We live in a digital world where we've grown accustomed to real-time communication with one another, including with the brands we patronize. Now there is a growing expectation of real-time response from companies large and small. It's time to become more nimble and proactive -- communicating at the same pace as your customers.
Thankfully real time doesn't necessarily mean instantaneous, but it does mean quick enough to be relevant. Consider Oreo's response to the blackout during this year's Super Bowl. Shortly after the Superdome fell dark, the Oreo brand tweeted "You can still dunk in the dark," which was retweeted ten thousand times in a mere hour.
For real-time marketing strategies to be effective, establish a framework within which your social media managers have the freedom to operate. Consider the types of content appropriate to deploy, establish guidelines accordingly, and then ensure your administrators are empowered to make real-time decisions "off book." The Oreo example went viral because the message was deployed within a few minutes of the blackout.
While it may sound counterintuitive, successful real-time marketing requires significant advanced planning. If you simply shoot from the hip, you'll likely see greatly diminished results.
If you run an area restaurant, part of your real-time marketing planning is determining for which day-parts you're going to focus your efforts. If lunch presents an opportunity for growth, then you may focus your real-time marketing efforts on 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. each day -- watching popular social media platforms for users talking about their lunch plans online. If they're inquiring about where to eat or commenting about their intent to visit a competing restaurant, message them real time with an invitation to visit your restaurant with special VIP treatment (e.g., dining at the Chef's table, or a new dessert for which you're seeking their feedback).
It's naturally more efficient to market where prospective buyers already are, versus trying to drive them elsewhere to see your message. Similarly, in the social media arena, it's easier to engage consumers about topics which are already top of mind such as holidays, the Oscars, or the Final Four.
A perfect example of this was Universal Music's email campaign deployed right after the Olympics, highlighting music used in the closing ceremonies available for digital download. This strategy, called "Newsjacking" by some, only works if your audience is interested in the event you're aligning your brand with and if you can find an authentic way to connect it to your business without seeming desperate.
The formula for a successful real-time marketing strategy is simple: establish guidelines, empower your team, and determine where and when you're likely to generate the greatest response for your time investment.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover Sales & Marketing in Memphis, TN, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).