David Armano is managing director of Edelman Digital. Follow him on Twitter @armano.
Real-time content marketing isn’t a fad; it’s a new twist on advertising that is born out of necessity. Advertising has always been about remaining culturally relevant, and a brand can’t do that when millions of people are all talking about the same thing and a brand is either nowhere to be found or talking about something else. Nobody wants to come off as socially awkward, especially in an age where social networks are so influential to culture.
Still, as a practitioner in this space, I think brands have a long way to go if they want to become the next Oreo, Red Bull or (insert real-time content marketing case study here). It’s time for a reality check. Does your brand have a process that looks part like a newsroom and part advertising? There are a few obstacles brands need to overcome if they’re serious about being relevant in a content- driven economy.
Get Rid of the Lawyers
So you want to put out content at the same exact time that the best picture is announced? Good luck getting it approved by legal in time. Legal teams are designed to avoid risk, even if there’s no true risk involved. Brands have to learn how to manage risk through leadership, accountability and streamlining process by involving executives who know what to look for as content is produced on the fly. In short, common sense will need to trump the formal legal process.
Get A Budget
You want a creative team in place on a Sunday night outside of office work hours? It’s going to cost you. You’ll need a solid writer, art director, creative director and skin in the game directly from your in-house team. You might need a video editor or a producer to keep everything flowing. This all costs money. Yes, you can do it on the cheap, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to get noticed or shared. Sharp wit, a compelling image and an on-the-fly marketing plan are likely not going to come from your intern but instead from a team who knows the brand and culture of your audience.
Let’s say legal isn’t a problem and you’ve got a budget. You’ve also got four agencies splitting up responsibilities across digital, social, public relations and media. They need to coordinate — and you need to make this happen. You’re going to find that even with the coordination, there is going to be inefficiency. If one of your agency partners comes up with a fantastic, time-sensitive-related image and you can’t get your media working in real time to support it, then you’re not going to be able to move quickly enough.
Get a (Direct) Audience
For years, industry “experts” have pondered the value of Facebook fans and followers on Twitter and, more recently, building a base on emerging platforms like Instagram. A direct audience means just that; you can go right to the source without a middleman. Real-time marketing requires having direct audience access both at scale (in the millions) and of quality (highly engaged). Without a base audience in place that’s significant, even the most timely and relevant (and creative) content will go un-noticed.
Get Used To It
Many of you will dismiss this as a passing fad. It’s healthy to be skeptical, especially when it comes to marketing. We are obsessed with the “next big thing” and constantly chasing the dragon in order to remain relevant. But put on your anthropological hat for a moment. When we walk the streets or take a train we see people tied to their mobile devices. Our media consumption looks more like a constant state of “snacking” vs. sitting down for one or two big meals for a day. It is now the job of a CMO to meaningfully insert the brand into these “snackable” moments. This is simply a part of the new advertising — and as always, it’s driven by human behavior.
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