Brands are unquestionably shifting to “real-time” marketing. For some, this means accelerating from “brand as publisher” to “brand as newsroom.” The word “newsroom” conveys the commitment to high-quality storytelling and the urgency required to keep pace with the social landscape.
Content value was first measured by consumption: did the message reach the right consumer with enough frequency? Next was engagement: were consumers spending enough time with messages to impact mindshare or consumer behavior? Social actions are an even better metric. As consumers like, comment, tweet, pin, or share content, they use it to start a conversation. The intersection of content and conversation yields a more valuable audience in terms of mindset and purchase behaviors.
Now, brands invested in content must march to the fast-paced drumbeat of the social landscape. To generate coveted social shares, brands need a continual supply of real-time content paced like conversation on Facebook and Twitter newsfeeds, changing by the second.
A successful and comprehensive approach to real-time digital strategy integrates content creation, technology, and audience development:
Real-time Content Creation. Brand content strategy can employ multiple approaches:
-- Original content. Creating original content, such as articles and videos, yields the most “on-brand” assets, but this higher cost strategy is unlikely to yield sufficient return without being combined with other more scalable storytelling techniques.
-- Newsfeeds. Brands can also acquire the equivalent of a brand “newsfeed.” In the same way newsrooms tap AP or Reuters to augment original reporting, brand feeds offer real-time content curated through the brand lens.
-- Curation. A third content strategy is content sharing or curation. Brands express their voice by shining a light on content evocative of their brand or appealing to their target audience. Links to valued content require no asset creation but still deliver value to consumers. Curation requires sophisticated editorial choices and deep understanding of brand DNA as opposed to outright cash investment.
Real-time Technology. As brands contemplate real-time storytelling, they quickly conclude that content management will be key to the winning equation. To maximize the return on real-time content, it becomes imperative to have technology that:
-- Enables highly efficient publishing workflows,
-- Facilitates communication and decision-making across vast groups of brand stakeholders,
-- Manages rights and attribution, and
-- Integrates real-time data and analytics to help connect brand stories to the broadest audiences possible.
Real-time Audience Development. Real-time content strategies must align to real-time audience strategies. Brands can prime consumer discovery by tapping into both organic and paid forms of distribution:
-- Organic. A strong bias should be given to organic traffic, defined as referrals coming from search or social, both of which offer action-oriented consumers. Search requires maniacal attention to tagging and headlines. Social requires rapidly and continually integrating site strategies with Facebook, Twitter and other accounts to make content “the fuel of the social web.” A relentless focus on posts gets content noticed in noisy social newsfeeds.
-- Paid. Beyond organic traffic, distribution can certainly be bought (and there’s probably a media company -- or 20 -- delighted to service the need). Paid media amplifies owned and earned media strategies. The key is to be sure that the purchase of such distribution is as real-time as the content.
Ultimately, real-time digital strategies are likely to precipitate wholesale change within brand marketing organizations, as these approaches are not effectively deployed across marketing and digital functions operating in silos. As client organizations transform to fully integrated decision-making, the loose confederations of agencies servicing these clients across creative, social, media, PR, technology and digital are likely to follow. Real-time strategies don’t wait for the game of telephone to be completed.