Creating a Real-Time Marketing Approach

by · August 29, 20130 comments

Agile marketing is one of the many buzzwords du jour. As social media and mobile take a larger piece of the consumer mindshare, it is important to take a real time approach to marketing. Developing tools, practices and models that support an agile marketing structure is a huge change for most. It is scary; much like social media was a few years’ back.  Being agile entails developing a careful, thoughtful plan, which as marketers, we are really good at. Once we have a plan, we need to make sure everyone knows what kinds of content to create, as well as when and how to react and then (scary part!) trusting your team to execute on it.

The Power of Now

So much is made of Oreo’s ability to deliver content that is branded, and most importantly for this post, timely. The Super Bowl power outage is often cited as agile marketing at its best. There are a few brands that are building tools and models to master this new, real-time marketing category. Nike is another brand that has joined Oreo in the real-time arena.


Like Oreo, Nike has a large fan base and enviable engagement. Oreo and Nike are consistently posting content that is relevant to not just now, but right now. Both brands have created a clear framework for what to post in real time. When something happens in the world that the social sphere is talking about, these brands activate their creative team to develop real-time posts that are uniquely, yet consistently branded, with a strong rallying cry for their audiences to join in the conversation. These talented creative teams know the Nike and Oreo brands to the letter and are trusted to create and distribute messaging in the moment. When this happens…engagement-polooza!

Take for example LeBron’s second NBA Championship. Nike created content that celebrated the star and they did it in such an engaging way. They invited people to call and leave LeBron a voicemail. They accompanied this with an audio message of different luminaries leaving LeBron a voicemail. The engagement on this post was solid, and in the moment enough. However, look at the post immediately following the Heat’s win, the image of LeBron with the caption “Witness History” was shared 5,800+ times and garnered 90,000+ likes. It captured the very moment the community was in a frenzy.


How to get real-time

The key to getting into the real-time game is threefold. One, have clear brand guidelines. Like insanely clear. For example, nearly all Oreo posts look the same. White background, large hero image, simple message and an Oreo watermark at the bottom. Similarly, Nike’s content has similarities; close in, emotional sports photography or action product shots, Nike font, Just Do It tone.

Once you have created your style guide that includes do’s and don’ts for the team to execute against, we reach our second point. You will need to train the community manager to recognize a real-time marketing moment. This may be the diciest of the steps because this is where things can go horribly awry. Kenneth Cole, we are still looking at you. The ability to recognize a moment in time that has both social buzz and a brand connection sounds a lot easier than it actually is. To accomplish this, it is valuable to brainstorm pop culture events and talk about how the brand can leverage these moments to be more real time. You will never be able to plan for all of the amazingly weird things that happen in pop culture, but, if you brainstorm and design a few scenarios, it might be easier to identify those real-time marketing moments. For example, you know something interesting will happen at an awards show. Engaging your social team to talk through different scenarios and how the brand might be able to listen to the social chatter and contribute something amazing in real time. For example, remember when Angelina Jolie flashed serious leg at the Oscars, the team at Skintimates could have been all over that conversation will a real time approach. This was a missed opportunity.

It is important to trust your team to do their job and engage in real time marketing

So, you have your guidelines and the team is listening for a real-time marketing moment, then, you will need to be ready to trust the team to authorize the creation of content in real time and execute that work. Since most community managers are not artists or comics, it may mean activating your agency at 10:30 p.m. on a Sunday; it may mean that you have a team on call to create something using a template. Once you have the brand guidelines and the team trained, we come to our final step. Trust. It is important to trust your team to do their job and engage in real time marketing. Mistakes may get made, which if why having a response model at the ready is a great idea.

Oreo and Nike are both beloved American brands with a strong brand voice and iconography. Their adoption of real time marketing is advancing and entrenching their brand in social. They have shifted their marketing mindset to be more agile in nature. And this shift does more to support the consumer than their competitors as media consumption continues to evolve. Are you ready to get real time

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About Tracey Parsons

Tracey Parsons

Since 1995, Tracey has been developing digital solutions. Currently SME Digital’s lead strategist, she continues to be dedicated to bringing cutting edge, thoughtful and measurable solutions to marketers. With more than 15 years in digital, Tracey not only brings vision, but the tools and strategies to execute against complex next generation concepts. She has worked with some of the world’s most recognized brands to develop and devise cutting-edge social, mobile and digital marketing practices.

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