With today’s technology and connected devices, people are experiencing unprecedented levels of speed, mobility, and accessibility in obtaining information. We no longer wish or hope for everything to be instantly available, right at our fingertips—we expect it. As a result, real-time marketing has become more important than ever in growing your business.
“Real-time marketing” might sound intimidating, but the good news is, it is not as hard as it sounds! No fancy technology needed. Thanks to social media, a few adjustments to your existing activities may be all you need in order to add a real-time element to your marketing strategy.
Real-time marketing is exactly how it sounds: marketing that takes place in the moment. This “moment” can take many forms. It could be the moment that your offer becomes available, the moment that a customer needs something, or the moment that an event starts.
“The moment” refers to an important or ideal time, with respect to your target audience’s needs and your business goals: your target audience needs information fast, and you need the attention of your target audience. Real-time marketing focuses on connecting with your audience during crucial moments when engagement will be most fruitful.
Real-time marketing is about including your target audience in on important moments, as they are occurring. Rather than posting an album after an event, share photos live from the event. If you have a special sale in your store, you could use real-time marketing to showcase happy customers and respond to questions and feedback happening during the sale. Real-time marketing efforts can help your target audience to feel more connected to your business, as well as incentivize more people to attend or participate.
While real-time marketing occurs in the moment of the important event, it does not mean that there is no planning involved. The offers and events of your real-time marketing efforts are just like any other marketing activity—they will be planned (and often promoted) ahead of time, and even reported on after the fact. However, with real-time marketing, you will also be promoting and sharing during the activity. For example, a live stream is a great way of harnessing the moment, but you will still want to let people know about the live stream ahead of time, to get people excited about it and to get more people tuning in when it happens.
Social media is the ideal platform for real-time marketing, with its self-updating news feeds, easy sharing capabilities, and support for a wide range of media. The speed of information, volume of information, and ability to filter and categorize for relevancy allows you to instantly connect with people who want to know about and engage with your business. Using social media for real-time marketing can take many forms—pictures, videos, links, promotional codes; and can be used for a wide range of information relevant to your business, industry, local community, and other segments of your target audience.
Your Facebook Business page is a platform for real-time marketing. For example, if you post about a product and people comment with questions and concerns about the product, you can respond to them immediately, while informing everyone else who has that same question. Real-time marketing works here by enabling better customer service and equipping potential customers with the information they need in order to make a buying decision.
Another use of Facebook for real-time marketing is through Facebook Live. There are many ways to use Facebook live for your small business.
For real-time marketing, you might broadcast an event, live stream a Q&A, host a live webinar, or choose winners to a contest. Knowing how many viewers are tuning in can help you cater your efforts to the audience size, and seeing what people are saying and asking can allow you to provide the information that is in demand at that moment.
Facebook live is especially good for showing your transparency. Live video broadcasts help to show that you’ve got nothing to hide, which facilitates trust with your target audience. Also, your genuine conversational presence will humanize your business, make it more approachable for customers.
Instagram is another way to connect instantly with your target audience. You might post pictures of happy customers during a sale, or create a hashtag that, if used in posts by happy customers, earns them a discount. Or, you could run a contest or giveaway where followers enter by answering a fun or thought-provoking question in the comments section. The entries create a stream of content for your audience to view in the moment they are being submitted, and the activity surrounding the contest may encourage onlookers to participate.
The stories feature offered by both Instagram and Snapchat can help you in your real-time marketing efforts. With Snapchat and Instagram Stories, you add photos and videos over the course of a day, to a collection that is visible to your followers. Once the collection is started, it disappears after 24 hours. You can use Instagram Stories or Snapchat Stories for behind the scenes looks at the culture of your business, or to keep people up to date on an all-day event.
When it comes to Facebook Live vs Snapchat, or Instagram vs or Snapchat Stories, each of these methods of real-time marketing has a different way of increasing engagement. While Facebook live is good for capturing the transparency of your business, Snapchat and Instagram stories are good for capturing the culture and values of your business. A story told by a series of photos and videos can help to convey a message to your audience that will resonate with them on a personal level.
Real-time marketing is becoming increasingly important to business growth. Not only does it increase and improve engagement with your target audience, it allows you to provide relevant information at the speed and relevancy that people are expecting today. Incorporate real-time activities into your marketing efforts so you can capture and keep your audience’s attention!