Jean-Philippe Martzel is Deputy General Manager and Head of Strategic Planning, DigitasLBi France.
Welcome to the age of Real-Time Brands.
Tide and Oreo are well-known as real-time communication precursors. This “live” brand behavior was far from being a trial run. Both brands had already taken steps with the intention of interacting with current events.
Tide had been publicly recognized several months earlier following a minor accident during the NASCAR motor race, when television images revealed that after the accident, the petrol spilt over the track was cleaned up with Tide washing powder. A case of involuntary product placement which triggered a flurry of activity on social networks to Tide’s benefit; then quickly utilized by the brand in the form of a promotional film with the simple tagline: “You keep inventing stains, we’ll keep inventing ways to get them out.”
Everybody knows Oreo’s “Daily Twist”: a 100-day campaign celebrating its 100th birthday. Each day, the brand produced a message echoing current events and broadcast it on social networks. A fine display of real-time communication which resulted in a 110% increase in conversations between the brand and its fans over social networks.
These actions correspond to the main reasons that people follow brands on social networks. Not for promotions, discounts and other freebies, but for “fun and entertainment” (reason cited by 87% of Twitter users in a study conducted by Twitter) and for access to exclusive content (79%).
This close link between content and social networks proves that content is what keeps the relationship between a brand and its audience on social networks going. “Brand content” and “social networks” should therefore no longer be seen as two distinct fields; but as being complementary to one another.
Organizing for Real-Time
But this approach of integrating content and social networks entails a prerequisite: organizing the conditions for having a permanent ear on the social network activity of a brand’s audience in order to identify the topics and content which people are already talking about.
In fact, listening processes which were until nowreserved for “crisis communication” are on the way to becoming essential communication techniques for brands on social networks. No longer to respond to a crisis, but in order to pounce on a topic which could enhance conversation with its audience.
Social networks have greatly advanced the notion of immediacy and have thereby equally reduced the timeframe within which we have to react to events. Brand communication is subject to the same acceleration, as success is determined by the “freshness” and relevance of the response provided.
Tide is among the brands which have implemented listening and reaction processes on social networks through news rooms. The aim is to identify the topic which could be snapped up by the brand with an eye to reacting in the form of content. For the first time, listening, design, content production and the validation process by a brand are united in time and place.
Domino’s Pizza may not have a newsroom, but it does have the full human commitment of its social network director, Ramon De Leon, who treats social networks as one could say Bourdieu treated sociology: like a combat sport.
Ramon De Leon spends his time “in the field”, at universities, neighborhood events, etc., in contact with Domino’s Pizza customers. Decked out with smartphones, spare batteries and external hard drives, he produces content and broadcasts it live on the brand’s social networks. Describing himself as “the face behind the logo,” De Leon reacts immediately to any conversation. Recently, during the New York marathon, Domino’s Pizza stationed itself on the edge of the course in order to supply one runner, who had tweeted one hour earlier to say that their earphones were broken, with a pair of earphones… Sometime before, Ramon De Leon accompanied Domino’s Pizza delivery people on the streets of Chicago during a snowstorm which immobilized the entire city.
Video: Ramon de Leon shares his experience at LeWeb Paris (image credit: Ramon de Leon)
This shift to real-time communication changes a number of things. The way in which brands communicate, of course, but also the way in which brands work with their PR agency. Finally, and above all, the organization of the validation process within the brand is examined in order to allow educated, real-time decision making. This requires both close proximity and a high degree of maturity all round. This kind of approach will be the result of a thorough and well-thought-out work process.
In short, improvisation will be real-time brands’ worst enemy.
This post is a part of our People’s Insights report The Future of Creativity, in which experts from MSLGROUP and some from Publicis Groupe identify 15 drivers for engaging creatively in 2015.