The average person is bombarded by more than 1,000 brand impressions daily. Consumers tune out most of these impressions because they don’t find them relevant or useful, but this does nothing to stem the constant flow of digital clutter clogging up our feeds.
Social channels offer brands the opportunity to foster positive consumer relationships that can set them apart by providing relevant, entertaining content. Brands must use a combination of timing, strategy, and effort to make their impressions stick, and this can be accomplished via real-time engagement.
What Is Real-Time Engagement?
Real-time engagement is how brands interact with consumers to provide relevant information across digital channels in near real time. This type of engagement encourages consumers to interact directly with brands (and vice versa), allowing consumers to find answers to their questions or receive instantaneous customer support.
Real-time engagement has become increasingly important for brands’ social media presence. The frenzied pace of life and the attention-based economy makes it more difficult for companies and brands to attract consumer attention. However, people are keenly interested in information that pertains to whatever they find important; when it’s about them, they are captivated.
Why Is Real-Time Engagement Important?
Seizing the moment with real-time engagement is essential. With nearly three billion active websites and the endless stream of content on social networks, something more interesting (and the competition) is just a click away. Additionally, the rapid adoption of social media has altered consumers’ expectations of customer service. Brands must maintain an “always on” mentality, responding to consumer inquiries, complaints, and compliments as quickly as possible.
Effective real-time engagement requires a robust social media presence with a strong follower/fan base, professional-grade social media monitoring tools, and a trained social media team. Real-time engagement encourages consumers to interact directly with brands by utilizing timely, relevant content that’s appealing.
Lessons From Real-Time Social Success
When it comes to real-time engagement, many brands have grasped the need for dedicated social teams and sophisticated monitoring software to watch our “always on” social climate. Procter & Gamble has more than 180 different Old Spice digital assets that are ready to tap into and modify for newsworthy events — all so relevant content can be posted quickly on social media. Dell’s social media monitoring software blows most other programs out of the water, and its monitoring teams are dedicated to each social network.
One brand that has become famous for its clever, real-time response is Nabisco Oreo. Oreo’s “Dunk in the Dark” campaign set a benchmark for real-time engagement.
After the power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans during the 2013 Super Bowl, the Oreo team created a good-natured ad on the fly that became an instant pop culture sensation. Oreo sent out the tweet: “Power out? No problem. YOU CAN STILL DUNK IN THE DARK.” After the tweet was sent out, #DunkInTheDark was retweeted more than 14,000 times. Nabisco’s success shows that having a strong social media team, listening to consumer conversations in real time, and good timing are a recipe for success.
Real-Time Social Disasters
In their efforts to piggyback on trends in real time, some brands — like Gap and Kenneth Cole — have become infamous for their social slip-ups. These brands failed at real-time engagement with insensitive tweets regarding Hurricane Sandy (Gap) and the riots in Cairo (Kenneth Cole).
Online retailer Celeb Boutique posted one of the most horrific examples of failed real-time engagement in July 2012. Approximately 12 hours after the Aurora movie theatre shooting, Celeb Boutique sent out the tweet: “#Aurora is trending, clearly about our Kim K inspired #Aurora dress Shop: celebboutique.com/aurora-white-p…” Within an hour of posting its tweet, the evidence of Celeb Boutique’s ignorance had been retweeted more than 700 times.
Celeb Boutique’s Aurora tweet received scathing international media coverage, and one article stated, “…their social media department is full of ignorant, insensitive yahoos.” The retailer’s lack of research and haste caused the brand to become associated with a heinous crime, and the tweet labeled the brand as extraordinarily unsympathetic.
These brands’ stories are solid examples of how important real-time engagement is to a company’s reputation. They also show the value of having a skilled and competent social media team.
Whether the goal of real-time engagement is to improve customer care, enhance brand loyalty, or drive sales, it has everything to do with timing and good judgment. Pre-made content and planning also contribute to this success. Brands must strategically aim and launch content so that it sticks with consumers and cuts through the social media clutter.
Because this article was published, a donation will be made to Reading Is Fundamental so a book can be given to a child.