Real Time Social Media – Capitalizing on Trending Topics

Social Media Marketing MascotReal time social media is one of the newest emerging fields of Internet marketing. Social media marketing in real time is sometimes called newsjacking. Even though newsjacking has a negative connotation, the act of capitalizing on trending topics in the media is not negative when done correctly. As technology advances and tracking hashtags through social media becomes easier and more prevalent, real time marketing will continue to grow.

The Hashtags are the Key

Twitter has had hashtags for many years now and is the revolutionary social channel for trending topics. For a long time, people have been able to turn to Twitter to see what everyone is talking about in different countries, regions, and cities. Google Plus and Facebook also list their trending topics in real time. In some cases, a trending topic can be predicted and somewhat planned by a marketing team. It is very important to do your research and know why a word or keyword set is trending and the golden rule is to not piggy back on a trending topic, which is in bad taste.

When Real Time Social Media Goes Wrong

There have been quite a few prominent cases where companies have made some severe mistakes trying to newsjack or piggy back on a trending topic such as social media. Companies large and small have gotten into trouble by using trending hastags in bad form. One of the main problems is that when tweets are scheduled ahead of time and the social media manager either forgets or does not have time to stop it before it is too late. Some social media disasters could have been avoided by doing a quick search on a trend.

This tweet, following the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, is a prime example of this:

#Aurora Tweet

Recommended for YouWebcast: The Art of Community Development: Turning Brand Awareness Into Sales

Photo Credit: Mashable

Another unfortunately common social media snafu occurs when the person managing the account for a company accidentally posts a tweet to the wrong account. That was the case with a KitchenAid employee who meant to post a tweet on a personal account. The tweet was sent out during the Presidential election and was discovered because they used the hashtag #NBCPolitics. It was removed quickly and might have even gone unnoticed had they not used a hashtag. KitchenAid quickly posted an apology to their Twitter account.

@BarakObama Tweet

Photo Credit: Mashable

Insensitivity during natural disasters has become another problem for companies that try to turn it into a sales opportunity. Perhaps the companies did not realize that the storm was as bad as it was; however, it is never a good idea to broadcast something like what American Apparel and The Gap did during Hurricane Sandy.

#Sandy Tweet

Photo Credit: Mashable

Sandy Storm Ad

Photo Credit: Mashable

Real Time Social Media Done Right

Real time social media marketing has been around for many years, but it has gained popularity over the last year. Many say that the real time social media revolution began with Oreo’s famous Tweet during the Super Bowl blackout. In a combination of luck, cleverness, and timing, their marketing team sent out a tweet during the unplanned blackout of the Superbowl. Sure, they were on tap planning to try to capitalize on the trending topic of the Superbowl. However, when the blackout occurred and plenty of bored viewers took to Twitter, a new trending hashtag emerged. Oreo launched this brilliant Tweet:

Oreo Cookie Ad

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

The Tweet immediately got attention for Oreo in social media as this made a bigger impression on cookie fans than their $2 million Super Bowl commercial did. The media play they received for the Tweet has grown exponentially, if for no other reasona than articles such as this one praising their marketing prowess and cleverness. They are not the only ones who gained popularity for social media during the Superbowl, and since the Superbowl, every other large media event has seen companies piggy backing on the trending topic in an effort to gain attention, boost branding, and increase sales.

Oscar Mayer launched a real time marketing campaign on Twitter during The Oscar Awards Ceremony broadcast with the intention of making the connection between the name similarities.

Oscar Mayer Tweet

Photo Credit: Adage

The Oscars was the first major television event after the Superbowl, so everyone was on high alert to see if anyone could reproduce Oreo’s success on capturing the real time trending topic gusto. It was so popular that OscarsRTM (Real Time Marketing) was even a trending topic at one point during the broadcast.

Real Time Marketing Lessons Learned and Takeaways

  • Try to spark thought and engage conversation: Instead of conversing, cause conversations to happen.

  • Invoke Emotion: Always connect on an emotional level. When you make them feel something, they will react, retweet, and engage.

  • Embrace Creativity and Spontaneity: Planning only goes so far. Brain storm and collect ideas. However, do not let this process take too long; that chance at your moment in the spotlight is very fleeting.

  • Meld Your Brand and the Event: This is often the tricky part. Forced Tweets come off as fake, silly, or just do not make sense.

  • Do not expect everything to work: Just because you had success with one campaign does not mean they will all work. Throw a few good ideas up and see what sticks. Continue testing and innovating.


Real time social media can be an extremely effective tool for your business. It is critical that you pay close attention to what other people are hot about and that you jump in and take full advantage of what is trending and that you do it in the most effective way possible. As has always been the case, you must keep your finger on the pulse and make sure that you are the first to come out with new, exciting, valuable ideas that other people will embrace.

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