Being real-time is not enough; be where your audience is

Monday, 8 July 2013

Being real-time alone isn’t enough for brands. They have got to be where their consumers are and embrace the platform that they’re using. If they’re not they’re missing out on conversation. For me that’s the most important thing about real-time marketing.

Twitter has always made it easy to find people who are mentioning your brand or seize any moment which is in the public eye. The ability to create your own moment has also been there too but perhaps clients and their agencies weren’t brave or experienced enough to do this for fear of getting it wrong.

The moment you really get Twitter

I truly believe there’s a moment when you really ‘get’ Twitter, but this only comes through using it. Particularly when watching an event unfold in real time be it watching witty one- liners flood your feed, as someone makes a fool of themselves in front of millions on Saturday prime time TV, or witnessing breaking news unfold. Taking clients on this journey, making them comfortable and building trust and understanding is the only way to reach the point when you can make unique moments happen.

For over a year and a half TMW (@tmwagency) have been creating social content on a daily basis for Unilever’s deodorant brand Lynx (Axe in the US). Understanding what works and not being afraid of finding out what doesn’t, has been an essential part of the learning process. Furthermore, having a strong relationship with our client has enabled us to do this. We asked for trust so we could try things out — and in return, we were always on, swiftly capitalising on opportunities that the brand could be a part of.

This always-on approach meant we had to become more agile as an agency. We could plan for real-world events and occasions like April Fools’ Day and St Patrick’s Day, but often the good stuff turned up unannounced: trending topics, football managers resigning or space men singing David Bowie classics in zero gravity are all examples. Our community manager, @alexwillimott, had his eyes and ears open and our creative team was ready to jump into action at any time.

Twitter lit up with mentions of Lynx

Most recently, Lynx was thrown into the limelight unannounced as the product was held up as the key to a successful night’s dogging by one of the lead characters in Channel 4’s one-off hit show “Dogging Tales”, which I spoke about at the recent @TwitterAdsUK event #Furtherfaster. Seconds after Les, star of the show and regular ‘dogger’, held a can of Lynx 2012 Final Edition up to the camera, Twitter lit up with mentions of Lynx and its newfound association with the dogging fraternity. Luckily our nimble fingered community manager was on hand to acknowledge it, and within minutes went out with:

He continued to field banter throughout the programme and on the second showing on Channel 4 +1 when Alan Carr turned up and joined in as well.


After a successful night of dogging-based banter, it was time for the official response. The most popular joke on Twitter was around being a fly on the wall of the Lynx crisis meeting the next day. So we gave them a crisis meeting, consisting of the team wearing dogging masks, which the characters in the TV show had been sporting:


There was a time when brands didn’t have the opportunity to join or respond to these situations. The mainstream media could blow something out of proportion and spin it any way they liked. However, now you have the opportunity to diffuse such claims in real time.

Successful real-time marketing isn’t about being poised in front of a computer 24 hours a day. For clients it’s about finding an agency or team they trust with their brand, enabling them to react to opportunities whenever they arise. For agencies it’s about respecting that trust and making the most of it by becoming more creatively agile and excited about what opportunities could be around the corner.

Mark Carroll is senior social campaign manager at TMW. He’s @themarkcarroll on Twitter.