When Germany obliterated Brazil at the World Cup this week, companies were quick to join the conversation. “Somebody give #BRA some wings!” wrote Red Bull. DiGiorno Pizza tweeted,“#ThingMoreLikelyThanBrazilWinningTheWorldCup CM Punk coming back #RAW.”
Clearly, companies haven’t given up on real-time marketing. This despite the fact that there are very few examples of successful real-time marketing so far, with Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet being an obvious example.
Despite its popularity, real-time marketing is failing, and the Brazil-Germany match is the latest proof of this. During the game, most brands trolled Brazil for its stunning collapse. But while some of the tweets were funny (admittedly, I liked this one from Pornhub: “Please stop uploading the game highlights to Pornhub…Our public humiliation category is full.”)—most of the brand tweets fell short. Audi and Volkswagen USA both tried pimping their products out, but the tweets were not particularly clever or original. Tesco resorted to a German-related pun, writing, “Well, this is wurst case scenario for Brazil.” Even Visa’s tweet felt forced.
— Visa (@Visa) July 8, 2014
It’s easy to see why companies want to participate in real-time marketing: When big events happen, people are on Twitter and companies want to join the conversation. But as many World Cup tweets show, most real-time marketing efforts fail on two important fronts: building genuine relationships with customers and building the brand.
Most real-time marketing efforts fail because they don’t build relationships and they don’t build the brand. (CLICK TO TWEET)
5 tips for real-time marketing success
My theory is that most brands do not need to participate in real-time marketing unless the event is closely tied to the company. But let’s face it: many multi-billion companies will chime in come World Cup finals.
If you’re thinking about real-time marketing, I suggest following these tips:
1. Make it authentic.
Authenticity is key in marketing success, including in real-time marketing. Be authentic about the spirit of the event, but also make sure that you’re speaking the language of your audience.
To be authentic during real-time events, you really need to know your audience. Engage customers in advance (and regularly) to understand their values, the media they consume, and the type of content that resonate with them. Consistent customer engagement is the first step in getting real-time marketing right.
And don’t forget to be authentic with your brand. Don’t force it. If there’s a genuine way your company can join the conversation, then do so. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong with keeping quiet during big events. Remember: Most people are on social media to talk to friends and family. They’re not there to seek out brand messaging. There’s a time for everything—including a time to shut up and just let people talk to each other.
When doing real-time marketing, be authentic to the spirit of the event and to what your brand stands for. (CLICK TO TWEET)
2. Add insight, not noise.
Jay Baer, one of my favorite marketing bloggers, once argued that marketers should be thinking about real-time marketing in the same way as QR codes. This is because most real-time marketing efforts do not add value: they simply parrot publicly available information.
Live-tweeting facts from the event doesn’t offer insight; it just adds to the noise. So, what’s a better approach?
How about telling people something they don’t already know? Share fascinating stats during the event. Provide original commentary. Just make sure the insight is interesting and that somehow, it’s true to your brand. Do that and people are more likely to pay attention.
Key to real-time marketing success: Add insight, not noise. (CLICK TO TWEET)
3. Make people part of it.
While it’s important to keep your social media updates brand-relevant, don’t forget that it’s not about you or your products. It’s actually about the event and the people experiencing it.
“[Offering] statistics really helps, and making consumers feel part of the action, giving them a voice,” said Tim Collins, UK managing director at sponsorship agency Octagon, at a recent panel. For Collins, companies need to enhance people’s experience, not distract from it.
Involving the audience is a great way of enhancing people’s experience. Ask for their input, do real-time polls, or RT some interesting tweets from other people.
Going viral means nothing, so don’t use set that as your goal. Use real-time marketing to build a community instead of just blasting out another mundane tweet about your product.
4. Do something unique. Shortly after the Brazil-Germany game, Sony Experia created a Vine video that recapped the Brazil-Germany match. It’s a cool Lego video that has been re-tweeted thousands of times.
Admittedly, I’m not sure what that said Lego animation has to do with the Sony phone, but there’s a lesson here: If you do something cool and unique, it will help your company stand out during these events.
Yes, being unique will take some time and resources. But given that many companies now participate in real-time marketing on social media, you really have to commit to it if you want to stand out.
5. Be clever, not mean.
Many of the brand tweets during the Brazil-Germany match were borderline mean. Yes, people on Twitter expect snark, but there’s a fine line between being funny and being insensitive. Some brands achieved the latter.
A more straightforward approach works sometimes. Adidas, for example, sent a simple tweet congratulating Germany for its win. It’s a nice tweet, but it also benefits the brand since Adidas is the kit sponsor for Germany.
Doing real-time marketing? Be clever, not mean. (CLICK TO TWEET)
Speed is of essence in real-time marketing, but take a few seconds to think about the update you’re about to send out. Get a colleague or your boss to double check your tweets. Also, avoid the mob mentality: don’t make fun of people just because others are doing it. Be human, and be smart.
When Argentina and Germany meet for the World Cup final this Sunday, many brands will once again try to join the conversation. Here’s hoping the tweets (and the game) will be a lot better than what we’ve seen on Tuesday.
What do you think of companies tweeting during live events? Leave a comment below or tweet me at @kcclaveria.
A version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn.