If you're at all involved with social media, chances are you've heard of, accepted, or been pressured into accepting the "Ice Bucket Challenge." For those of you who are not aware of the global phenomenon, the Ice Bucket Challenge has spread in support of ALS awareness and involves people challenging each other to dump refreshing ice water over their heads and posting their videos to Facebook or Twitter. If you do not accept the challenge, the onus is on you to donate $100 to the ALS cause. Since I'm an intern and college student for a living, I chose the budget package and was happy to "spread awareness" for free. Here's a shot of me pouring a jug of water over my head, much like a football coach sadly congratulating himself after a big win.
Brands have now hopped aboard the ice water bandwagon and posted their own videos just like the rest of us. This is what they call real-time marketing, and it's something that has been hot on the radar of marketers this year. While RTM has been around for years, it became a buzz term when Oreo put out a delicious tweet during the blackout at the big game on February. Since then, it seems that every marketer has tried their hand at chiming in on the latest event.
Efforts have been relatively unsuccessful since Oreo, as companies who employ real-time tactics usually come off as opportunistic and superficial. However, what makes the "Ice Bucket Challenge Campaign" work for brands is that they are also displaying corporate social responsibility by donating money to ALS. People are more attracted by the actions of a company, not by gimmicks. Far too often, companies will hop on to current events such as the Oscars and awkwardly insert their brand into the conversation with their social media posts.
When it comes down to it, the tried and true method of real-time marketing is immediate personalization. Just like corporate social responsibility, personalization is about establishing genuine relationships with customers. When it comes to your website, it means personalizing content based on where they currently are in the purchase journey. It's authentic and it takes into account that people aren't always ready to buy, they may just be looking for useful information. That's what developing loyal relationships with customers comes down to: An ongoing and mutually beneficial interaction.
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