The key to the previous sentence is "unexpected." There was no formal plan for the lights to go out during the Super Bowl, but it happened and while some marketers spent millions of dollars for a TV spot, companies like Oreo were ready to respond real-time encouraging followers "you can still dunk in the dark."
As we approach a premiere sporting event season with the Super Bowl and Olympics right around the corner, how can marketers take advantage of real-time marketing?
Be prepared. At any moment, something can occur and the conversation can take off on social media. As marketers, you should have a plan in place for posting throughout the Olympics, but also be prepared for the unexpected to happen. You should start by putting a plan in place to participate in conversations related to your brand and what your brand stands for. You should also be prepared for the unexpected. This doesn't mean having a team together waiting for that unexpected moment, but be ready to join in on the conversation, if appropriate (see my ethics point below).
Stay consistent with brand message. You want to do your best to stay true to your brands image and what you stand for as a brand. This means finding the appropriate conversations to join and can add value to the conversation (not just posting play-by-play posts on the event).
Besides last year's Oreo campaign, one campaign that resonates and speaks to this is a campaign a student presented in my social media course. Pantene Pro-V had an excellent real-time marketing campaign at last year's Oscars when they posted sketches of hairstyles and provided followers with how they could recreate those styles with their products. Brilliant. The brand focused on the part of the Oscar's that was relevant to their brand and provided value to their audience without forcing buy, buy, buy down their throats.
Remember ethics. It is important to remember to establish ethical practices when it comes to your postings. If a major crisis occurs, you want to make sure you turn off any scheduled postings to respect that situation. In addition, you should not try to capitalize on a tragedy by joining the conversation to continue to sell or promote your brand. We witnessed how upset and outraged a community of followers can get whenever this is attempted. We saw this with Epicurious' tweets during the Boston Bombing, as well as Kenneth Cole and American Apparel's tweets during Super Storm Sandy.
What are your best practices for real-time marketing? As the Super Bowl and Olympic approach, will marketers attempt real-time marketing if the time is right?