Tuesday, January 27th, 2015 | 13 min read
What would a huge win look like for your marketing team?
It would probably involve a campaign that boosts your metrics for the month and gets you accolades from your co-workers and the media. The kind that helps you one-up the competition, be hyper-relevant to your fans, engage a massive audience and get the social space buzzing about your brand.
A successful real-time marketing ploy can do all of these things, which is why it’s the current holy grail for marketers.
It’s also incredibly hard to pull off.
Real-time marketing is about thinking quick and coming up with the perfect reaction to events in the moment, but you can set yourself up for success if you plan carefully and follow best practices for creating great real-time content.
In order to help you prep for the upcoming Super Bowl we’ve created a step-by-step guide on how to do successful real-time marketing for events. Let’s start with the steps your brand should take to set itself up for success on the big day.
Sprinklr Global Evangelist Ekaterina Walter gave this definition of real-time marketing in her presentation that had INBOUND conference attendees buzzing.
It’s easy to feel like you should execute a real-time marketing campaign because it’s what all the cool kids are doing. Brands like Oreo, Arby’s and Smart Car have had super-successful real-time marketing coups that garnered heaps of praise, so you want a piece of the pie, too.
But before you dive into real-time marketing make sure you determine exactly why it’s a good fit for your organization. Being able to communicate this will help you get buy-in from other departments (cross-departmental collaboration is essential to successful real-time marketing), and it will motivate your team.
You’re not setting specific goals (yet); this first stage is all about high-level brainstorming.
Now that you’ve got your high-level strategy planning out of the way it’s time to establish specific goals for your campaign. Real-time marketing is by nature unpredictable, but as with any marketing campaign it’s essential to define what success looks like for your organization.
Do you want Twitter follower growth? How much? Do you want a big boost in Instagram engagement? Lots of press? An increase in purchase intent? Or maybe your goal is to start a conversation about your brand related to a theme that hasn’t traditionally been linked to your organization.
Make sure these goals align with your existing business objectives – this will also help you get buy-in from senior execs and other departments.
Successful real-time marketing for events hinges on being completely tuned into the conversations happening on social media so that you can jump in at just the right time.
An important part of planning for your campaign is ensuring you have a listening strategy in place. Make a master list of key topics you want to pay attention to – including hashtags, phrases and important accounts (like your competition, partners and influencers) – and enter them into your social media management infrastructure so that you can easily track them.
Social media conversations are constantly shifting focus and new hashtags can start trending in a matter of minutes, so keep your eye out for any new terms, hashtags or influencers that you should add to your listening dashboard leading up to and during the big event.
One of the biggest challenges large organizations face with real-time marketing is bypassing the typically lengthy process required to get content approved.
Often multiple stakeholders need to weigh in on a piece of content before it’s published, yet to really win with real-time marketing your brand needs to be able to publish content within minutes of a key event.
Sprinklr Global Evangelist Ekaterina Walter suggests fostering a culture of urgency within your organization by building systems that allow you to act quickly.
Start by identifying key stakeholders and ensure they’re all in the same room on the big day (or at least 100% available to pick up the phone). Having decision makers on-hand to provide feedback and issue approvals enables you to react quickly. This might mean you have community managers, the CMO, designers, brand strategists, legal, copywriters and customer service all in one place.
An alternative to having everyone physically present (which we all know is not always possible) is to ensure all key decision makers have access to your social media management infrastructure via mobile application. Then enable mobile notifications so they can quickly and easily provide feedback and sign-off during the big game.
Lastly, establish workflows in your social media management infrastructure that allow inbound and outbound messages to be automatically routed to specific teams that can take action immediately.
To be able to act quickly (without regretting it later) you also need to clearly define what you can and can’t do from a legal standpoint. Go over general boundaries with your legal team and create pre-approved list of do’s and don’ts for your real-time content.
Additionally, for major events like the World Cup or the Super Bowl, it’s critical to understand the restrictions around brands that are not sponsors. For example, brands who are not official sponsors of the Super Bowl aren’t allowed to say “Super Bowl” in their social content, so they often use terms like “the big game”.
While the payoff is often worth it, engaging in real-time marketing exposes your organization to increased risk and potential social media crises.
So come prepared. If you’ve followed the steps we’ve outlined up until now, your brand should be poised to handle hiccups or an unexpected turn of events.
Brands that are nimble and creative can temper situations that might have otherwise been disastrous and even put them back on track to be a huge success. Take JCPenney, whose “tweeting with mittens” campaign had many declaring the brand the unofficial winner of the Super Bowl.
The department store sent out two typo-ridden tweets during the beginning of the big game. The tweets went viral quickly, with the social web assuming that JCPenney’s community manager was either drunk (and about to be fired) or pretending to be drunk.
JCPenney hadn’t anticipated this reaction – the original plan was to publish a stream of clumsy tweets throughout the Super Bowl and then reveal the #tweetingwithmittens hashtag at the end. But when they realized that the campaign had taken on a life of its own, they decided to reveal the hashtag in the third tweet.
This quick change in plans resulted in a huge viral success for the brand – their audience (and the media) loved it.
You’ve gone through our checklist and are ready for the big event. While there are no guarantees in real-time marketing, here are some tips that will help you create real-time content that is poised for success.
During the past couple of Super Bowls we saw a lot of brand-on-brand banter, with big names taking jabs at one another. This is acceptable behavior – as long as brands keep it positive and light-hearted.
A great example is the 2012 exchange between Oreo and AMC that began when Oreo asked its followers if they ever sneak their cookies into movie theaters. AMC was quick to retort “NOT COOL, COOKIE”, which sparked nearly 2k retweets and more fun banter between the brands.
Real-time marketing isn’t about publishing a great piece of content and then sitting back and watching it take off. Ongoing community management often plays a big role in successful real-time campaigns.
Be fully present in conversations taking place around your campaign in order to keep the dialogue going, like Castrol was during Super Bowl XLVIII. The brand, along with its partner agencies, developed a campaign to increase buzz, awareness and engagement for Castrol EDGE.
The prize: 10 pairs of tickets to the big game. The plan: A selfie scavenger hunt.
Clues to iconic locations in the tri-state area were revealed each morning on Fox 5’s Good Day New York and Castrol’s social channels. The brand also enhanced participants’ experience in the contest with Castrol EDGE brand ambassadors who engaged fans directly at that day’s locations to explain the contest and encourage participation.
The in-person interaction with participants on behalf of the brand coupled with Castrol’s constant social media monitoring and engagement was a recipe for success. The brand received more than 5,000 sweepstakes entries, 370 million impressions, 200,000 social interactions, and 6,500 new fans across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
This one should be easy if you completed step #1 of the planning phase. It’s important to make sure that your real-time marketing content is on-brand and aligns with your overall social media strategy.
One of the reasons Oreo’s “dunk in the dark” Facebook post worked so well is that people immediately knew who it came from – it was perfectly in-tune with the brand’s visual identity on social.
Oreo’s post is also a great example of how to think outside the box and create relevant content even if your brand isn’t directly related to the event.
Another one comes from Dunkin’ Donuts. The company re-created a marquee play from the first half of each Monday Night Football game on Vine with Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups as a fun way to join the Monday Night Football conversation and add value to the TV-viewing experience. And because they had done their homework and thought a lot about how to link their brand to Monday Night Football in a genuine way, nothing about their campaign felt forced.
In many ways a real-time marketing coup during a live event is like catching lightning in a bottle. But you’ll be much more likely to create a magical moment for your brand if you lay a strong foundation and understand best practices for content published on the fly. In the end, it all comes down to a combination of the right tone, spot-on brand personality and hyper-relevancy at just the right moment.
Author: This post was co-written by Jessica Gioglio, Paul Haskell and Heather Read. Jessica is the head of Sprinklr’s Creative Lab and co-author of The Power of Visual Storytelling. Paul is a Senior Success Manager at Sprinklr who helped orchestrate Omaha Steak’s NFL Playoffs real-time marketing win. Heather is the Director of Sprinklr’s Social As A Service and previously lead social media at DuPont.