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.
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
I’ll admit that I’m not a big football fan. I’m into many sports, but football has always seemed a little slow, and the action a little fragmented for my liking.
Despite this, every year I eagerly anticipate the Super Bowl.
Undeniably it’s filled with drama, and is nothing short of a sporting spectacle.
But the real reason I’ve historically been so interested in the Super Bowl really has nothing to do with the competition on the field, but more to do with the competition for consumers’ attention and wallets, the advertising. And I know I’m not alone on this front.
Every year, marketers have been shelling out increasingly ridiculous (or maybe not, depending on returns) sums of money to have the privilege of advertising to the TV audience of the big game. In fact this year, it has been reported that television media space sold for a whopping $4 million for a 30 second spot.
In recent years, however, the landscape of Super Bowl advertising has been changing.
It used to be that Super Bowl ads were kept secret to be revealed on the day of the game. This kept people guessing about who was going to do what to up the ante, and it was fun and exciting to see who was going to win the day.
This year, it seems as though every advertiser has pre-released their big Super Bowl spots. AdAge has already published comprehensive coverage of what many Super Bowl advertisers plans are on television.
Now the game to watch is on social media
While social media marketing isn’t exactly new, last year, Oreo changed the game of Super Bowl advertising with their famous power outage tweet, crafted by agency 360i.
Almost instantly that tweet opened the eyes of marketers about the power of contextually relevant, real-time marketing on social media. And unsurprisingly, this year, many more players will be participating in this game.
The real question for this year’s game then isn’t about whose going to have the most amazing television spot, but who is going to capitalize on what real-time opportunity to capture the attention of their social media audience.
But this is a little underwhelming, don’t you think?
While it’s really exciting to bear witness to this change, and be involved in the world of social media and content marketing during this time, I can’t help but feel a little underwhelmed by this.
I should be excited to see who is going to be doing what on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other social media channels, but I’m kind of lacking in the excitement department.
The problem is that we know what’s coming. Numerous marketers and advertisers looking for their unique opportunity, but a large part of the magic for Oreo and 360i was that they caught everyone off guard. The big question at the time was, ‘how the hell did they do that so quickly’, and even though the answer was relatively simple, it was something that virtually nobody was prepared for.
We should be finding ways to capitalize on opportunities in near real-time every day
Opportunities to delight an audience in real-time don’t necessarily need to be limited to big events like the Super Bowl.
What the Oreo tweet should have done is awoken us to this opportunity, and we all should have scrambled to find ways to manage this kind of magic on a daily basis be it by empowering small and nimble social media teams, through the creation of processes that account for the need to be fast and responsive, or some other method.
Despite my being underwhelmed at the thought of a huge number of marketers trying to recreate magic they bore witness to last year, I’m still looking forward to the creative output of those playing this game.
What I am going to be hoping for, however, is for at least one social media team to throw up a proverbial ‘hail Mary’ by doing something completely new, innovative and attention grabbing. The opportunity is there, it’s just a matter of who it’s going to be, whether it will occur this year or in the future, and what they’ll do.
How are you going to be following along with the Super Bowl on social media?
Do you think anyone is going to be able to create similar magic as Oreo did last year?
Also, following the Super Bowl, it would be awesome to know who you thought won the marketing and social media games by hearing about your favourite TV ads and moments on social media.
It would be great to chat with you more about this in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
There have been numerous examples in recent history of businesses and brands taking full advantage of timing and contextual relevance to amplify their message on social media.
Sony recently capitalized on Microsoft’s disastrous Xbox One announcement with a humourous video tutorial on how to share used games in the wake of Microsoft’s anti-used game policies (that they later rescinded).
Gillette recently created a content series entitled, ‘How does the Man of Steel Shave?’, to tie into the release of the film, Man of Steel.
And I suppose this is getting rather ‘old’ now, but Oreo famously won over fans and gained admiration within the marketing community with a timely tweet during the Super Bowl power outage.
Of course these are just a few examples of contextually relevant social media content that has performed staggeringly well, as there are many more examples of companies who are doing amazing things with real-time marketing.
The point I’d like to address is to do with the timing of contextual relevance, and what considerations you should take into account when trying to replicate even a fraction of the gargantuan success these brands have experienced for your business or brand.
Putting a firm rule in place to tell you how long your business has to capitalize on an opportunity to publish relevant content is near impossible. This said, there are a couple of guidelines that you can take into account to help you out. They follow:
Publish content when your audience is in the heat of related conversations
If your audience is having conversations on social media about a topic for which there is an opportunity to produce contextually relevant and timely content, the time to hit ‘publish’ is during the height of these conversations. You want to effectively inject your business or brand into the conversation, and give your audience something to rally behind, share, comment on, and support.
In Sony’s case, they nailed the timing. They published their video directly following their E3 press conference, which was when the web was abuzz with conversation about their differing position on used games from Microsoft. And it’s a good thing they didn’t sit on this idea, because a matter of a week or so later Microsoft reversed their policies, which would have meant a missed opportunity for Sony.
Predict when relevant conversations are going to be occurring, and find a role for your business or brand within those conversations
Contextually relevant content isn’t always a byproduct of being reactionary and cranking out a video, blog post, or photograph in record-breaking time. There are many opportunities that can be identified well in advance, and can be worked toward over a period of time. Try to work ahead on your business’ social media content so that you have time to identify cultural occurrences, events, launches, releases, and milestones that you know your audience will have interest in, and plan to have an interesting perspective to share through the content you create.
Gillette did this fantastically with their, ‘How does the Man of Steel Shave?’, video series. The release of this new Superman movie has been known for over a year and it wouldn’t have been difficult to predict that there would be more than just a few guys who would be eager to see it. This would have given Gillette ample time to find high-profile individuals to weigh in on this entertaining conversation topic, shoot videos, build a micro-site, build a content promotion plan, and finalize any other preparations.
Be prepared to identify, produce, approve and publish content in as near real-time as possible
Whether an opportunity needs to be acted upon in a moment’s notice, or you have 18 months to create content, you need to be prepared and organized to fully realize the potential of your social media and content marketing. Real-time marketing in particular is deserving of having a pre-established team, process, parameters, and support network in place to make things go as smoothly and as quickly as possible. In short, you should have a real-time social media marketing process in place to ensure you don’t miss the next big opportunity that could just be around the corner.
Being prepared can be the difference between an Oreo-like success during the Super Bowl, or being one of the other guys who were just a little late to the conversation.
When the power went out during the Super Bowl, Oreo and their social media marketing agency were literally sitting in a room together watching the big game. When the power went out they had everyone required to conceive an idea, realize it, approve it, and publish the final content. It’s all so easy when you’re properly prepared.
Not everything needs to be created and published in real-time to be contextually relevant
I’m sure you’ve read ad nauseam about the importance of evergreen content. It isn’t a requirement that all of your content be intrinsically connected to a recent happening, opportunistic occurrence, or timely event. There is huge opportunity to create content that is relevant because it has huge shelf-life, and is relevant to longer-term trends, shifts in behaviour, enduring technology, or any other business or consumer-related insight. This is the content that you could publish now, or a month from now, and it will have similar value to your audience.
How do you capitalize on real-time marketing opportunities?
Do you factor contextual relevance into the content you create?
If you have anything you’d like to discuss or add to this, it would be fantastic to do so either in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
For those who haven’t followed along, here’s a quick summary of events:
- Microsoft announced their new gaming console by not spending much time showcasing gaming functionality leaving many people confused about what the Xbox One really is
- They revealed several controversial policies to do with connectivity and used games that were met with much chagrin
- Those policies were reversed within the span of roughly one week
From a social media standpoint, Microsoft has been lambasted for the direction they’ve taken the Xbox One, and many decisions they’ve made regarding the aforementioned policies.
What hurts most is that so many of these blunders could have been easily avoided.
Lucky for us, Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement serves as a great case study in social media, business, customer loyalty, and value provision.
Social listening can really pay off.
In my experience anyway, social listening is one of the most under-appreciated benefits of social media for businesses, but can be hugely helpful. As the Xbox One announcement was drawing near, the social web was abuzz with rumours about Microsoft imposing policies regarding the limitation of used game dissemination and a requirement for constant connectivity. Almost unanimously, sentiment about these policies seemed negative.
SO WHAT? If you are paying attention to relevant conversations on the social web and your consumers or target demographic has taken a strong stance on something to do with your business, you are flat out being foolish to not address this in one way or another. Pay attention to what people are saying about your business or brand on social media, and act on it.
Make decisions based on what will add value you consumers, not yourself.
I feel like a broken record about this point, but it is critical that your decisions, be they for the production of social media content, or more generally for your business, add incredible value to your consumers. Microsoft clearly lost focus on the importance of this when making some of their recent policy decisions, and has had to eat crow as a result.
SO WHAT? As a business, you are nothing without your consumers. If you ever find yourself making decisions for your business based on what is good for you, and not for your consumers, it will be a good idea to re-think your approach. After all, your consumers will always have the final say with where they choose to spend their money, so make sure it’s with your business by putting them first.
Trust is slowly earned, but quickly destroyed.
A reputation and trust can take a lifetime to earn, but can be destroyed overnight. With one announcement, Microsoft has made skeptics out of a huge portion of their consumer base.
SO WHAT? Trust is very important to your business. Without it, you’ll negate your ability to build loyalty and advocacy among your consumers, and formerly loyal consumers will take to social media to express their disappointment, ultimately propagating the issue. Nurture consumer trust by consistently listening to them, providing huge value, and giving them the ability to influence your business.
Real-time marketing can yield amazing results, so be ready to capitalize on opportunities.
Sony’s PlayStation 4 is arguably Microsoft’s main competitor in the console video gaming category. Almost immediately following Microsoft’s announcement of their contentious policies, Sony released what turned out to be a hugely successful video demonstrating their used games and game sharing policy. This video currently has just shy of 13 million views on YouTube and would have cost virtually nothing to produce. It’s truly a testament to the power of real-time marketing and capitalizing on time-based context and relevance to an audience.
SO WHAT? On social media it pays off to be contextually opportunistic. Be prepared to practice real-time marketing by creating a nimble team that is able to act at a moments notice, organize an expedited approval process, open internal lines of communication with key decision makers, and gain the support of senior leadership. All of these things are critical to being able to act quickly.
What do you think about the announcement and promotion thus far of the Xbox One?
Do you think they made a good decision to do a 180 on their contentious policies?
How do you think Microsoft’s woes could have been avoided?
It would be great to chat with you about this further in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Real-time social media marketing can be incredibly powerful as it adds elements of context and relevance to your social media content and audience interactions.
The challenge for many organizations is that existing processes can stand in the way of engaging and interacting with audiences in a timely manner. Process by its nature takes time, and virtually strips organizations of being able to act in real-time.
Opportunity identification, legal reviews, running approvals up the ladder, creative ideation, risk assessment, production, organizing and rallying a team to create content are a few of the factors that can grind execution of the best intentions to a halt.
All of these components are important, but to capitalize on real-time opportunities on social media, certain planning and preparation will need to be in place. Also, in some cases, concessions or modifications might need to be made to your organization’s regular processes.
Following are a few suggestions and ideas for how you can prepare your organization to be equipped engage in real-time on social media:
Pre-establish roles and responsibilities
Pre-establishing roles and responsibilities will keep your team organized, focused, and ready to act. When an opportunity is identified you’ll be happy to have your team chosen and roles established so you can get straight to producing something amazing instead of figuring out who’s going to be doing what.
Set guardrails as a team
Consider working with all reviewers and decision makers on a set of guidelines to abide by for any real-time social media marketing efforts. Chances are that there is a fairly well defined set of dos and don’ts that can be applied across the board, regardless of context. If these are set from the get-go, you might be able to reduce, or even eliminate, review timelines down the road.
Organize an expedited process where possible
Getting all decision makers, reviewers, and legal advisers on board with expediting their respective processes to pass a piece of content is of utmost importance. If there are parts of your existing process that just can’t be changed, ensure that everyone involved understands just how critical timing is for real-time marketing to be effective, and perhaps they’ll be able to help with determining how to expedite their contribution to the process.
Create and publish now, apologize later
The fastest way to work through process is simply to eliminate it. Depending on your organization’s tolerance for risk, you may find that the best approach to real-time social media marketing process is to virtually ignore the bottlenecks, publish your content without all previously necessary reviews and approvals, and should anything go awry, work to solve that problem later. Hopefully if you have done due diligence to establish guardrails, you can avoid any issues.
Open your lines of communication
One of the main points of real-time social media marketing is to open the lines of communication between your business and your consumers to carry on a dialogue or conversation in near real-time. To facilitate this, your internal lines of communication will also need to be opened and streamlined. Save yourself precious time by finding opportunities to cut through hierarchy, politics, and any other circumstances that tend to slow or cloud internal communications.
Gain the support of senior leadership
Having someone in a senior leadership position as a strong supporter of your team and efforts will greatly ease your ability to act swiftly and minimize roadblocks. If you are not in a senior leadership position yourself, and need to gain the support of someone who is, try to recruit him or her by demonstrating the value of real-time marketing, and by showing them how it can be executed without spiraling out of control.
In order for real-time social media marketing to be practiced effectively, processes need to be adjusted, and in some cases, recreated. Every business will have unique needs for process, so you’ll need to determine what works best for your organization and adjust accordingly.
What processes does your organization have in place to facilitate real-time social media marketing?
How do you work through process in a timely fashion to allow for real-time social media marketing efforts?
It would be great to chat with you about this more in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial