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How Businesses Can Embrace a Real-Time Social Media Marketing Approach (and Why it Should)

It was the tweet heard ‘round the world. In 2013, when the lights went out during Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo sent out this perfectly timed message.

— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013

The poster example for real-time marketing, Oreo (and the team at 360i responsible for the tweet) was able to interact on a level that brands had not done before. The following year, brands and agencies were all aboard the social media war room train. They were ready to cover major events like the Super Bowl, Olympic Games, award ceremonies, and political debates. It was time to put themselves firmly on the map and to be a part of the conversation.

The past five years have seen an evolution in social ‘war rooms’ and their impact on businesses. No longer stereotyped as dark rooms where employees huddle together tweeting and deep listening during special events, they’re now a major public relations strategy. In some cases, they’re even employed daily for brands to stay connected and engaged in the conversation.

Here’s how embracing a war room mentality can provide big benefits back to your business.

Focus on the unique details instead of chasing a singular cultural moment

Banking your strategy solely on another Super Bowl blackout occurring isn’t a strong enough reason to warrant your business investing in a war room strategy. Consider instead all of those little unusual details that happen during a cultural event as a stronger return on investment than the event itself.

Are there any noteworthy celebrities watching from the stands? Is the coach mouthing something in the background that seems funny? Did an animal get loose?

Whatever’s happening in the background, bring it into the foreground. This is exactly what we’re currently seeing happening inside NBC’s social media war room, where Millennial workers are zeroing in on what’s happening during the Pyeongchang Winter Games, as well as all the oddities during the events.

Unexpected moments can be made into GIFs and shared on social media platforms like Tumblr and Twitter. This offers potential to turn into viral memes and reach a wider audience, while also giving your brand a chance to be itself.

Make your own big moment

It’s not always easy for say, an insurance company to create content that ties in with an awards ceremony like the Oscars.

Well okay, this might not be the best example since actor J.K. Simmons picked up a Best Supporting Actor award at the 2015 Oscars and has been a longtime presence in Farmers Insurance commercials.

But you get the point. Not every business is able to participate in a big cultural event and nail the relevance that they crave. What then?

The solution might be to make your own big moment.

Subscription box service Birchbox does this yearly with their Customer Appreciation Day initiative. 40 employees hit the war room that day to conduct outreach to customers talking about Birchbox and respond with personalized messages and relevant offers in order to drive traffic, sales, and awareness of the Birchbox brand.

This day doesn’t fall on or tie in with any other major calendar holiday – for anyone not involved in the beauty community, it’s just another ordinary day. For Birchbox and their loyal fans, it’s a celebratory moment. This is a day where longtime subscribers receive fun rewards and customer data stored by the brand is utilized to increase revenue, site traffic, and social media engagements.

Establish an after-game plan

After spending all of that time monitoring social channels, creating and sharing content, and bantering back and forth with other brands, there’s always the morning after. This is usually accompanied by receipts and the big question hanging in the air:

How can your business continue to stay front of mind with audiences?

Sounds like it’s time to get an after-game plan.

The day after Customer Appreciation Day, Birchbox retargets participants (particularly those that watched or commented on their Facebook Live videos) and pitches them on their subscriptions. Since their own, self-created holiday happens so infrequently, it shifts into a focused moment which hones in on customer engagement.

Audiences were unanimous that the Tide ads which aired during Super Bowl LII were some of the funniest that night – but what’s their plan post-game?

Thanks to Tide’s dialogue and creative pregame buzz, there’s a chance that the #TideAd hashtag might be already working on you with its approach to message consistency. The next time you see an advertisement for clean clothes, it might just be a #TideAd in disguise.

Bottom line: make sure you’re mentally prepared before rolling out social media war room. Come equipped with a game strategy, a post-game plan, and ideas for staying engaged with your audience every other day of the year too.

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