As I settled down to watch the first night of the 2014 Winter Olympics–like most nerds who work in social media–I had Twitter pulled up on my second screen pulled. That’s when I happened upon this tweet from Clorox. Perfectly timed to coincide with the Olympic games, it mocked the toilet situation in Sochi with a branded image. Immediately, the post picked up 25 retweets–and every single one of those was from someone in marketing.
The infamous Oreo “Dunk in the Dark” Super Bowl tweet won every advertising award under the sun. Why? Because it was interesting to the industry. Ad execs and social media consultants alike celebrated the brand’s ability to capitalize on an unplanned event. Truly, it was a really great image and a smart move for Oreo at the time. But this unleashed a firestorm of brands desperately trying to make themselves relevant to events or experiences that have little or nothing to do with them.
Here’s the truth about this frequently used tactic: Real-time marketing is just a lot of marketers talking to fellow marketers. It’s an industry tactic–one which, when done successfully, gets noticed by others in the industry. In fact, the industry is so obsessed with themselves, they started a hashtag during the Super Bowl solely to watch for real-time marketing initiatives.
Brands randomly tweet to other brands.
Brands commemorate national tragedies.
Real-time marketing is an executional tactic–one that more often than not is ignored (most RTM efforts garner fewer than 100 shares).
If your goal is to be recognized within the industry (which is not a bad thing by any means), then real-time marketing can definitely work. A word of caution though: Poorly executed campaigns can receive more coverage than successful ones. (Marketers LOVE to rip other marketers, after all.) However, if your goal has anything to do with increased sales, retention, awareness, or customer loyalty, consider tactics that work toward adding value to your target audience and consumers as a whole.