Yesterday I posted a snarky but honest blog post about the very real threat to brands that set out to do "real-time marketing" (RTM) during events such as the Super Bowl. I predicted that although a few brands will make headlines with some snappy and well-timed Super Bowl tweets, most brands that engage in RTM this Sunday will damage relationships and harm reputation with spammy, self-absorbed tweets more akin to advertising than dialog.

I thought I would devise some tips for brands that intend to launch RTM efforts during the Super Bowl. I realize this blog post is a week or two too late, but perhaps these suggestions can help a few social media marketers to avoid a painful or embarrassing mistake tomorrow night.

While I have a list of ten tips, if I was going to give just one tip, it would be this: Don't do RTM during the Super Bowl. I know, every brand wants to be Oreo (whose "dunk in the dark" post has become the gold standard of RTM) or Arby's (whose Pharrell's hat tweet "won" the Grammys), but the fact is that RTM remains a dangerous tactic. Brands attempting to hijack consumer conversation about the Super Bowl should not be surprised if their customers resent the advertising-like intrusion.

Even if you "succeed," that impact will be modest at best. It can be easy to get swept up into the excitement of retweets and shares, but those are not true measures of business success. With 87,000 retweets and over a million impressions, the Arby's tweet was certainly a social media success, but how many of you have been to Arby's for a sandwich since seeing the brand's tweet? Having a funny tweet retweeted is not the same as creating a meaningful brand impression, increasing purchase intent or acquiring a customer.

If your brand absolutely must tweet and post during the Super Bowl, here are ten tips to help it improve engagement and minimize the risks:

  1. Don't brag that you have a "newsroom" staffed during the event. No one cares that your marketing team is poised to inject themselves into their social conversations.
      
  2. Don't insert your brand into every post/tweet during the Super Bowl. Let your intent speak louder than your content.
      
  3. During the Super Bowl, don't robo-tweet identical tweets to numerous different people. That's just annoying.
      
  4. Don't pathetically ask for retweets. Your brand should earn shares, not beg for them.
      
  5. During the event, talk with people. Don't just broadcast to them. Listen--really listen. Don't just make "engaging in their conversation" a euphemism for spam; be real about it.
      
  6. I know you want to get noticed and have your brand appear in the Twitter searches consumers will be using during the game, but avoid inserting consumers' hashtags into your branded posts. Don't be Super spammy during the Super Bowl.
      
  7. During the event, if you have nothing pertinent to say, shut up. Don't tweet just because you want impressions. Be relevant or be quiet.
      
  8. If you intend to (or must) stick to a pre-approved library of Super Bowl tweets, considering packing up and heading home. Spontaneity matters, but...
      
  9. Even though spontaneity matters, have multiple eyes on your Super Bowl tweets. Don't inadvertently embarrass the brand because one community manager fails to realize they are posting something that others may consider offensive or insensitive. Make it a real-time team effort!
      
  10. Don't tweet both personally and for your brand during Super Bowl. Focus--if you're working, then dedicate your full attention to the professional task at hand. Moreover, avoid the mistake of tweeting to the wrong account, a mistake that has cost more than a handful of social media marketers their jobs. 
All of these tips can be summed up in this way: Remember that consumers' social conversations are not a marketing channel, no matter what your CMO thinks. You wouldn't interrupt two strangers talking on the street to yell, "Hey, our brand is really funny and you should eat our burgers!" Approach your RTM with the same respect for others' conversations that you would in any real-life social situation, and your brand will minimize the risks and avoid mistakes. 
 
On Monday, I believe we will be talking as much about the RTM failures and embarrassments as the successes. Follow these tips, and your brand is more likely to be among the latter than the former.