6 Ways Brands Turn Beyonce & Apple Products Into Successful Real-Time Marketing

Real-time mar­ket­ing gets a bad rep in the press, but one Adver­tis­ing Week pan­elist said audi­ences love it and engage with real-time con­tent when it is done right. Fur­ther, he also said not to lis­ten to detrac­tors who say there will nev­er be anoth­er Super Bowl black­out and...

Lisa Lacy By Lisa Lacy. Join the discussion » 0 comments

Real-time mar­ket­ing gets a bad rep in the press, but one Adver­tis­ing Week pan­elist said audi­ences love it and engage with real-time con­tent when it is done right. Fur­ther, he also said not to lis­ten to detrac­tors who say there will nev­er be anoth­er Super Bowl black­out and he thinks con­sumers will actu­al­ly expect to see brands in their social con­ver­sa­tions in a few years.

In the “Be Bold, Be Engag­ing, or Be Gone: The Impor­tance of Real-Time Mar­ket­ing,” pan­el on Day 1 of Adver­tis­ing Week in New York, Chris Kerns, direc­tor of ana­lyt­ics and research at social mar­ket­ing plat­form Spred­fast, not­ed real-time mar­ket­ing doesn’t get a lot of love in the press – and it can cer­tain­ly go awry if not used effec­tive­ly – but there’s also plen­ty of data to back up its effec­tive­ness in reach­ing con­sumers when brands use it cor­rect­ly.

Example 1: The Beyonce Lift

Kerns used the exam­ple of pop star Beyonce’s 33rd birth­day on Sep­tem­ber 4. Fans world­wide used the hash­tag #Bey­Day to cel­e­brate, cre­at­ing a trend­ing top­ic.

In turn, elec­tron­ics retail­er Best Buy was inspired to tweet, “Is it too late to change our name to ‘Best Bey’ for the day? #bey­day.”

Not­ing this isn’t part of a Best Buy cam­paign and using words like “weird,” “sil­ly,” and “strange,” Kerns used this exam­ple to define real-time adver­tis­ing, say­ing, “It’s an estab­lished trend that is the cen­ter of atten­tion and brands jump­ing into the con­ver­sa­tion to get atten­tion for them­selves.”

Well-known exam­ples include Arby’s Phar­rell Williams tweet at the Gram­mys, Ellen’s Sam­sung self­ie dur­ing the Oscars and Oreo’s infa­mous Super Bowl black­out tweet.

And while some say real-time mar­ket­ing suc­cess is seen as a moon­shot and if brands can’t accom­plish that it’s prob­a­bly not worth it because they’ll look ridicu­lous and/or that real-time mar­ket­ing means brands are insert­ing them­selves into pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions where they don’t belong, Kerns observed all of the bad press real-time mar­ket­ing has received doesn’t have any actu­al data to back it up.

There’s lots of con­ver­sa­tion and no data,” Kerns said. “And I didn’t just cher­ry pick head­lines with no data about whether real-time mar­ket­ing works.”

If a brand’s con­nec­tion to con­sumers equals atten­tion and rel­e­vance, Kerns said brands must be where con­sumers are and get their atten­tion some­how and the mes­sage has to res­onate. And, he not­ed, real-time mar­ket­ing has both of those ele­ments.

To wit: Kerns said because Best Buy’s #Bey­Day tweet had no call to action, it’s safe to assume the brand was try­ing to engage its fol­low­ers and get reach and atten­tion.

The result? This par­tic­u­lar #Bey­Day tweet gen­er­at­ed 865 retweets and 533 favorites.

Look­ing at Best Buy’s last 3,200 tweets, Kerns said he exam­ined what was nor­mal for Best Buy for a typ­i­cal con­sumer-fac­ing tweet and dis­cov­ered the brand usu­al­ly gets 34 retweets and 31 favorites per tweet. In oth­er words, the brand was up 2,402 per­cent in retweets and 1,558 per­cent in favorites.

It doesn’t seem as sil­ly any­more,” Kerns added.

But he also went a step fur­ther and looked at retweet per­for­mance across ten brands for Beyonce’s birth­day and saw that 9 out of 10 had increased retweets and 8 out of 10 had increased favorites. What’s more, the aver­age retweet bump was 842 per­cent and the aver­age lift in favorites was 361 per­cent.

The audi­ence absolute­ly loves this and the audi­ence engages with con­tent,” he added.

Accord­ing to Kerns, adver­tis­ing and mar­ket­ing has his­tor­i­cal­ly been all about dis­rupt­ing con­sumer expe­ri­ences and dis­tract­ing them with celebri­ties or elab­o­rate sto­ry­lines. How­ev­er, real-time is the exact oppo­site: “Brands are drift­ing in as part of a con­ver­sa­tion and, when they do that, the audi­ence loves it and it makes sense,” he said.

In fact, Kerns also said in a few years, con­sumers will not only wel­come brands into their social con­ver­sa­tions, they will actu­al­ly expect brands there.

If you have a trend­ing top­ic and brands aren’t jump­ing in, peo­ple will be dis­ap­point­ed – that’s the expec­ta­tion in a few years,” Kerns said.

He divid­ed the world of real-time mar­ket­ing into a matrix that includ­ed both known and unknown top­ics, as well as big, planned events and trend­ing top­ics.

Planned events include the Oscars in which brands know a lot of infor­ma­tion about the event and can cre­ate con­tent ahead of time and still be con­sid­ered real-time mar­keters.

Oppor­tunis­tic events are unplanned moments, like Snick­ers’ tweet to Luis Suarez after bit­ing anoth­er play­er in a World Cup match. In this case, brands known an event is hap­pen­ing and have a team ready to respond.

Then there’s what Kerns called the “Bieber quad­rant,” in that an event is more or less a known quan­ti­ty because “we know he will do some­thing stu­pid” and so brands have to keep eye out.

And the final quad­rant includ­ed every­day events.

Kerns exam­ined whether real-time mar­ket­ing helped in any of these cas­es.

Example 2: Major Events

He looked at 56 brands dur­ing the Super Bowl, Gram­mys, Gold­en Globes and Oscars, find­ing more than 800 real-time tweets.

Kerns also found pos­i­tive results in 46 out of 56 brands and not­ed the aver­age brand saw a 360 per­cent bump in retweets.

Example 3: Royal Mania

When Prince William and Princess Kate announced they were expect­ing a sec­ond child, Nis­san was one of 14 U.K.-based brands to cap­i­tal­ize upon the event and Kerns said 12 saw per­for­mance bumps with an aver­age 400 per­cent increase.

He also found that suc­cess was not tied to a par­tic­u­lar sec­tor. I.e., many brands can suc­ceed with real-time mar­ket­ing.

Example 4: Following Apple

When Apple made its Apple Watch announce­ment in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber, restau­rant chain Chili’s tweet­ed about its own wear­able device, iGuac, which, Kerns not­ed, also had great results.

In fact, 13 out of 15 brands that jumped in on the Apple announce­ment saw an aver­age 1300 per­cent increase in retweets and a 940 per­cent increase in favorites. Those brands also include a diverse ros­ter, such as HTC, Mas­ter­Card, Denny’s and Zap­pos.

Did the audi­ence care?” Kerns asks of whether the brands had any tie to Apple or the announce­ment.

His answer? “No.”

Example 5: #BendGate

And when reports sur­faced that the new iPhone 6 had a bend­ing prob­lem, or #BendGate, 14 brands jumped in.

The result? These brands saw almost an aver­age 11,000 per­cent bump in retweets and a 5450 per­cent bump in favorites.

It’s ridicu­lous­ly good when done the right way,” he added.

But this doesn’t mean brands can just jump in on any old trend­ing top­ic.

Example 6: #ThoseThreeWords

Kerns used the exam­ple of anoth­er recent trend­ing top­ic, the hash­tag #ThoseThree­Words.

Accord­ing to his research, 30 brands jumped in and saw an aver­age 183 per­cent increase in retweets and 117 per­cent increase in favorites. Some brands, like Red­Box and Home­Goods, did quite well with their tweets.

But 17 of those brands, like But­terfin­ger and Swif­fer, did not.

But­terfin­ger, which tweet­ed, “Just bought But­terfin­ger!!!!” had 1 retweet; Swif­fer, which tweet­ed its slo­gan, had 4.

Kerns broke down all 30 brands and found the suc­cess­ful brands in this exam­ple led with the #ThoseThree­Words trend while the unsuc­cess­ful brands tried to hijack it with prod­uct place­ment.

You still need to do the work and do cre­ative,” Kerns said. “You can’t just hijack a trend.”

What’s your take on real-time mar­ket­ing? Is Kerns on the mon­ey? Or is he over­ly opti­mistic?

Lisa Lacy

Written by Lisa Lacy

Lisa is a senior features writer for Inked. She also previously covered digital marketing for Incisive Media. Her background includes editorial positions at Dow Jones, the Financial Times, the Huffington Post, AOL, Amazon, Hearst, Martha Stewart Living and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund.

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