The increased focus on community management has made marketers think about content in different ways they had before. On top of that, marketers have to appreciate that what often goes viral online is not just timely, but what’s bubbling up in that very moment.
According to David Berkowitz, CMO of MRY, that’s a challenge because so much of what’s culturally relevant is fleeting. If you don’t respond within the moment, then everyone’s already onto the next thing. Easier said than done. Although real time makes a brand appear as if it is great at thinking on the fly, a lot of prep actually goes into it.
“I’m not sure brands need a real time team, per se,” Berkowitz told CMO.com. “But they need to have enough people internally or with their agency to properly monitor what’s going on and respond.”
Building The Team
According to Berkowitz, leaders need to preselect which marketers will comprise the “real-time marketing team” who’s prepped and ready for special events. A team is not necessary for the day-to-day stuff. But for big events, you need someone from insights and analytics to identify what is catching on, and strategists looking for trends. Community managers also need to be involved, as do brand managers, since they’re the ones who are responsible for approving content.
Another key person, Berkowitz explained, is a lawyer who understands that whatever’s being produced needs to be approved quickly. Then there are the designers and other creatives who play an important role, especially since the majority of what’s getting the best response in social media is visual. That doesn’t necessarily mean video, nor does it mean you need a massive production budget. Images and GIFs are doing really well, too.
Part of the challenge with building out this ad hoc team is that these people have day-to-day jobs, and it’s not always easy taking them away from what they're working on. A sit down is imperative, Berkowitz explained. All of the key people need to understand the importance of real-time marketing. They need to make a commitment to be nimble and flexible with their schedules.
Part of the preparation for real-time marketing is getting a process down, according to Aubrey Flynn, brand content director for Ciroc Ultra Premium Vodka. As a brand does it regularly, the better the process becomes. It’s about knowing what you can and cannot do, and learning from it. If your creative from last week’s campaign was too pithy, then you need to know to turn it down the next time. It saves the back and forth between the team and the lawyer. That’s the hardest part, actually. It’s not hard to come up with interesting things to say. Going through those motions and learning from mistakes--that’s the challenge.
“The rise of real-time marketing has changed how marketers develop creative content, allocate resources, and engage consumers, in general,” Flynn told CMO.com. “Now marketers must be prepared to converse with consumers in real time in many ways, from on-site event activations, to integrated public relations opportunities and relationship management.”
Looking Into The Future
When you have a tent pole of events that you know are going to happen, you need to prep in advance. MRY's Berkowitz cited events like Fashion Week, the Super Bowl, the Oscars, and March Madness, which occur each year. During the Oscars, for example, people will be talking about how what people are wearing. That follows a script, so marketers interested in engaging people should be coming up with messaging in advance about dress fails, best dressed, and maybe even be ready in case someone trips on the red carpet. Who showed the most skin? That type of thing.
Berkowitz also said that some marketers will prep for something like “Best Actor,” with a piece of content for all five Oscar nominees. When the winner is announced, they obviously go with the corresponding piece of content. That allows a marketer to have everything approved in advance. And that’s great, but you can’t always anticipate when something like Sharknado or the Super Bowl blackout takes over the Internet. Content that responds to these types of scenarios is so shareable. Otherwise, for any marketer that wanted to comment on Kate Middleton’s baby, they’ve had six months to prepare.
A recent study by Neolane, in partnership with The Direct Marketing Association, found that 77 percent of marketers believe that real-time marketing is highly important to their organizations, but that there are obstacles they need to overcome in order to gain all the benefits of these campaigns. The greatest barriers to success and the reason why real-time initiatives are not implemented are complexity of systems, access to real-time data, data privacy issues, and the fact that training is required.
According to Ciroc’s Flynn, the key to jumping any hurdles with respect to real-time marketing is building a multifaceted digital team who's responsive and focused on analytics, optimization, and curating conversations. In terms of preparation, there isn’t one bible on how to prep and what the process should be. What’s important is to figure out who needs to be part of real-time marketing content production and who is part of the approval process. Once you know that, then you have to ensure those connections run as fast as possible.
“Otherwise, I can’t really explain what the process should be,” MRY’s Berkowitz said. “Companies are all different and have different approval demands. Also, there are cases where a brand wants to add paid media to increase exposure, but this adds another layer of complexity. It could mean another third party needs to be involved, or someone internally from a different department. So brands also need to figure out, for each event, how much complexity they are planning around.”