What Does Real-Time Marketing Look Like on Twitter?

Many of the rules of digital marketing depend on the constant availability of the web and technological mediums. Word spreads more quickly on the internet than it does in real time — conversations happen fast and content makes the rounds.

Though the constant nature of web and digital tech definitely can be taken advantage of, you might be missing out if you’re only focusing on the long-term.

Real-time marketing is a way to make the most of the continuous flow of information via the internet right now. Real-time marketing, or RTM for short, injects your brand directly into current news and happenings, where people will see it in real time.

Real time marketing is closely related to newsjacking, a method invented by marketing and PR strategist David Meerman Scott. Newsjacking relies on using a recent event and relating it to a marketing campaign or to your business brand.

Both newsjacking and real-time marketing are ways to promote your initiatives by tying your business into a current, popular narrative. Newsjacking can be linked to real-time marketing in that they both adapt news to a singular purpose through online media. Real-time marketing, however, directly injects your spin into the happening narrative using social media networks that are already formatted for real-time interaction.

Due to its short-form format and instantaneous sharing options, Twitter is particularly useful for real-time events, from the Fifa World Cup to the Arab Spring. Rather than waiting for news to be picked up by news shows or newspapers, people do look to platforms like Twitter for information as it happens.

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Most likely, trends are the best vehicle for pushing an RTM agenda. Anything can be trending, and you’ll likely want to keep to the more lighthearted trends in order to avoid making a tactless statement. Keep a lookout for trends that you can easily adapt to your business’s services or overall brand in a clever, concise way.

One of the most well-known examples of real-time marketing using Twitter trends hails from the #BendGate fiasco earlier this year. Soon after the iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus entered the market this year, a video emerged exhibiting the latter’s susceptibility to bending. A highly-anticipated device from Apple was caught in the act with a hefty design flaw, thus #BendGate emerged as a trend.

Many companies commented humorously on #BendGate, but none were so well-received as Kit-Kat’s real-time hijacking of the trend. Referencing its well-known “Give Me a Break” jingle, Kit-Kat’s appropriate and funny tweet garnered a good deal of response.

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This example of real-time marketing shows the benefits of scouting trends and waiting for an opportunity to come up with a an apt marketing message. Using a popular trend like #BendGate, come up with a message that’s self-referential (the jingle), as well as being relevant. KitKat hit social media gold with almost 30,000 retweets.

The exposure that’s possible with real-time marketing is great for building awareness about your brand as well as endearing you to an audience, and will only continue to be employed in contemporary times.

Most importantly, the commentary is relevant, because the brand is adapting itself to a story that’s already established, rather than pushing a story of its own. The message is also highly effective when done correctly, because instead of broadcasting a message to a captive audience, this kind of marketing creates content that is compelling enough that viewers want to share it on their own.


Nick Rojas is a business consultant and writer who lives in Los Angeles and Chicago. He has consulted small and medium-sized enterprises for over twenty years. You can follow him on Twitter @NickARojas.

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