The fantasy of real-time marketing

Let's face it: Even in a world with social media platforms where posts go viral in minutes, real-time marketing hardly exists. Rather, replace the word "real time" with "precisely planned" and "perfectly executed." The right mix of time, platform and content is the crucial key to success.

So, how can a business master the game of real-time marketing?

Take (planned) risks

Even brands with the necessary resources and war rooms are prepared for the unexpected. Let's take JC Penney's Superbowl stunt last year, pretending to tweet drunk and getting a huge piece of the traffic. Or Adidas, conquering the World Cup with a very well planned campaign, pushing official sponsors like Nike to the side. The success factor for both was their ability to seed prepared stories at the right time. They took risks, but it was far from real-time marketing.

Be prepared

Research shows that 42% of users contacting a brand on social media expect a response within less than one hour. Meaning that if you don't manage to react within a timeframe of 60 minutes, you’ve failed. Brands need to be prepared, have a conversation plan, Social Media FAQs and direct contacts of all departments in dealing with customer issues. This can take some time but will pay off in the long term. Being able to react on-the-fly has to be learned.  

Master speed

As mentioned above, time, place and content are essential for real-time marketing. In order to truly master your brand's reaction time, you need to understand all three of them. How? By listening. Set up alerts for social media spikes, understand the ecosystem of each social media platform and follow your fans’ conversations. Two really great tools that can help you with that are IFTTT and Alertio.


Against the common understanding of real-time marketing, in reality, on-the-fly often means preparation, planning and execution at the right time, and with the right platform content.