How Real-Time Social Media Marketing Can Be the Ace Up Your Sleeve in 2016

Kirsty Price - 04/01/2016 - 5 mins read - Real Time Creative

If there’s one thing that is inevitable in the world of marketing, it's that at the start of a new year, a fresh batch of marketing buzzwords are thrown into the mix. One such buzzword is ‘‘real-time marketing’ and while it has been doing the rounds for a while now, 2016 is likely to be the year that it becomes truly essential on the grounds of growing consumer demand.

In our ‘always on, always connected’ world, customers expect brands to be relevant and reactive in real-time and on their terms when it comes to social media, in terms of both content and customer service. Real-time social media can no longer be an afterthought. In fact, it should always be top of mind for results-driven marketers.

While the perceived challenges of real-time social media marketing (such as a lack of resource, tools and strategy) can be quite the hurdle for brands to overcome initially, the benefits are too extensive to ignore. A recent study by Wayin revealed that ‘98 percent of marketers report a positive return on their real-time marketing investments.’ So how can your brand experience real results from real-time social media marketing? Here are four exciting opportunities you can take advantage of:

Opportunity 1: Newsjacking Content

Newsjacking is perhaps the easiest way to get involved with real-time social media marketing. With some simple social listening, you’ll uncover an infinite number of of daily opportunities for your brand to jump in on conversations that are already going on between your customers. The opportunities that could crop up could be anything from a trending hashtag on Twitter, to a local or global news event or even pop culture references. One particular opportunity that appealed to many brands last year was ‘The Dress’ optical illusion. The Salvation Army contributed a stand out newsjacking piece in response, as below:

Opportunity 2: Preemptive Content

Another easy way to get started with real-time social content is to plan a couple of preemptive content pieces that you can have on standby for ‘real-time’ use. This type of content is particularly useful for events where the date, time or outcome cannot be predicted, such as births, election results and sports games. Content can be produced and saved, only to be posted at the most opportune ‘real-time’ moment. For events such as sports games or elections, where the ‘result’ could be one of many options - you can produce content assets for every possibility, ready to push the correct one live in real-time. An example of this in action is Coca Cola’s witty response to the birth of Princess Charlotte. 

Opportunity 3: Customer Service Responses

At this point in time, consumers are beginning to expect as close to real-time customer service as possible on social media. Recent research has uncovered that 72% of customers expect brands to reply within an hour of contacting them. On the downside, real-time customer service can be quite resource intensive and requires out of hours service which of course comes at a premium. Despite this, the benefits are plentiful, since real-time reactivity to customer issues has the potential to stop ‘social media crises’ from escalating. It can also limit ‘bandwagoning’ around specific issues, as others can see that customer service is being provided and allows you to formulate a public response to quell further queries on the issue(s) at hand. A brand to model in providing excellent real-time service packed with punch and personality is Tesco, as shown below.

Opportunity 4: Live Streaming Content

Last month, Facebook announced that verified pages could use their new live streaming video tool: ‘Live’. With live streaming apps like Periscope also gaining popularity last year, as well as the rise of experiential marketing, it won’t be long until this type of content becomes ‘standard’ social content that consumers will come to expect. Some great applications for this include social question and answer sessions, broadcasting conference announcements, lives product demonstrations and behind the scenes exclusives. A great example of this feature in action is singer Michael Bublé’s first live chat (below) and it will be exciting to see how brands begin using this tool. 

My first live chat

Posted by Michael Bublé on Friday, 7 August 2015

All in all, there are some exciting opportunities out there for brands of all shapes and sizes to get involved with real-time social media: from dipping a toe in the water with one off newsjacking pieces, to hiring a full-blown 24/7 real-time customer service team. All you need to do to get started is to have a willingness to experiment, test and learn. Leave us a comment below and let us know your thoughts on where real-time social media is heading.

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