Listen Up! 4 Ways to Prepare for Real-Time Marketing with Social Listening


Real-time marketing is a way to interject your brand into what’s currently popular or trending in order to increase brand exposure. It’s about delivering the right message to the right audience at the right time. The idea is to create content on-the-fly that responds to chatter around a current event or trending story. So while you can’t create your content in advance, you can prepare yourself to be successful with your real-time efforts. How? Just listen to the social web.

Here are four ways social listening can prepare you for real-time marketing.

1. Establish a Baseline for Your Brand and Competition

It’s important to monitor mentions of your company, brand and competition in social on an ongoing basis so you know what’s typical in terms of mentions volume, the normal windows for increases or decreases, overall sentiment and typical topics discussed. Once you have a baseline established it will be easy to tell when there is an increase in chatter or organic conversations around your brand or when the topics go in a surprising direction. Keeping a constant eye on mentions of your brand and your competition will help you recognize when your brand has an impromptu window to act.

By monitoring brand mentions and recognizing a dramatic increase in volume, Hot Pockets was able to find and capitalize on a great real-time marketing opportunity. After Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey—leaving many without power or supplies—a Newark resident tweeted to his social-savvy then mayor Cory Booker (he has over 1.4 million followers to date) telling him he had run out of Hot Pockets.

Listen Up! 4 Ways to Prepare for Real Time Marketing with Social Listening image hot pockets tweet

Mayor Booker’s response soon went viral and Hot Pockets reacted quickly by sending the mayor hundreds of coupons for free Hot Pockets to distribute to the residents of Newark. Hot Pockets didn’t get directly involved in the conversation, but Booker thanked the brand for its donation by tweeting a picture of the letter and coupons. By monitoring mentions of its brand in social and following the conversation as it gained speed, Hot Pockets was able to find a great opportunity to act. Plus, by finding a way to help and not just promote, the brand was able to gain extremely positive buzz and brand exposure.

2. Track Your Industry

It’s easy to get caught up in the real-time hype and only focus on big events like the Super Bowl or the Oscars, but don’t forget that real-time marketing is really no different than your regular marketing. The conversations that you participate in have to be relevant to your brand in order for your efforts to be successful. So how do you find the right trending stories or news for your brand? By paying attention to the conversations and the trends that are happening around your industry.

Are you a fitness brand? Find out what’s happening in the lifestyle and fitness industry. Are you a mascara brand? You should be listening to conversations around the beauty industry as a whole, but also focus on specific topics—like makeup rather than skincare. Your monitoring plan for your industry should be broad, but also narrow enough that you can find something that will resonate with your target audience.

3. Know Your Target Audience

In order to identify opportunities where real-time marketing might work, you first need to figure out what types of content your target audience will respond to. What types of content are they sharing? What has worked well in the past? In what platforms are conversations relevant to your brand taking place? Listen to social to understand what will work best for your brand. If you have a basic understanding of what works well where, and you know your audience inside and out, you’ll be better prepared to give them exactly what they want when it comes time to create real-time content.

4. Get Prepared

While you can’t plan your real-time marketing content ahead of time, you can plan for the types of events your brand should be ready to monitor and react to. Create a calendar of events or holidays that may be pertinent to your brand and possible topics for conversation. These could be public events, brand events (such as a product launch or company anniversary), or breaking news. Set up a monitoring plan for these well in advance so you can start tracking social conversations leading up to the events. That way you’ll understand the volume of mentions and what topics have people buzzing so you can start thinking about what your audience will react to the most.

Want to learn more about real-time marketing? Download our white paper, Real-Time Marketing: Go Beyond the Buzz, for definitions, examples and work plans to get you started.

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