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In the early days of social media, the big challenge for brands was joining the conversation. But now that most brands have a social media presence, brand participation is no longer optional - it's simply expected.

This expectation is what drives the popularity of real-time marketing. If you've never heard of this term before, real-time marketing is the practice of marketing "on the fly" by creating campaigns that latch on to events (usually award shows or sporting events), topics and memes. Think Oreo's "Dunking in the dark" tweet in 2013 or Virgin Holidays' "Time for a holiday" tweet after the passing of same-sex marriage bill in the UK.

While brands (and their agencies) are eager to join the conversation in a timely fashion, doing real-time marketing successfully is tricky - and it requires a focus on the customer. And for CMOs, the real challenge with real-time marketing is ROI. How can a timely tweet that has been re-tweeted thousands of times actually translate to sales?

As this week's articles shows, getting ROI from real-time marketing involves more than clever 140-character observations and interesting images:

  1. Listen and know what your audience.

The live events you tap into should align with the interests of your audience. Learn about the TV shows, sports, and live events your audience loves by monitoring their social conversations. For example, Banana Republic knew their target consumers are interested in celebrity style. In response, they ran a multi-channel campaign around the 2014 Oscars red carpet, featuring a live YouTube feed, live tweets, and a Hashtag Gallery that captured their customers' #truestyle. -

Tweet this: Want #ROI from real-time #marketing? Knowing your audience is key. More tips in this @VisionCritical roundup:

  1. Involve key people.

Oreo had already aired a solid TV ad with their "Cookie or Creme" spot. But they were set up to capitalize on social media when the lights went out [during the 2013 Super Bowl].

"We had a mission control set up at our office with the brand and 360i (advertising agency), and when the blackout happened, the team looked at it as an opportunity," agency president Sarah Hofstetter said.

The key to their rapid response and success was having the executives in the room, ready for some action. Having the branding team in the office meant it was easy to get the copy/design signed off and the tweet up within minutes. - Cassandra Hayes, SocialBro

Tweet this: The key to @Oreo's success in real-time marketing? It's involving all key people. See @VisionCritical roundup:

  1. Use real-time marketing campaigns to test ads for traditional media.

Real-time marketing campaigns can also be used as a testing ground for ads on more traditional media, allowing agencies to figure out in seconds how well a piece of content is doing on social media, Ms. Francke noted. A series of Facebook posts for the sleep aid ZzzQuil, about funny things people do when they don't get enough sleep, got a 5% engagement rate. That means 5% of the people who saw the post liked, shared or commented on it. The response prompted the brand to use the concept for a new print ad, Ms. Francke said. - Nathalie Tadena, The Wall Street Journal

Tweet this: Want to extend the impact of real-time #marketing? Use it to test your ads. More in this @VisionCritical roundup:

  1. Use memes and online events to get to know your customer.

Memes can also be a source of customer insight in and of themselves. What does the popularity of promposals say about the needs of teens today? Why do many Millennials participate in social media awareness campaigns, despite the stereotype that they are ambivalent on social issues?

Following social media events and memes related to your industry can be a great way of tapping into emergent demands or attitudes that will affect your business in the future. Use these events as a source of inspiration for the questions you should ask your customers in your research. - Aaron Paquette, EVP of TV and Film for Vision Critical, MediaPost

Tweet this: Memes & online events can inspire real-time marketing - while also providing #mrx insight. Via @VisionCritical roundup:

What do you think of real-time marketing? And how can brands ensure that their efforts in doing real-time marketing pay off? Share your thoughts with us below.

How to Use an Insight Community to Improve Customer Experience

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Kelvin Claveria

Kelvin Claveria was the former Content Marketing Manager and was responsible for Vision Critical's blog and social media marketing program. Before joining Vision Critical's global marketing team, Kelvin worked at Dunn PR, a Vancouver-based public relations firm. His experience includes working with lifestyle, real estate, and non-profit clients to develop social media marketing and PR strategies. Kelvin has a Bachelor of Business Administration from SFU's Beedie School of Business.
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