Brands are racing to adapt to social media’s new shift in terrain. It’s not enough to react the next day to breaking news and trends. The savviest brands will pounce on opportunity minutes after a momentous event rockets across the world — from Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl power outage, to Pepsi jumping up to the Harlem Shake — timing is of the essence.
To look for inspiration, brands should turn to two industries: news media and financial markets.
In journalism, reporters act quickly when a press release crosses their desks; they don’t wait until they have a newsroom meeting to move. Instead, they rush to their editors with story in hand, saying they need to investigate further and, preferably, push something out on Twitter or Facebook. News is about speed and accuracy, a lesson valuable to any global company. Speed, accuracy, and creativity.
Financial markets also hold valuable lessons for real-time marketing. Traders constantly study monitor and analyze market data that may affect a stock’s price. When it comes to social media’s real-time impact on a brand, the comparison to publicly traded stocks becomes clear. And to drive the analogy further, the best brands will look for ways to keep the gains made and not simply be satisfied by a transient, viral moment.
It doesn’t mean brands need to jump on every breaking news or trending-topic opportunity. Outlining an editorial mandate and calendar is always advisable in order to figure out what topics are best suited for social media outreach. Tackling every trend would be overwhelming and exhausting, and customers would soon realize a brand is simply leaping on the bandwagon every week.
The challenge, though, is ensuring everyone on the creative and social media team is on the same page. Not very different from any planning decision; staking out real-time marketing campaigns requires everyone working in concert. It might be frustrating, as responding to breaking news means you have to act fast — a mode some marketers and brands aren’t accustomed to at first. But by instilling a culture of smart creative and quick thinking, a brand can soar past its competition with a 24/7 control room akin to a news hub.
There’s a looming challenge, though, for many creative agencies: If brands are going to double-down on trending moments to capture an audience’s attention, what kind of infrastructure does a creative agency need to build, and what processes must be in place to secure client approvals before the hot moment passes? When brands adapt to the new terrain of always-on media, they become publishers whose content is praised for snagging today’s zeitgeist.
And the brands that ignore real-time marketing will simply be seen as today’s newspaper – delivering today’s news tomorrow.
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