Why It's Time For Real Time Content Marketing
Like the earth spinning around the sun, the Web never stops. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, stuff keeps happening. And chances are, some amount of that stuff is happening in ways that, right now, are affecting your company and your customers and your brand.
New products are getting launched, prices are changing, special deals are hitting the Web. What’s more, companies in the same market sector or geography may be changing hands, relevant new laws could be getting passed, important executives switching jobs. Who knows what else?
At the very least, your customers - and many of their friends, whom you should think of as prospective customers and prospective promoters of your brand - are no doubt tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, emailing, chatting, and YouTubing about you and your company.
Thanks for sharing, you might want to say. But in fact, you ought to be going a step further and actively participating in this massive online conversation as it’s happening - in real time, that is, with a content marketing move that connects you with your audience in the moment.
The old adage, strike while the iron is hot, has never been more relevant to marketing than it is today, with the online audience so wired and so adept at finding out what it wants to know about nearly anything near immediately.
Indeed, crafting and publishing so-called real-time content should be a top priority for any organization that wants to take its content marketing strategy to the next level.
For many large organizations, this is old news - or ought to be. Corporate America has learned the hard way that simply ignoring bad news - say, a product that needs serious fixing - and hoping it will fade away can be a recipe for disaster. Just ask Intel, for instance. It got trashed up and down the Web when one of its Pentium chips proved to contain a tiny, tiny bug. Today, entire companies focus on helping companies manage communications during such crises - an extreme form of public relations.
Chances are, you’re not going to have to deal with such a dire situation as that. You’ll be more concerned with attuning your content marketing to the general drift of the endless conversation going on within and around your particular marketplace. This way, you can not only counteract any negative information that arises but also take advantage of the conversation is a positive way.
In many cases, there may be an opportunity to piggy-back your content marketing on the larger discussion. Say you deal in musical instruments - guitars, keyboards, drums, etc. And now, imagine that pop star Katy Perry releases a music video showing her playing some exotic new guitar. Hers, of course, is painted in extra-groovy colors, and she's seen using it in some surrealistic setting amidst a troupe of excellent dancers. Suddenly, the Web lights up with talk about Perry and her video.
Most of Perry's fans have never seen one of these guitars before. Here's your chance to be the world's greatest expert. Your real-time content marketing play: Post a witty, funny, entertaining, maybe even a highly technical article on your blog all about this instrument and how it works, who invented it, what it's good for, and who else uses it - and make darned sure you mention Katy Perry and the name of her song, too. And promote this post in all the usual social media channels.
The more you can weave in your smart, unique take on this instrument, the artist herself, and her video, the more likely your post will be to get picked up and passed along, carrying the name of your shop along with it for all the world - well, a good part of it, anyway - to see.
The trick, here, is not merely to move fast but also to craft a truly unique and compelling piece of content - one that's not just a rehash of other content you see around the Web but text that's all yours, that's designed to grab eyeballs and move people to share it with friends. In this case, you might do well to create your own video - a parody of Perry's, perhaps, or one that shows a skilled musician playing her song on the same instrument. You've got to provide the audience with something valuable - if only of entertainment value - that they can't get elsewhere.
Think gift to the community. Think originality. Think creativity, not echo, repeat, rehash, retweet.
Of course, all this requires you to keep up with the news and the Web's myriad conversations. Someone, in other words, must have their ear to the ground and be ready pounce on opportunities as they arise. There are tools that can help: Google Alerts, Tweetdeck, and Hootsuite, for instance. They can scan the digital airwaves for particular terms.
Mainly, though, real-time marketing calls for proactive vigilance on the part of your marketing team - real eyeballs and real minds paying attention, thinking, analyzing, and formulating real-time content as quickly and smartly as it's needed, in just the right formats and with just the right messages.
In short, real-time content marketing is not easy. It requires some effort, as marketing guru David Meerman Scott has been pointing out here and there in recent months. There's no autopilot. You'll need to harness some real brains, whether in-house or for hire. The payoffs, though, can be substantial.
What do you think? Is real-time content marketing working for you? Any thoughts? Let us know. Like, now.