Four years ago, while walking with a spring in my step after an incredibly informative conference day at AdTech, I stopped at Banana Republic. At that very moment, my phone rang… I was thrilled to see a familiar name behind the ring and then it hit me like a baseball bat – shopping at Banana Republic was no longer going to be a part of my individual freedom. I was about to be swallowed by their future advertising. Suddenly I felt less free and, to be honest, a little paranoid.
The phone I was carrying allowed me to stay in touch with my family and business in a moment’s notice. It gave me directions to just about anywhere in the world and if I had the right model, allowed me to spend ample time shopping on the internet.
What I had just learned was this device was going to be a big part of my future marketing campaigns. Yes, if I was at Starbucks Coffee they would send me a text when I walked in the door offering me a discount on my favorite latte. When I visited Banana Republic I would receive a message letting me know the style of shirt I purchased last spring was available in new spring colors and in “my” size.
My senses were overloaded as I struggled to grasp this next phase in social media, and I immediately wanted to know how I could implement these tools into future programming. Four years forward and we now reference the quickly developing tactic as Real-Time Marketing.
I’d like to share a story of a few examples of this trending tactic in the world of social marketing. As you read the examples, I encourage you to read between the lines. Are any of these tactics one you can incorporate into your programming? Would it behoove you to re-adjust your strategy by doing so? Do you have an upcoming event that would allow you to test a real-time marketing strategy? How are you measuring your current social media efforts?
This is a guest contribution by Rebecca Lieb, an analyst at Altimeter Group who covers digital advertising and media, an area that encompasses brands, publishers, agencies, and technology vendors. You can follow her on Twitter @lieblink.
How Real Companies Are Leveraging the Power of Real-Time Marketing
That’s all well and good, but in the real world, how are marketers working in real time? There are lots of examples from brands you probably recognize, and most break into one of two buckets: event driven, and customer driven. The former category is what this post will focus on. Event driven real-time marketing embraces public events — think a major sporting event, the Oscars, or Fashion Week. Brand events like trade shows or product launches fall into this category, too. You can even count breaking news in this bucket. Let’s review seven examples of real brands going real-time with their marketing to spark your creativity.
Pepsi During Fashion Week 2011
Pepsi launched their Diet Pepsi skinny during Fashion Week 2011. Rather than advertise, the product was integrated into the event. Pepsi hired a journalist with full press credentials to the event. When she published, Pepsi amplified the content on social channels and also used Twitter and Foursquare to flag notable events. Brand positioning: “get the skinny” on fashion and pop culture.
Pizza Hut & Foursquare Team Up During the Super Bowl
People who checked in to the game unlocked a ‘Super Swarm Sunday’ badge with an offer: “spend $10, get $5 off” at Pizza Hut when paying with American Express. As of 6:20pm EST, 175,365 people had checked in (the number was growing by 1,000 per minute). By the time the badge expired, 303,445 people had checked in.
Oxygen Network Pilots OxygenLive
With over 2 million viewers per episode, “Bad Girls Club” is the Oxygen Network’s top show. Early in its fourth season, the network piloted “OxygenLive” on the East Coast. The show, a “social viewing party” with talent from the show, pulled comments and conversations from social networks into a hub. Ratings for adults 18-49 were up 92% from the previous season in the East, while in the West, where “OxygenLive” didn’t air, ratings rose a mere 14%.
Walgreens’ SoLoMo Foursquare Program
Customer driven real-time marketing tends to be customer service focused. In fact, new research from The Social Habit finds consumers reaching out to companies on social channels expect a response within 60 minutes. That’s why it’s freat that Walgreens’ SoLoMo (social, local, mobile) Foursquare program reaches in-store shoppers. Consumers who check in at a Walgreens location on Foursquare instantly receive a coupon for a special offer. Even more innovative: the coupon can be scanned directly from the phone.
Pretzel Crisps’ “Social Sampling” Program
This real-time program monitors Twitter conversations to identify customers who are “in need of a snack.” @PretzelCrisps offers to deliver a free product sample, often with a follow-up that encourages recipients to share feedback and start conversations about the brand. Pretzel Crisps has garnered over 4.2 million earned media impressions since the launch of the program in July 2010, has delivered some 3,600 free samples to consumers, and the company has seen sales increase up to 87 percent over the previous year.
@ChicagoCabbie Generates Repeat Business With Real-Time
The man managing #ChicagoCabbie proves you don’t have to be a big brand to get a big bang out of real-time marketing. The Twitter handle belongs to cabbie Rashid Temuri, who gets 90-95% of his repeat business through social media channels, primarily Twitter. Customers can follow him and check his location on Google Latitude or Find My Friends. When they need a cab, they know if he’s nearby and can tweet for a ride. Bonus: free WiFi in his cab!
EuroControl Oversees European Air Safety
During the Icelandic volcanic eruption in 2010 that grounded all flights in the region, their homepage featured updated maps of the volcanic ash movement, explaining the implications. They updated their Facebook page, Twitter account, and relevant LinkedIn groups with useful information for travelers. They consistently used Twitter hashtags #euva and #ashtag to inform customers. After introducing the hashtags, customers themselves started sharing stories and tips with them.
Getting Real About Implementing Real-Time Marketing
Larger organizations dedicate significant resources to real-time marketing. Applebee’s has 7,000 employees in 1,000 locations handling real-time at a local and community level. Dell and Gatorade have vast listening centers equipped with sophisticated listening technology to measure brand sentiment. But all real-time strategies, large or small, begin with listening and learning — long before talking or doing. Measuring conversations and sentiment is the first step in determining how real-time programs will develop. You can start with free monitoring tools, or invest in one of the many paid social media monitoring technologies.
The highest cost of real-time marketing can be the team that makes it happen. After all, always-on means 24/7 staffing. Arm teams with the necessary tools, and train them to respond in accordance with social media policies and in the brand’s voice. Most importantly, empower them to work in an agile environment, free of the chain-of-approval strictures that are completely antithetical to real-time marketing.
My head is spinning and I’m excited about the future of our industry. It continues to unravel on a daily basis and I can’t help but think about ways to implement these strategies. As I prepare to head out for a meeting in my car, which is very low on gas, I’m curious – is my car directing me to the nearest gas station? Or, is it sending me to the nearest gas station paying the car manufacturer to direct me?
It’s definitely getting real…