Real-time marketing should have been happening all along

It's not about executing real-time marketing activities because someone said it was cool to do so. It's because our clients or companies are already paying us to do it in the first place.

On Tuesday, Scott Monty, Ford Motor Company's global head of social media and all-around good guy, shared some thoughts about the trend of the day/week/whatever, “real time marketing,” on his blog and elsewhere. It certainly got me thinking. Well, maybe it just got me thinking about this a little differently.

For a few weeks, there have been all sorts of looks at the inner workings of Oreo's “real-time” response to the power outage during this year's Super Bowl. It was lauded by many, ultimately leading to all kinds of speculation as to what people would do for this year's Academy Awards, which took place this past Sunday. Without getting too judgmental about the activities people did that night, I'd like to take this opportunity to ask: What have you all been doing on behalf of your clients or brands all this time?

This shouldn't be new. That's not to say there isn't something to it or that a bunch of us can sit here and play Monday morning quarterback on everyone else's decisions. But let's be honest: those of us who have the privilege – and I do consider it one – to help brands tap into social spaces in order to build communities, expand marketing reach, or sell a product or service – gasp! Did he just suggest actual business results being driven from social media? – should have been considering “real time” marketing all this time.

This is not a criticism of Oreo in any way. In fact, I thought it was a fun execution and showed that the company played the game well. It's the idea that we live in a marketing world where people are suggesting that Poland Spring “missed an opportunity” by not immediately doing something after Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) sipped a bottle of the company's water during his State of the Union rebuttal. The company posted a fun photo the next day, “reflecting on our cameo,” the caption said. To me, that's a well-executed, non-reactionary, properly-thought-out response. It was apolitical, didn't poke fun at anyone, and let the brand have a moment – to reflect, as it turned out. If we were on Google+, I'd give it a +1.

Back to the core issue at hand, though. I am a big proponent of setting up editorial calendars – or at least basic structure – for what our clients are doing or sharing in social spaces. This doesn't mean we pre-write every Facebook post or tweet or pre-shoot all our Instagram photos days (or weeks, even) in advance. It just means we prep for what's ahead with one goal in mind – providing great content, engaging with audiences, and, most importantly, being nimble.

The last part is, in my opinion, the differentiator all of us should be looking for when we're hiring a new team member or community manager, a new agency, or selecting a leader. If there's one thing I'd ever hold back on being critical about as it pertains to a team member, it would be coming up with fresh thoughts, original ideas, or being able to riff on something on a moment's notice. This doesn't mean going willy-nilly and commenting on whatever trending topic is currently hot on Twitter, but it means not sitting on our laurels just because we wrote the 18 tweets we hoped to post for a client this week or last week.

Back in the days when we had to contend with was a corporate blog or two, we used to work with leaders to recognize that even something as simple as that article link they were forwarding to three colleagues could potentially be a blog post where they shared a brief point of view or something to store away for a rainy day. I would suggest we still take that advice today, except now it's not about being “trendy” and executing real-time marketing activities because someone said it was cool to do so. It's because our clients or companies are already paying us to do it in the first place.

Tom Biro is VP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at or on Twitter @tombiro. 

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in