Sometimes you don’t have to be incredibly funny or witty to develop content that will please a crowd. Take Oreo, for example- they put together a picture of an Oreo cookie, surrounded by darkness with seven words at the bottom of the picture: “you can still dunk in the dark”. Without any context, it’s nothing special, right?

Oreo Super Bowl Ad

16,003 retweets and 6,229 favourites on the Twitter post that featured this picture would beg to differ. These comments seem to think it’s brilliant too:

Oreo Ad Twitter Comments

Michael Ash even used it as a prime example of disruptive marketing during April’s Innovative Evenings Event.

If you were watching the Super Bowl on February 3, 2013 or if you were even just remotely following the game on Twitter, this may have been the most brilliant ad you’ve ever seen. Oreo had the ability to take what everyone was talking about- a blackout during the Super Bowl game- connect it to their brand and deliver it in real time. They were relevant and nailed the execution. With a combination of clever marketing, relevant knowledge and established social media channels, Oreo did what we call Real-Time Marketing.

Since Oreo’s clever marketing move, real-time marketing has been in the spotlight. Many brands then decided that they could replicate the success of Oreo by producing some mediocre ads during the Oscars.

Skinny Cow Ad

This Skinny Cow ad rendered an astonishing 1 retweet and 1 favourite during the Oscars.

Charmin Oscar Ad

It was pretty relevant, but not many people can or want to relate to an overflowing toilet.

Klondlike Oscar Ad

Or…I won’t retweet this because I kind of liked Jennifer Lawrence’s Dior Couture Dress more.

Failed AdsUnfortunately for these brands, not everyone can be like Oreo. Their attempts at real-time marketing  made them that kid that just tries too hard to make a joke, but fails. So before you go ahead and start making mediocre real-time marketing posts about just about everything that’s on TV, you have to understand what real-time marketing is and how to properly execute it.

What is Real-Time Marketing?

The previous examples probably gave you a vague idea of what real-time marketing is. But if you thought that the concept of real-time marketing came to life at the moment Oreo posted that photo, you are greatly mistaken.

Real-time marketing has its origins in the mid 1990s, during the early adoption of customer relationship management. Many businesses left behind a rigid business structure in favour of a more responsive business model. In result, businesses responded to customers’ needs in real-time, providing solutions that were relevant to the context of what was happening.

The concept of responding to customers in real-time still stands today. It is even becoming stronger with the emergence of high speed Internet and social media platforms. With these established infrastructures, news breaks out over seconds, rather than days. Real-time marketing is the concept of aligning your business or brand with breaking news and trends. By developing messaging that is relevant to the latest breaking news and trends, you are creating content that people can relate to and want to share.

Real-Time Marketing

Why Real-Time Marketing Works

So why can a picture of an Oreo in the dark receive 16,000 retweets while your thought out social media marketing campaign couldn’t compare?

This is because people perceive real-time marketing content as authentic, relevant and relatable.  People are now actively aware of messages that have been thought out for weeks or months to get them to buy something. Instead, they are in of favour in-the-moment, authentic messaging that they can relate to. Although with real-time marketing your content is still related to your brand, it’s also creatively aligned with something people are currently developing opinions about. Because this content is so relatable, people are empowered to share it and express they’re also on top of the latest breaking news.

So what does being the clever, witty kid that makes the best jokes do for your business? Not only will you improve your brand reputation, but there is also a substantial ROI. Think about it- real-time marketing means you can’t be spending a ton of resources and time on producing the content. You have to think fast, be resourceful and deliver it on time. By doing so, producing content takes very little investment, while the returns are comparatively higher.

The Recipe To Successful Real-Time Marketing Content

Just a disclaimer before we get started in transforming you into a Pro Real-Time Marketer- it’s not as easy as a step by step process. It definitely takes a bit of luck and magic to nail real-time marketing. But integrating these factors into your ad can get you on the right path to real-time marketing stardom.

5 Ingredients for Perfect Real-Time Marketing Content [INFOGRAPHIC]

1. Information

To be informed, you have to decide which platforms you should be getting your information from. Determine which platform your audience uses the most. Is your audience obsessed with visual content and prefer spending their time on Facebook or Instagram? Do they enjoy snackable content on Twitter?  Or do they enjoy diving deep into topics on Reddit and Digg?

After identifying the different platforms your audience resides on, determine what mindset they’re in when they’re participating in these platforms. Essentially, you have to be like a teenager stalking their crush- determine how they communicate, what type of content they like and why they use the platform.


2. Presence

Once you’ve identified the appropriate social media platforms, ensure that you have a significant presence on them. This means that you’ve been regularly posting good quality content and have been fostering a good relationship with a substantial amount of followers.

Social Media Presence

3. Talent

You don’t have to go around hiring “Real-Time Marketers.” Just put together a small real-time marketing team from your existing  team of marketers who are creative and can think on the spot. Keep the team small as too many team members may make decision making an even longer process within a short time frame. Also find members with different expertise in social media, design and copy writing.

Real-Time Marketing Team

4. Timing

Be alert of upcoming events and up-to-date on news stories that could create conversation amongst your target audience. It is called real-time marketing so make sure you’re releasing your content during a timeframe where it will still be spontaneous and interesting.


5. Luck

Sometimes you just got to leave it up to fate-there’s no equation to a successful real-time marketing ad. As long as you have made the effort to integrate the previous factors in, your ad has the potential to take off into social media fame.

Real-time marketing is more than an on time tweet- it represents a shift in the marketing landscape. Traditional marketing has gotten us in the routine of going through layers of bureaucracy to implement one marketing message. Real-time marketing, on the other hand, represents the value of marketing firms that have the ability to be informed and immediately responsive. No longer do you need millions of dollars of resources and months of planning to developing marketing content- you need a clear understanding of the digital landscape and your target audience.

So whether you’re a small business or global brand, you can make real-time marketing valuable to both your audience and your business.

Have you tried real-time marketing in the past? How do you implement it? I want to hear your opinions on real-time marketing!

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Tagged with: content marketing, real-time marketing, Social Media

About Karen Yu

Karen (@kykarenyu) is a Marketing Assistant for Powered by Search (@poweredbysearch), a profit HOT 50-ranked digital performance marketing agency in Toronto, Ontario. Karen is passionate about creative marketing and social activism.