Real Time Content Marketing OreoReal-time is a buzzword that’s been increasing in velocity around the marketing and journalism industries of late. It refers to the speed at which content hits the market. Back in the days of yore, when newspapers were the primary dispersers of current event news, journalists had the length of time between publications to prepare their reports. Moreover, it would have taken them half that time just to collect all of the details to fuel each story. Today, though, everyone – not just journalists – is capable of accessing the latest and greatest (and not so great) available information about everything under the sun via, dun dun dunnnn, the Internet. It’s amazing, it really is, that a society’s core functionality can change so much in so little time all because of one small (ok, big) invention. Anyway, here we are. There’s no going back. The Internet is here to stay. And therefore, so is real-time.

The Reality of Real Time

The Internet has become the fount of information as we know it: updated to the second, on-demand, socially relayed, 140-characters, and largely cat-related. Newspapers have struggled to make profits competing in this environment, while amateur lip-synchers have been receiving more than their fair share of traffic via YouTube.  In fact, the Internet itself has become a source of news, turning out viral sensations like the Harlem Shake and becoming a venue for pranks of all kinds from Rickrolling to more serious stuff like last week’s Twitter account hacks.

The journalists of today include anyone who’s plugged in and sharing relevant content online, while everyone else curates that news by consuming it and deciding whether or not to recommended it via tweet, like, or +1, creating the “long-tail” of content floating around on the web. Corporate marketers, incentivized to drive traffic, have adopted the concept of content marketing to take advantage of this evolution in the news industry; with greater resources, their content often enjoys a greater online reach than amateur productions vying for the same recommendations.

The concept of real-time deemphasizes the advertising campaign as the sole means of giving voice to a brand, and requires the brand to embody its character at all times across all media. Real-time recognizes content as not merely video advertisement, but instead acknowledges that anything which comes out of a company’s mouth ultimately reflects its brand image and shapes its personality. The Internet is blurring the lines between advertising and public relations, marketing and journalism.  In a plugged-in world, the brand is not just a representation of a company – it comes to life as a commentator responding to real-time events in the public sphere to build relationships in the virtual space.

A Case Study

In the past few weeks, businesses have been stepping up their real-time marketing game, using a succession of televised Sunday mega events (Super Bowl, Grammys, Oscars) and holidays as public points of interest to which they can relate their brands in real-time.

One brand that appears to have mastered the concept of real-time marketing is Oreo Cookies. From its controversial rainbow Oreo supporting gay pride to its 100-day “Daily Twist” campaign last year, the brand has been committed to using the digital space to engage with its audience, seeing its numbers rise steadily since. In the last few weeks, Oreo has been getting a lot of attention from marketers as a role model for real-time marketing.

Kicking off with its response to the Super Bowl blackout, here is a quick review of Oreo’s best real-time tweets over the past month (keeping in mind that the brand shares content across multiple channels):

The Super Bowl:

The Grammys:

Mardi Gras:

Valentine’s Day:

Throwback Thursday:

The Oscars:

Oreo’s real-time digital marketing efforts have paid off. Oreo’s Super Bowl blackout tweet was re-tweeted 15,811 times and accrued 19,610 Facebook likes within the first hour.  In February of 2011 they were the Guiness Book of World Records awarded them with the record of most “likes” on a Facebook post within 24 hours. Since then, they have double their number of Facebook fans from 16 million at the beginning of 2011, to 32 million today.

What SMBs Can Learn

“Real-time” and “content marketing” are two new concepts to the advertising world, but as long as the Internet is still around, these two staples also need to be integrated into any business’s marketing agenda.

By observing Oreo’s successful marketing tactics, we can begin to understand real-time as not a principle strictly relatable to the newsroom, but loosely. Brands still want to develop advertising campaigns in order to tie their messages together and keep audiences engaged in new ways. More than ever, though, today’s campaigns represent the brand’s overarching persona. This persona defines how the brand will act and react in real-time. Say’s Oreo’s Brand Director, Janda Lukin, “we will continue to look for ways to grow and expand in [the digital] area – always keeping the filter of looking at the world through the eyes of Oreo.”

Another well-received tactic is Oreo’s abundance of visual content. The brand has been making art out of its cookies for two years, and fans haven’t gotten bored yet! While the idea of playing with your Oreos is old, the company has learned how to repurpose it again and again to continue creating fresh, timely, and relevant content, inviting all Oreo fans to join in. In fact, Oreo is currently orchestrating a cookie or crème campaign in which it has artists sculpting Instagram pictures its fans send in. In these ways, Oreo encourages engagement by making cookie production simple and fun for consumers.

As you can see through these campaigns, Oreo has employed the use of several social media platforms in an integrated fashion. The company’s brand message is the same across all media, and its reason for using each is clear. Oreo picks and chooses which media to use according to which strategic engagement campaigns it is coordinating. The company avoids social channels it doesn’t need and makes sure to actually use the ones it is on.

In order to replicate these tactics successfully, your brand must begin by doing some soul searching. To operate seemingly seamlessly in the real-time environment, you or your marketing marketing team needs to align communication styles with brand values. Content marketing campaigns can be built on this foundation to create conversations from scratch. Your brand can use real-time marketing to monitor the digital environment, and respond to it “through the eyes” of your brand’s character. Bring all of this together and you’ve got integrated digital marketing.