Real-time marketing was introduced in the 1990s, but its time hasn’t really come until now, with the advent of social media. Social platforms, with their 24/7 availability and many-to-many avenues of communication, provide great opportunities to build lasting relationships with customers.
The social stream is composed of real-time content, much of which we all know is neither high-quality nor particularly engaging. Thoughtful marketers can fill this quality gap with content that pleases audiences by being in the moment and, most importantly, being authentic. Here are five tips to help you educate and entertain with real-time content.
Five Tips for Creating Effective Real-Time Content
Match content to context.
Your content is only as credible as the channel that delivers it. If you want to reach young men, create content that works well on Tumblr. Use Pinterest for content about women and children. If your audience is baby boomers, Facebook is probably the way to go. And don’t forget email, which is still preferred by many boomers and makes a good supplement to real-time discussions on your brand’s Facebook page.
Leverage the power of multiple screens.
Increasingly, people engage with one another on social media while they are watching live events on television. For example, create a poll where people can vote on the best/worst hairstyle seen during the Emmy Awards. Tweet the link and provide periodic Twitter updates on poll results.
Use live sporting events.
These are excellent opportunities for engaging people in real time, on Facebook and Instagram as well as Twitter. (Photos of World Cup games on Instagram are obvious examples.) However, local sports may offer better chances for your brand to connect with customers because they don’t receive mega media attention. Live reports from the state high school football championship not only engage fans, but they provide an information service to those who couldn’t make it to the game.
Avoid the ‘tell and sell.’
Real-time content is all about engagement. It’s not advertising, so resist the temptation to tell everyone how great your product is and why they should buy now at the special introductory price. There’s no faster way to attract scorn and repel prospects.
Encourage many-to-many conversations.
One objective of your real-time content should be to get customers talking to each other, not just to you. This can be scary because it feels like you are losing control over how your brand is presented. In truth, the customer has always defined your brand; it just wasn’t as noticeable before social media. The advantage of the real-time environment is that you can address criticism promptly, correcting misinformation and resolving problems. And you can respond to compliments with thanks, and perhaps a perk or an inside bit of news. In the social media world, an authentic response is social currency that tends to build loyalty to your brand.
This is not to say that creating real-time content that engages customers doesn’t have pitfalls. It does, and that’s what I’ll be writing about in my next blog post.