By Jan McQuillan

April 27th, 2015

Whilst many marketers understand the value of effective real-time marketing campaigns* there are few brands (bar some notable exceptions) doing it really well. We all remember that selfie taken at the 2014 Oscars which was seen by 33 million people by the day after the ceremony, and estimated to be worth between 800 million and one billion dollars.

Unfortunately, there are few “formulas” for building an effective and innovative RTM campaign on social, most of the time you need to concoct a magic potion combining creativity, impeccable timing, and relevance for your brand. However, there are some assets and conditions you can nurture which will stand you in good stead for success. Here are eight tips and tricks.

#1 – Get yourself a content and events calendar
Whether you are working on a brand-wide level or focusing specifically on social, you need perspective on what the coming months will look like for your marketing teams, and it should account for the content that you can plan as well as the content that you can’t. You should be actively seeking opportunities for real-time marketing and engagement, and documenting them in advance so you can plan your tactics (see all points below). 

#2 – Do your prep work
The first step towards being able to create engaging content in the moment is having an idea of what it will look like in advance. If you’ve chosen to cover a live event, consider what might happen and what the content you could produce might look like.

Some content could be planned fully in advance (many brands have done this poorly, but it is not always bad); for the rest, your teams should go in with plenty of ideas, then be ready to change them in the moment.  

#3 – Anticipate staffing and resource needs
Real-time marketing demands the ability to move quickly, and to shift resources just as fast. Based on your goals, you may need copywriters, social media managers, designers or other staff to be able to ramp up presence around both planned and unplanned events.

It’s also important to consider visual resources in advance. Even with a designer present, templates can ease content creation, as well as allowing other team members to produce high quality work without  a designer if necessary.

#4 – Ensure access to customer insights
Real-time resources need to enable your teams to identify opportunities to connect with your fans. Listening tools that can help you drill down into the audiences that are talking about different topics are a good starting point. Direct monitoring of social networks is valuable as well. 

#5 – Consider war rooms / brand newsrooms
The way in which brands create content in real time depends on a number of factors, but they can basically be boiled down to their resources and their goals.

At the most ambitious end of the spectrum are the “war rooms” created by large brands and agencies for big events. Usually staffed by large teams, and covered in monitors with social and video feeds, these spaces help brands to take in the maximum amount of information so that they have the greatest chance at finding something on which to base compelling content. Such a setup, while nice to have, is not absolutely necessary. Some sort of physical space can however be extremely helpful, considering the focus necessary to produce content in real time.

Brand newsrooms or "war rooms" can be helpful when carrying out real-time marketing campaigns

Brand newsrooms or “war rooms” can be helpful when carrying out real-time marketing campaigns

#6 – Be able to execute quickly and carefully
Doing things fast does not mean doing them without goals in mind. Real time execution requires generating a lot of ideas quickly, and pruning them just as fast. The ability to clearly articulate what the finished product will look like, what its appeal is and how it will help you reach your goals is important in general, even more so when decisions are made in seconds.

#7 – Set up internal approval processes
There needs to be a clearly designated person on a team with the authority to approve messages fast, and a backup person in case that person is unavailable. 

And there should be, despite (or because of) the pressure in such a real-time setup, a final review for content. Once something is ready to go, wait, even if it’s just a few seconds, and take a final look before distributing, to make sure it’s on brand and up to your standards.

 #8. Define a way to measure success
Successful real-time marketing makes an immediate impact. There’s value in shares and impressions, as well as in involving your brand in more conversations around something happening in real-time. Each real-time marketing effort, whether it’s for a short event like a sports match, or something spread over a few days, like a conference, should be followed by a thorough debrief to understand results and to identify opportunities for improvement.

We wish you well on your real-time marketing efforts!  

*76% of respondents to a major survey thought that real-time marketing activities helped increase audience engagement, 58% said they increased customer satisfaction and positive brand sentiment. Social movement, Real-time Social Engagement, Immediate Future, 2014. 

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