Is Real-Time Marketing Still Relevant?

It used to be easier to reach a broad audience with a single message — until the internet came along and introduced social media, where it’s no longer about one-to-many, but personalization. So how do brands make a presence in personalized feeds? By becoming part of culture.

When you hear “culturally relevant content,” you likely think of real-time newsjacking like Oreo’s Dunk in the Dark tweet during the power outage of the 2013 Super Bowl. But has that stunt grown stale?

The formerly groundbreaking practice of one-off cultural plays seems to be losing its novelty, after years of overuse, misuse and expectation.

Still, rather than striking real-time marketing from the social content mix, it’s time for brands to reimagine establishing relevance.

Here are some ways brands are playing into the cultural conversation through modern social engagement:

Jumping in on Conversations.
The key? Balancing the right window, strong brand guidelines, and not being too precious with content.



Growing beyond a campaign-first mindset, brands are leaning into social listening to join in on social conversation. Memes have become a popular play, often coming out of nowhere, to share a unique POV in a format that’s universally recognized.

Joining culture? Listen to others. If we’ve learned something in 2019, it’s that anything can win the internet overnight. Brands can’t always predict the next World Record Egg or #10yearchallenge, but being in-tune with cultural moments, even everyday conversations, can be an open invite to meet consumers where they’re already engaging.

Driving culture? Get others to listen. While Netflix didn’t win an Oscar for “Bird Box,” it did take over the news feed with its meme strategy. Through a “pop culture osmosis” effect, Netflix created cultural imprints to drive awareness, intrigue, and FOMO about the film, spurring conversation that ultimately drove consumers to check it out.

It’s Personal.
The key? Developing a personality and personalized messaging.

Humanizing a brand can not only bring a brand’s personality to life but helps establish meaningful connections. A strong brand voice doesn’t just push out a marketing calendar or comment on culture, but becomes the intersection of culture and truth about the brand’s values.

With a personality in place, brands can take a more personal approach when reacting to news, both good and bad. For example, when  Asos had a spelling error on its packaging, or KFC ran out of chicken (it happens), social was a quick way for brands to proactively get ahead of conversation and turn a crisis into creative.

Get Real in Real Time.  
The key? Make participation easy.

Social conversation is a two-way street, and with users taking more control of what they see, brands are staking their claim in culture by prompting conversations through clever call-to-action plays.

Engagement plays that speak to a larger audience but address users as individuals can build a relationship where the brand is front and center. HBO sparked conversation about the 20th anniversary of “The Sopranos” by giving fans custom, mob-inspired names, all while reminding users to binge the series.

The payoff? Building authentic, direct relationships through consistent dialogue. With proper tools and planning, culture-driven brands can keep a pulse on what’s happening in consumers’ worlds and how it can then be made relevant through the brand.

Let’s be honest, we’re not raising our hands for more ads. But what we do want is entertaining content that creates connection.

By understanding this power shift, brands can find meaningful ways to create relevance and drive desire, on consumers’ terms, through social. The key is shifting from focusing beyond just real-time content, and incorporating real-time connection.

1 comment about "Is Real-Time Marketing Still Relevant?".
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  1. Bart Foreman from Infinity Direct, July 9, 2019 at 11:59 a.m.

    An excellent presentation of the state of the art. Thanks for your well presented arguement. Marketers need to focus on the art of engagement and staying connected.

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