One of the undisputed advantages of the Internet is that it runs 24/7. Internet time means that things happen faster than they do in real life — conversations continue ‘round the clock, information is continually compiled and ideas appear at any time. Internet time is advantageous to marketers because you can participate in discourse in your industry, build awareness and aggrandize branding efforts by putting up content.
Technology is apparently a limitless tool, but what about connecting with customers and prospective client right now? Real-time marketing is a snappy technique that takes advantage of Internet time and the far reach of the medium via various platforms. Real-time marketing, or RTM, is a method of participating in Internet news and trends by fitting the topic to your own marketing needs.
Whether or not you’ve ever heard of RTM, the concept is a similar one to newsjacking, a term conceived by David Meerman Scott. Newsjacking refers to the adoption of a piece of news as a vehicle for driving a marketing agenda. This agenda may include a particular product or service, or simply relate your company in a more general way. Newsjacking is a common enough practice that can be applied across online media, from the company blog to social media networks.
Real-time marketing, however, is a honed application of this practice, and may be better suited to platforms that keep up with the accelerated nature of Internet time.
Twitter is particularly well-suited to RTM efforts due to its quick cycling through small bites of media, along with its built-in hashtag system which connects users talking about a particular topic while publicizing which trends are most popular. Indeed, Twitter’s services have become an unexpected tool for journalists as well as average citizens who have reported crises events as they happen in real time. Live tweeting of current events like political speeches, sports games, and the like has become commonplace due to its usefulness. So what does an application of RTM look like?
When it became public that Apple’s iPhone 6 has an unfortunate manufacturing flaw increasing its flexibility, #BendGate began trending widely. Many iPhone users reported their unhappiness with the device, tech critics offered snark on the matter, and countless tech publications released their findings. Brands also began participating in this hashtag without abandon, most notably KitKat.
KitKat hopped on the BendGate bandwagon and got tons of attention from individual users and media outlets alike with nearly 30,000 retweets. Not only did KitKat cleverly adapt the situation to fit an aspect of their product — “breaking off a piece” — but they also injected some humor into their message. People like to see recognizable brands engage in pop culture or current happenings where they can enjoy, share, or even respond themselves.
KitKat’s application of real-time marketing continues to be a great example because it shows how brands can use a trend to reference themselves, and get far-reaching results with the right message. Admittedly, #BendGate was the perfect storm for KitKat, a brand with a well-established concept backed by a jingle (“Gimme a Break”). But truly real-time marketing can be applied universally with careful attention to trends and a bit of creativity.
Any brand can participate in real-time marketing by knowing strengths and audience preferences. Though Twitter is the most illustrative example, it’s possible to apply RTM through different venues, as long as your campaign includes personalization geared toward the customer, is self-referential, and, ultimately relevant.
About The Author
Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for more than 20 years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.