There has been a lot of hype over real-time marketing (RTM) over the past two years and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down.
I had the pleasure of speaking on the topic at Social Media Marketing World and as evidenced by the sold out room, it is a hot topic for marketers these days.
While engaging in a trending topic can show some of Take my Facebook newsfeed during the last Superbowl. It was flooded with images of Superbowl “war rooms” – more brands than I can count were on a quest to have the next Oreo “dunk in the dark” moment. They were investing a lot of time and money for short-term gain.
I’m not saying these tactics never work or don’t produce meaningful results. When done correctly, they can show your brand’s personality and have a lasting impression on audiences. But this is extremely difficult to achieve and more often than not, we are left with a highly diluted feed of brands trying to jump into the conversation.
When one or two brands figure this out, it can be fun and interesting.
When dozens of brands are trying to jump in, it tends to just add to the noise.
What I find most interesting about the conversation surrounding RTM is that it overlooks the most foundational form of real-time engagement – customer service. I get it, helping to fix a customer issue is not as sexy or glamorous as some of the RTM successes we’ve seen – but I’d argue if you’re choosing between the two, figuring out the service piece is far more sustainable and will pay off with greater dividends in the long-term.
Many social media practitioners are being forced into RTM tactics by leadership – they saw the success of case studies like Oreo and Arby’s and want a piece of the action. If you’re feeling this pressure and don’t have the resources to engage (because let’s face it, this is not a free lunch by any means), fear not. The following outlines the most basic forms of RTM and how you can be part of the action.
The real opportunity for RTM lies in engaging in what’s relevant, not what’s trending.
Giving your audience what they need in a manner that is relevant, timely, and useful, is a successful long-term strategy that will keep them coming back again and again. The key is to focus on the three R’s of RTM and find conversations where relevancy for your business, customer, and time intersect.
For this reason, social customer service is the most basic form of RTM – we just don’t tend to include service in this bucket. But it isn’t limited to just reactive service. There are many opportunities to engage with the three R’s of RTM on a proactive basis.
This is exactly what we do at Hilton Worldwide with our Twitter handl,e @HiltonSuggests. As a hospitality company with locals around the world, we have tremendous knowledge on how to enjoy all a city has to offer – including the hidden gems that only a local would know. Our global Twitter team monitors Twitter search in real time and engages when we can offer help that matters to the user.
These aren’t mainstream trending topics we’re chiming in on – but to the user tweeting the question, it is the most relevant topic in their stream. Providing this real-time assistance is not only relevant to the guest, but to our company as it grows brand equity across our global portfolio.
So before you jump on the RTM bandwagon, I encourage you to take a step back and think through your broader strategy. Are you going after the sexy marketing strategies like RTM in trending topics, or are you after a more sustainable approach like service? There’s room for both in the space, but I’d argue not for every brand.
If you haven’t figured out the service piece yet, make that your mission. Go to your service department, sit with them for several days, and really dive in.
Marketing can’t sustain customer service forever. We realized that years ago, which is why we’ve had our social service team up and running for 3+ years in our call center. Your social hours should reflect your business hours and for those of you like us who are 24/7, social is no different.
Why not make 2014 the year that your company excelled at social customer service? The fruits of this labor will be far more rewarding long-term than any one-off RTM win.