dislike many use cases of that term by the way… people don’t create viral videos, they create videos that go viral – I digress) isn’t that simple. For most of us, and the businesses and brands that we work for or with, creating content that goes viral requires an amazing idea, top-tier execution, serious investment, an awesome content promotion and distribution plan, remarkable luck, or some combination of the aforementioned factors.

I’m recounting the early days of being amazed by viral videos because I feel that in a sense history is repeating itself, this time with real-time marketing.

Last year, Oreo crafted an amazing tweet in real-time in response to a high-profile happening at a high-profile sporting event. You know the one I’m talking about.

It caught us all off guard. Real-time marketing wasn’t new, but we didn’t have such an amazing singular example of what real-time marketing was capable of, and the attention it could garner.

That tweet went on to earn major attention for the brand, win huge awards for the agency responsible, and inspired numerous agencies to try to replicate some of that success for their Clients this year.

But this year there was no ‘Oreo – You can still dunk in the dark’ tweet.

Oreo nailed it last year, and while it wasn’t hard to decipher the formula for why it was such an amazing success, many businesses, brands and agencies ignored that it represented a magical moment when all of the right pieces fell into place.

This isn’t to take anything away from the tweet, or the smarts, strategy and planning that made it possible, but you just can’t replicate that kind of magic, which is probably why Oreo and their agency 360i kept quiet this year. They were smart enough to understand the amazing circumstances surrounding their own success.

But all of this isn’t to say that the pinnacle of real-time marketing was reached last year, or that it’s a waste of time to pursue marketing efforts in real-time; quite the contrary.

Real-time marketing is here, and it has been here, to stay. There is huge opportunity for businesses and brands to interact with their audiences in real-time.

Businesses and brands, however, shouldn’t one day per year get a ‘real-time war room’ together and hope for some serendipitous opportunity to present itself, or worse, shoehorn their message into a less than memorable moment.

What we need to be doing is build strategies that are inclusive of real-time tactics. Long-term approaches and processes are needed to allow businesses and brands to seize opportunities when they arise, find ways to provide value in real-time, and generally be more organized on an ongoing basis for real-time marketing activity.

Similar to how I’m sure many of us published our first video to YouTube thinking it was going to be the next viral sensation, and later realized that there is much more to it than that, we need to take a step back and think smarter about real-time marketing on social media, and stop stepping up to the plate once per year for one big swing.


Do you have real-time marketing built into your social media strategy?

How do you provide value to your audience in real-time?

What do you think the future of real-time marketing has in store?

It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial

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