Marketers are now in a very unique position to be able to communicate in real time with consumers. In the past few months, we’ve seen real-time marketing transformed into an essential component of any digital marketing strategy. Brands are building out entire teams and resources to be able to insert themselves into in-the-moment conversations. When done correctly, the consumer response has been outstanding. With no need for details, the now famous "Dunk in the dark" Oreo example garnered a phenomenal number of "Likes" and retweets. However, these simple interactions only begin to scrape the surface for brands looking to connect with consumers. These interactions are, at their foundation, added brand equity noise with little to no actual revenue-bearing value to brands and to the overall business strategy.
Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger responded to Oreo’s campaign in a recent article in Wired: " . . . is this going to sell more Oreos at the end of the day? Hard to tell. [But] it definitely makes the brand seem like a more clever, more interesting, sharp brand. So in terms of brand equity, this is as effective, if not more effective, than just showing another Super Bowl ad." However, that’s just it—social gives brands the opportunity to go above and beyond what just "another advertisement" offers. Currently, real-time marketing is just another quick-serve digital ad resulting in fleeting interactions.
The question is: How can brands turn these real-time marketing moments into opportunities to build deeper, more insightful connections?
The natural extension to real-time marketing can and should be real-time insights. Brands need to think about these realtime moments as more than an opportunity to put their name into a conversation. Consumers have become accustomed to brands in their conversations and even welcome the interaction, if it comes in an authentic, nondisruptive, and useful manner. Not only are these moments opportunities for brands to join the conversation, but also for brands to establish a value-driven feedback loop with consumers.
For instance, in the most elementary example, what if Oreo asked fans during that famous Super Bowl moment to show them how they dunk in the dark. It’s a fun, relevant question that gets fans to react in a more engaging manner and delivers more useful insights to Oreo. This might seem like a silly request, but the second-touch consumer response offers a look into the consumers’ daily life, their use, and the way they want to communicate with the brand. Are the photos funny or serious? Are they just dunking in milk? There are always hidden insights in consumer responses.
When a real-time marketing moment is turned into a real-time insight, brands can convert "Likes" into loyalty and purchasing power. However, it takes brand involvement to inspire and uncover these hidden insights. Most consumers need a little inspiration or a simple "ask" to share with a brand. And, as in any good relationship, it’s imperative to take notice of that response and assure consumers that they’ve been heard.
The real-time aspect of social media can be a huge opportunity for brands. Brands cannot succeed in the social media space without building it into their strategy. However, without a solid strategy that transforms real-time moments into insight-deriving conversations, these moments are purely noise. Extending these moments into response-driven conversations can build meaningful consumer relationships that result in increased value and opportunity.
Riley Gibson is cofounder of Napkin Labs.