“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” (Charles Darwin)
It’s about time that digital marketers learn how to be more real. Well, more real-time. Just like Darwin said, it’s not about being the biggest, or the smartest, it’s about responding fast.
Digital marketers are clamoring to leverage social media data and real-time marketing technologies to understand consumer attitudes and interests, but listening and responding on a traditional media cycle is too slow. A four-week reaction time is too late to leverage anything that happens. Listening and media buying need to happen together, in real time.
How many times have you noticed the same exact video or funny picture (most likely of a cat or wedding proposal) being shared by a few of your friends on Facebook? Then at dinner when you wanted to share this funny piece of content, alas, you realize that everyone around the table already saw it? That’s how fast content moves around the web, Pinterest “pins” are being shared on Facebook, Tumblr posts are being retweeted on Twitter and many pieces of content get their 15 minutes of fame. Internet fame is temporary; people flock from one meme or trend to another within hours and from one social network to another within minutes.
But it’s not only memes that spread like wildfire across the web; it’s also news, opinions, and other worldly topics and discussions. Everyone has their own micro-community they live in – tech, sports, cars, cooking, motherhood. News spreads. And fast. 24/7. Those who care about it will know about it. In this environment, brands need to be agile. How can they connect with their audience in the moment they care the most (or at least just care)?
To understand just how fast a topic can emerge and recede online, take the recent example of the release of a new trailer for the hit game Call of Duty [see graph below]. The Trailer's announcement on May 1st was greeted with an immediate surge of interest and discussion on Twitter. Within less than 24 hours, the conversation shifted from Twitter to a high level of comment activity on YouTube. In real time, users shifted their behavior from a discovery platform in Twitter, to a viewing and discussion platform in YouTube. Even more compelling is the fact that the topic almost entirely receded in less than 48 hours. In a total arc of just 72 hours, a compelling piece of content was discovered, consumed, and discarded.
So what tools are available to help marketers crack the real-time nut? Technology companies like Baynote and SocialFlow, for example, help marketers make decisions about what content to release and when based on their followers’ real-time conversations. Companies like Motista and WiseWindow gather social media data to analyze real-time trends around brands and products.
Although, often, it takes more than available tools and technologies, digital marketers need to shift their way of thinking and campaign strategies to reflect how quickly interests shift online. They need to listen and move in real-time.
To paraphrase Darwin, it’s about being responsive. And fast. Really, really fast.