Getting Ready for Real-Time Marketing Season

As we approach the New Year, we’re seeing plenty of talk about the best of 2014. Here at Spredfast, we too want to commemorate this year of awesomeness, but at the same time we're also planning ahead. 

As we’ve discussed over the past few months, real-time marketing isn’t just about big events. Brands have a very real opportunity to join social conversations that boost engagement and sharing by leveraging topics that are top of mind for their audience. And while RTM works for smaller events and daily trending topics, when January rolls around, so do some of the biggest events of the year. Last week’s announcement of the 2015 Golden Globes nominees was a great reminder that RTM Season is upon us—and you better start getting ready.

So today, I’ve put together a list of big events coming in the next few months. These are some of the larger sports and pop culture events that should be on your radar, but there are loads of other opportunities out there for brands to join trending conversations. Brands don’t need to jump on every trending topic or big event on the calendar, but modern, social brands need to be fully aware of every RTM opportunity that’s coming up and make a go/no-go decision for each. Don’t let any of the following events fly by you and your social team.

New Years Day (Thursday, January 1st)

New Years is two opportunities in one for marketers to share a message. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day can both serve as a solid opportunity to speak aspirationally with consumers, and to inspire your audience to make this year the best one yet.

Last year, Pinterest did a great job on Twitter (yes, you read that right) by kicking off 2014 with some words of wisdom. Their audience loved it, and because Pinterest was joining a relevant conversation that was already top of mind, they saw a huge increase in engagement from their followers. The New Year’s Tweet saw a bump of +1,443% in Retweets and +881% in Favorites vs. what Pinterest usually receives on Twitter.

College Football Madness

College Football Playoffs (Thursday, January 1st)
Rose Bowl Teams: Oregon & Florida State
Sugar Bowl Teams: Alabama & Ohio State

College Football National Championship (Monday, January 12th)
Teams: Unknown

As any sports fan will tell you, this is the first year that college football takes on the form of a playoff system that will finally settle, once and for all, all the controversy around the National Championship. Well, sort of.

With all this uncertainty, you can rest assured that the new playoff system will definitely bring about more real-time opportunities for brands to talk with their followers. The games this year should all get great ratings, and brands can be sure that talking about big games can provide big results for social performance.

Last year, Denny’s sent out a Tweet to Auburn fans (well, it was actually more for Florida State fans) after their loss in the National Championship and saw a huge bump in engagement for their real-time efforts. And by huge, I mean Denny’s enjoyed a 17,000% bump in Retweets and 11,000% bump in Favorites vs. their normal levels of social engagement.

Golden Globes (Sunday, January 11th)

Hosts: Tina Fey & Amy Poehler
Notable Nominees - Films: Boyhood, Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, Birdman, Grand Budapest Hotel, St. Vincent,
Notable Nominees - Actors: Steve Carell, Benedict Cumberbatch, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Keaton
Notable Nominees - Actresses: Emma Stone, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Jennifer Aniston, Felicity Jones

The Golden Globes serves as the Oscars irreverent sibling that shows up early, sneaks a flask into the party, and tells jokes your father pretends to get. The show is always a lot of fun, and is a great kickoff to the annual awards season. Each year, more and more brands are jumping in to the #GoldenGlobes conversation as the second screen buzzes with congratulations, excitement, and “Oh no, she did not wear THAT” conversations.

Last year, brands like Ralph Lauren, CitiBike, Moet, Bing, and Digiorno were all over the Golden Globes on Twitter, live-Tweeting the entire event for their followers to enjoy.

This Tweet from Digiorno, one of many posted that night, was well-received by the audience. It resulted in more than double the engagement performance for both Retweets and Favorites vs. what the brand usually sees.

NFL Playoffs

AFC Championship Game (Sunday, January 18th)
NFC Championship Game (Sunday, January 18th)
Super Bowl (Sunday, February 1st)

The NFL playoffs, and of course the Super Bowl, need no introduction. It’s not called “The Big Game” for nothing, and today, in addition to being the biggest annual sporting event in the U.S., the playoffs have also become a historical gridiron where marketers face off on broadcast (and now social media).

Last year’s big game saw all sorts of brands posting on social media, even though the game was a complete blowout. In fact, one of the brands that did the best job decided to talk about that trending topic (the blowout) by quickly integrating their message with a current campaign.

This simple tweet was a huge victory for the Buffalo Wild Wings social media team. The brand experienced an MVP-worthy reaction from the audience, with a +27,000% bump in Retweets and +11,279% bump in Favorites vs. what the brand usually sees in its social performance numbers.

GRAMMYs (Sunday, February 8th)

Host: not yet announced
Notable Nominees: Beyonce, Sam Smith, Pharrell, Iggy Azalea, Beck, Eric Church, Jay Z, Miranda Lambert, Sia, Jack White

Next up on the entertainment industry calendar is the GRAMMYs, the awards show that features celebrities, performances, and other timely topics that will keep the conversations flowing for days. This year, the show has already confirmed a huge list of popular performers that should have the social world buzzing.

While last year’s efforts were overshadowed by the ph-arrell-nomenal performance of Arby’s, there were plenty of other brands joining the conversation and seeing great RTM performance for their efforts, including Pepsi, Gucci, JC Penney, Mastercard, and Gain.

Burberry took a subtle (and effective) approach to RTM by highlighting celebrities wearing their threads. This Tweet, featuring Ed Sheeran, gave Burberry more than double the Retweets they usually see for their social content. Their audience had the GRAMMYs top-of-mind, and Burberry joined the right conversation at the right time.

Oscars (Sunday, February 22nd) 

Host: Neil Patrick Harris
Notable Nominees: not yet announced

The Oscars are the big dog of award shows—this is the show that can alter the careers, opportunities, and wallets of your favorites Hollywood stars. It’s also become one of the favorite shows for brands to jump in on trending conversations using Opportunistic RTM, with surprises, twists and turns at every step.

Last year, the Ellen selfie took the trophy for the biggest social impact at the show, but there were tons of other brands (including Nintendo, Bing, Prada, Disney, Intel, and Tiffany) that were successful as well. One brand Tweeting like crazy that night was MTV, and boy did their audience respond. More than 25 of their Tweets during the show receive more than 3X their normal level of Retweet performance.

One of their most popular Tweets of the night was a simple play-by-play about Jennifer Lawrence chowing down on pizza, which received a +1,689% bump in Retweets and +1,445% bump in Favorites vs. MTV’s normal levels of social engagement.

Let's Get it Started

As you can see, the RTM Season will be here before you know it, and once it kicks off, it won’t let up for a few months. Make sure you’re getting ahead of the game by prepping your team, your processes, your strategy, and your toolset. The whole key to real-time marketing is to be prepared for whatever comes your way, and to respond in an authentic manner that resonates with your audience.

Whether you have a one-person social shop or a full-on war room, resolve to prepare your brand for the next few months of real-time. See in you January!

Chris Kerns's picture

Chris Kerns

Chris Kerns has spent more than a decade defining digital strategy and is at the forefront of finding insights from digital data. He currently leads Analytics and Research at Spredfast. His research has appeared in The New York Times, Forbes, USA Today and AdWeek, among other publications.