Times are changing, technology is improving, and marketers need to keep up with the latest trends. Real-time marketing is the best example of how technology has improved the way people promote and sell their products and services.

Social media platforms used to be a real goldmine for marketers. Now, users are getting tired of reading the same ads every day, so they just keep scrolling. Some might say that marketing is broken. We don’t think that’s true; marketing is not broken, but it has definitely changed from what it used to be.

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In this article, we are going to show you:

  • What real-time marketing is
  • How to use it
  • Examples of real-time marketing campaigns

What is real-time marketing?

Real-time marketing means linking your brand to a recent event that had or still has an impact on your target audience. The goal is to increase engagement and have your customers appreciate the fact that you’re up to date with the latest news.

In his book, “Real-Time Marketing and PR: How to Instantly Engage Your Market, Connect with Customers, and Create Products that Grow Your Business Now”, David Meerman Scott mentioned that “real-time” means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means “companies develop (or refine) products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace.”

But real-time marketing is not limited to external events. Brands are using this technique to admit their mistakes or issues with their product or service by creating a funny or meaningful response. This way, they avoid an image crisis and regain the trust of their customers.

Real-time marketing can also be used to tailor answers for each individual. Say you posted on Twitter that you wanted to learn more about Romania. A travel agency could use the opportunity to answer you with a personalized offer.

How do you use it?

First off, real-time marketing, like any other marketing strategy, can be planned. Important events are usually on the radar weeks before they happen. This means you should plan your campaigns ahead.

Include real-time marketing in your monthly communication plan, but don’t overthink it. For instance, if there’s an important event coming up (like an award ceremony) and you think that it could have an impact on your audience (and your brand), start by creating some drafts. Once the event occurs, you can modify the drafts in order to cover every detail.

However, sometimes things do actually happen overnight and you have to prepare your response ASAP. You don’t want to wait too long after the event! Posting your response two weeks after the event probably means it will not have the same impact (if any).

When it comes to the message, it’s important to maintain your tone of voice. Otherwise, you will come across as unauthentic and that will reflect badly on your brand image.

Brands who got it right: 5 real-time marketing examples

1. NASA swept us off our feet!

NASA knows a thing or two about marketing, and they were one of the first and best brands who have used real-marketing techniques during the Oscar Award Ceremony in 2014. A lot of brands posted about the Oscars, but NASA decided to post about something they actually know best: gravity.

Since the movie Gravity won a few awards that night, NASA decided to congratulate the team, as well as link the event to their mission. Instead of stopping at one post, they made a mini-series with Space and Planets in relation to the Oscar Ceremony.

2. IKEA – The Royal Wedding did not take Harry away

The Royal Wedding between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle took place on May 19, 2018. The entire wedding was live streamed and kept their viewers with tears in their eyes. Knowing that Prince Harry was one of the most desired bachelors in the world, IKEA wanted to remind their customers that their Harry is still available in their shop.

While it wasn’t the real deal, the HARRY chair put a smile on the teary-eyed faces of the women who were still hoping to marry the real Prince. In their post, IKEA wrote “Don’t worry, HARRY is still available.” They also posted a photo of the chair so there won’t be any confusions.

Another IKEA ad that also related to the Royal Wedding used their food container Pruta, mentioned as the perfect fit for the leftover cake from 600 guests.

3. Netflix and chill with whoever you want

Politics are another area where events tend to reach viral status on social media. This is why real-time marketing fits right in when a political event takes place. In October 2018, Romanian politicians organized a referendum to define the union between two spouses by marriage between a man and a woman exclusively.

Netflix was one of the companies that took advantage of this opportunity. Their post stated “Do it with whoever you want – Binging”, thus managing to include what their audience does on their platform (binge-watching) as well as their position on this matter.

However, when you represent a small brand, you need to be very careful with bold statements. Controversial ads can have a boomerang effect and potentially ruin the public image of the company and alienate most of its users.

4. ASOS – Own your mistakes

Real-time marketing doesn’t only revolve around events, the political scene, or Royal Weddings. Fashion retailer ASOS proved that even big brands can make mistakes. When handled well, these can turn into a goldmine.

In March 2018, ASOS printed 17,000 bags that had a typo on the front. Instead of overlooking the problem or replacing the bags at a further cost, they owned up to their mistake in a funny and witty post.

They shared a photo of their “faulty” bag and they named the whole batch a limited edition, receiving praise for originality and honesty.

5. Keep your enemy (or competition) closer

Another great example of real-time marketing comes from two rivals that came together for a special occasion. McDonald’s and KFC are well-known “enemies”. However, on December 1st, 2018 (Romania’s National Day) they launched a marketing campaign together.

KFC posted a photo with their famous chicken bucket and two portions of fries from McDonald’s, while McDonald’s posted a photo of their fries and the famous garlic sauce from KFC. Both brands mentioned that this day is a day where all should be united.

Real-time marketing is not only about linking your brand to an important event, showing your position in a political dispute or owning up to your your mistakes. This marketing strategy is a new way to create a bond with your customers by making them relate to your brand voice.

There are many other ways you can use real-time marketing, especially as a smaller brand:

  • Reacting to comments on social media, even if they are negative
  • Showing that you took into account your customers’ feedback
  • Offering a personalized product to a loyal customer
  • Communicating in real-time, every day, every hour

We hope these examples help you get an idea of how you can implement this strategy in your communication campaigns. Now that you’ve seen how it’s done, it’s time to start planning your real-time marketing posts for your brand!