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How about IHOP’s recent IHOB renaming disaster?

Talk about a fiasco… or was it?

How can companies capitalize on “hot mess expresses” like the IHOB campaign to help grow their traffic and potentially even go viral?

I did a little digging, and discovered that this kind of already exists: it’s called real-time marketing.

You guys, I learned a new word— and you’re about to as well!

You might be familiar with the strategy of “newsjacking,” where brands piggyback on the latest news stories to push their own agendas.

Real-time marketing is kind of like that…but also not really.

Let’s Jump Back to IHOP’s PR Disaster

Some say, “there is no such thing as bad publicity.”

Well when it came to IHOP’s recent epic fail Tweet, the breakfast empire received some harsh backlash that was indeed— kind of bad.

After IHOP tried to announce a playful change of their name to “IHOB,” or the “International House of Burgers,” to announce they now served burgers, people were confused (which is not a good place for your consumer to be).

Other restaurant entity’s like Burger King and Wendy’s took to Twitter to blast IHOP, and it only took a few hours for other brands to hop onto the social mockery bandwagon.

Was IHOP’s message delivered tactfully? Maybe not.

But did people talk about it for days? You bet your tush they did.

Pop-Tarts was genius to take the opportunity to relate with consumers, in real time:

They still stayed within brand, but added a bit of humor to get some new followers or delight their current audience.

Obviously it wasn’t in their quarterly marketing strategy to post this, but that’s the charm of real-time marketing!

Be like Pop-Tarts.

Think on your feet and join the conversation.

How Can I Make it Work with My Current Marketing Strategy?

If you are already kicking ass and taking names with your current strategy— or even if you aren’t, it’s rather simple to incorporate real-time interactions into your repertoire.

It just requires some creativity, a good sense of humor and some scrolling to catch current events.

Believe it or not, there are ways you can plan for real-time interactions in advance.

For example, we have known the World Cup was coming for years now! Sadly, Team USA did not make the cut this year, but there are other teams you can latch onto!

If you’re rooting for the underdog, make your campaign all about that by leveraging emotion around being the unrecognized, yet still awesome competitor.

Everyone wants the clumsy kid to end up being the ultimate forward who scores all the goals!

Lean into all the emotions on all the platforms.

When other IHOBs happen, you and your marketing team will need to prepared to drop everything and get something out there ASAP to engage and take advantage of this viral moment.

These opportunities won’t happen everyday, so be sure you give your social teams the creative flow needed to bob and weave from their carefully created strategy and engage with HUMANS.

It’s not just about Twitter and Facebook here! You should use all of your marketing platforms within your current strategy to deliver your message.

But remember, be true to your brand during this real time opportunities! Let your freak flag fly, if that’s your thing. Or use dry humor to engage your audience if you live in that box.

The Benefits of Real-Time Marketing

Most brands want and need to stay relevant in their buyer’s minds.

By taking on real-time marketing as a strategy, you will without a doubt get these key benefits below:

  • Organic traffic – Grow that rank baby! Raise your hand if you would like to get on the first page of google results? Yeah— we all do! Getting involved in viral conversations and gaining more traffic visits to your site help you grow your presence — and at a very low cost.
  • Relevancy – Get outside of your four walls and join the global community. Staying in the current conversation will be sure to keep your brand top of mind and on trend.
  • Brand authenticity – Be you, boo boo. That’s what drew in your customer in the first place. People hate fake, so use your tone and stay on brand while joining in on the real-time marketing fun.
  • Human-to-human connection – As Vince Vaughn taught us in Wedding Crashers, “People helping people, it’s powerful stuff.” This really all comes down to talking to your audience where they are, and showing that your brand has heart and is made up of real humans! If we can connect to each other more on this level, brand loyalty will surely grow. It’ll help attract more loyal followers too.
  • Use your platform – For good— not evil, of course! It’s human nature to want to connect with like-minded people. So speak up and have some fun with it.


Don’t Be Scared!

Dive in head first.

You know your tone of voice and your personas, so talk to them. Engage with them!

Get out of your comfy scheduled zone and join us all out there in the Twittersphere.