Is-Content-Missing-Context-The-Real-Time-Marketing-Complex-Blog-Image-ResizedWith the flip of a switch and a well-crafted tweet, the Super Bowl blackout of 2013 became the day that real-time marketing took over the social media stage.

But now as this growing trend has saturated just about every major brand on twitter…has its big moment finally come to an end?

While many are saying yes, I say we’re not even close.

Ever since the infamous Oreo blackout tweet, real-time marketing has had brands scrambling to find their piece of content gold…and frankly it has been getting a bit out of hand.

Not because it’s a trend that is just growing out of style, but because it’s become a tool that is being used and abused by brands creating content without context.
The biggest stage for this misuse? The 2014 Super Bowl.

Instead of brands creating relevant and engaging content for their community, many insisted on creating conversation with other major brands. Conversations that had no actual relation to their audience or to the game that was taking place.

While the brand feuds continued to build, JCPenny thought it would be clever to become “drunk” with typos that were revealed to be “hacks” for attention. Did they miss the memo from MTV & Chipotle that people don’t fall for these staged messes?

Go Team USA? Wait a minute…aren’t both teams from the USA?  Why isn’t this being used for the Olympics? How is it possible to be tweeting with mittens?  

Oh right…because the massive amount of unwanted attention with tweeting gibberish is more important than creating trusted and relevant content that builds your brand’s community. To make matters worse, these unfocused conversations happened so frequently throughout the game that multiple pages of a tumblr account are composed entirely of them. Oy Vey. But thankfully not all hope is lost.


Quick and witty, Arby’s massively successful Grammy’s tweet displayed the proper use of three major components of real-time marketing success:

1. Simplicity The tweet wasn’t prepared weeks in advance, but rather it did what real-time marketing should do, become developed and posted in a matter of minutes as the events unfolded.

2. Context That ridiculous hat worn by Pharrell actually looked like the Arby’s logo…and was quite hilarious.

3. Value Whether it be humorous or educational, providing value is the key component to a successful piece of real-time marketing content! The Arby’s tweet not only provided humor that was directly connected to the Grammy’s, but it received support from the actual musician himself.


Despite the growing sea of disconnected content, there are still brands that do understand the purpose and opportunity behind providing additional (yet related) value with real-time marketing:

Post by Gap.

Why are all these examples important? Because they follow The Golden Rule: Don’t Sacrifice Context for Content! It’s simply not enough to post about a major event just because everyone else is doing it. It needs to have relatable context, additional value, and provide a direct connection with the event taking place. Because of the basic nature of social interactions I don’t see real-time marketing disappearing anytime soon, but rather brands having to think twice about exactly why they’re talking in the first place.