Real-time Twitter Marketing: Preparing for the Surge by @mwilloughby1984

Despite the fractious nature of the British climate I am willing to wager that all of us have felt a certain lightening of the soul and spirit as the first signs of summer have arrived in dear old Blighty. The mingling scents of assorted flora are heightened by the balmy evening as we walk out of the front door and stroll into town for a glass of cider or white wine. The transition from spring into summer is my most beloved time of year for many reasons, but chief amongst all is the promise of an entire season of sport and all the things which come with it.

And many things do come with it. In the case of the British there are always certain stalwarts who accompany our sporting endeavours between the months of June and August. Alcohol in copious quantities. Degrees of pride and joy often offset by the inevitable degrees of heartache and sunburn. There is, however, a relative newcomer whose face will become a familiar sight as the major sporting tournaments and events progress this summer. He has been around for a while and has gathered quite a following; however he also thrives on drama and spectacle in equal measure, so it won’t surprise any of you to find him woven into the very fabric of this glorious sunny season.

His name is Real-Time Twitter Marketing (I blame the parents) and it looks like he is here to stay.

Ever since Oreo’s masterstroke at the 2013 SuperBowl, brands all over the globe have been dedicating time and money to mastering the art of real-time twitter marketing – and for good reason. Not only is it a very powerful way of extending your reach and increasing engagement amongst your existing followers, but it also gives brands the opportunity to break down the invisible barriers between them and their target audience. As the age-old saying goes “People do not buy from businesses, people buy from people” and personalisation has been something that many brands have struggled with, especially on Twitter.

So how do you use real-time twitter marketing to your advantage?

Be Relevant. Be Fast. Be Cheeky

A classic example of this is Berocca’s Tube Strike tweet. Topical and timely, they have cleverly used a frustrating and painful event to their advantage. Humour and audacity are human attributes and audiences engage with that!

Avoid Controversy

This may sound like teaching your Grandmother to suck eggs, but you would be AMAZED at some of the bone-headed and ill-judged tweets which brands have put out under the misguided belief that people will find it funny (check out the American Apparel example). Before you send anything out, think it through. Anything which involves bloodshed, natural disasters or missing children is DEFINITELY not suitable for this type of marketing.

Be Sensitive

This applies not only to my previous point, but also to your tone of voice when tweeting. No doubt there will be a vast number of instances where sportsmen and women who fall short, fall over or fall flat on their face. There is a difference between being cheeky and being snide. Sometimes it can be better to show your empathetic side rather than falling in with all the other Nelson Muntz’s online. Offering sympathy when everyone else is hooting derision could work in your favour.

Have an Easy Sign-Off Process

The quicker you are, the better! There is no point in coming up with a killer line on the spot if you can’t get it signed off quickly. By the time your line manager has given their approval someone else could have beaten you to it, or the moment has just simply passed. Plan for these eventualities and speed up your processes. Being fast and flexible will give you the best chance of success.

Utilise Creative

Tweets with image links get twice the engagement rate of those without, so if you can plan for certain eventualities and get your Creative team involved, you’ll be on to a winner. All of the best examples of real-time twitter marketing combine clever text and creative imagery. Check out Oreo’s twitter feed if you don’t believe me.

Those are the basics, but the most important things to remember are to be personal, use your common sense and do some planning. In all likelihood you will be seeing a lot of it this summer so to make your tweets stand out you are going to have to prepare for the surge. All businesses have a natural resource of spontaneous creativity, so harness it by empowering your social media team and streamlining your processes.

There are pitfalls which can easily be avoided if you prepare correctly and your brand could stand to massively benefit from this new form of marketing, but in my opinion the best thing is it is an opportunity to for your team to try something new which allows them to be innovative.

Empower your social media team to be creative and spontaneous. If you do it right and you can broaden your reach, boost your brand and increase engagement – and if your business is on Twitter for any other reasons than these three, then you are on Twitter for the wrong reasons.


Mike Willoughby is an Account Manager with @theblueballroom and freelance writer in film & music.

He tweets from @mwilloughby1984