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I hate to bring up Oreos because it’s so 2013. But ever since that sad day in January 2013 (when my heart was broken because I’m a die-hard 49ers fan), brands have attempted to steal the spotlight from cultural and societal events using real-time marketing.

Many have failed.

And the brands that have been lucky enough to capture the hearts and minds of consumers that use social media have barely seen marginal results.

The recipe for real-time marketing today isn’t really that smart and it’s fairly easy to do. Here is the general approach that many brands are taking today. 

  1. They are building teams: Building a newsroom organization is smart because it ensures that the right team members are ready to play their part when the news cycle calls for it.
  2. They are creating stories: Crafting an editorial framework that aligns with laser focused content themes and also highlights what the brand is comfortable talking about online.
  3. They are investing in technology: Many brands are using software platforms like SocialFlow, Dachis or Trendspottr and identify what’s trending within specific categories (fashion, sports, fitness, health, etc.)

The problem with the above framework is that brands are using it to try and be everything to everyone, taking a “one size fits all” approach. Monitoring for "what’s trending" or what’s about to trend within a very large, very diverse data set on the Internet is not a good strategy. It's not sustainable long term.

I get it though. Everyone wants their Super Bowl moment. It happens in advertising and now on Twitter. 

But in order for real-time content to be more effective, more relevant and more impactful, there is a key component missing in this formula, data. Smart brands are monitoring very specific audiences that fall within a very specific profile (millennials, IT Decision Makers, CIOs, etc.) and monitoring their consumption and sharing behavior. They are using this data to build very tailored, very agile and very targeted content for these specific groups.

This approach is cost effective because brands are creating less real-time content. It's smarter because the content itself is more relevant and targeted. And it just makes more business sense ... at least to me. 

Lastly, real-time content should only be a very small percentage of a content strategy. Brands can't just sit idle and wait for the news cycle before creating content of epic proportions. They should be doing this day in and day out.