Your brand needs to look beyond organic reach and use real time marketing to actively monitor and engage with its audience.

More and more people are signalling the death of organic reach on social media.

Facebook has announced to some large brands and holding companies that organic reach might be coming to an end and that they should prepare for it. There have been some active discussions here in Canada and the US about how this could affect an entire industry of community managers and social media companies. Facebook has published an article explaining that they are testing various ways to manage organic reach for brands in certain countries, and that it is not a formal announcement that this might be rolled out globally anytime soon.

But let me be frank about it. I think these tests will prove relevant and that at some point, no brand will be able to reach your newsfeed in either Facebook, Instagram or maybe even Twitter without paying for it.

And you should be prepared.

A brand posting 2 posts per day, 7 days a week: this is an era that might coming to an end.

This is where real time marketing comes in.

What is real time marketing?

Real time marketing is the notion that your brand must be listening at all times and have processes to deal with content opportunities in near real time.

This does not mean having someone “on call” to manage customer comments on Facebook or the rare tweet that asks you a question.

It is the notion of actively monitoring social media and the web for opportunities where your brand can engage one-on-one or onboard a global conversation/trend.

The 3 pillars of real time marketing

At Toast we split our approach, developed in part by Sandy Suissa (account services director), to real time marketing into three distinct pillars:

  1. Global & Local Trends
  2. Needs & Requests
  3. Instant Opportunities

The next 3 sections will describe each pillar.

Global & Local Trends

Whether you are a CPG or a retailer, monitoring global and local trends is key into finding when and where your brand can participate or have its voice heard.

Is there a new series of viral videos generated by users that your brand should also participate in? Think, for example, when the Ice Bucket Challenge was all the rage. It was a definite global trend and not only did individuals take the challenge on, many brands also did. Was it always a good idea? No.

When seeing a trend rising, brands should ask themselves if they should jump on it or let it fade away without getting into it. It will not always be easy to make that decision. Sometimes, very large trends might create great traction for the brand if it is well executed, but it also can backfire quickly and seem opportunistic.

The same is true on a local level. If you are a retailer that has points of sale in various communities, you want to be able to monitor what is happening in these very local, smaller locations. There might be a great contribution that your brand can make on a local level.

In 2014, a user post on Reddit triggered a great number of responses and coverage. A man had bought airplane tickets to go around the world with his girlfriend, but they ended up splitting up before their grand voyage. He was then stuck with tickets for himself and an “Elizabeth Gallagher”. He set out to find another “Elizabeth Gallagher” on the Internet to join him. And it worked. Many Elizabeths applied and he chose one. Where trends monitoring comes in is that Marriott, the hotel chain, saw this hot topic and decided to offer 2-room hotel stays around the world for the two travellers. It became a great example of a brand monitoring for trends and seeing how (and if in relevant fashion) it could participate.

Needs & Requests

Is your brand monitoring for questions or expressions of needs or intent on social media, coming from an individual that might be in your market?

If you are a chain of pizza restaurants that offer delivery (or not) for example, are you monitoring discussions around your locations so that you can catch people that might be in the market for a meal? On a larger scale, this can be extremely interesting and a great way to engage with potential new customers.

Now expand this idea to your own vertical. Are there specific keywords, phrases or other elements that you can monitor and listen to that would allow you to establish with some level of certainty that this person is in the market for what you offer?

Listening for needs & requests can be a great way to make your brand more human, accessible and in touch with its current and future customer base.

The Marriott group of hotel chains implemented a system that monitors any public social media post that individuals make in or near its hotels. This means that if someone is on the rooftop terrace enjoying themselves by the pool and posting a public Instagram photo, the hotel manager will be notified and will be able to send them a bottle of champagne so that the customer’s experience becomes an even more memorable one. And they actually do it. And it drives these customers’ satisfaction through the roof.

Same thing can be done with people complaining or commenting on an issue they are having with your product.

Can you brand do this?

Instant Opportunities

Remember when the electricity went out during the Super Bowl in 2013? The power went out in the Superdome during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens. Oreo jumped on the opportunity, and tweeted this while the game had to be put on hold:

Think about it. In about 30 minutes, the brand marketers were able to go through their entire creative/approval process and tweet what is now a key tweet in Twitter history.

Can your brand do this?

Is your brand in touch with what is happening RIGHT NOW so that it could react if it is relevant?

Is your brand following large scale events like the Super Bowl, the Oscars or any other big event in your market around the world?

Many (many) brands are not.

It is fairly easy to set up, but not as easy to implement. It requires flexibility and trust on the part of the brand as things will need to move fast if an opportunity comes up.

How to implement real time marketing

Brand command centres

Implementing real time marketing for your brand is not a case of asking your community managers to keep their eyes on their cellphones 24/7 and report back if anything pops up.

It needs to be more robust than this.

There are multiple ways they can be set up, but most often they become a physical place or set of workstations in  your offices that are dedicated to this, where all monitoring happens.

When you fully build it, it can look something like this. This is one of Marriot’s multiple M Live locations around the world:

Multiple tools are integrated so that monitoring and reacting can be as simple as possible.

Tools like Hyp3r (monitoring social media posts in multiple physical locations), Sysomos (listening to public conversations, looking for intent, keywords or phrases) and Tickr (making all tools talk to each other and digesting large chunks of data into readable and actionable insights) are examples of what a brand might use to build its own version of the brand command centre.

You can also build one at a much smaller scale with tools like Feedly (monitoring websites and the media), Hootsuite (monitoring social media for specific keywords, emotions, even intent), Google Alerts (monitors the Google index for keywords, phrases and more in near real time and alerts you) and Klipfolio (to build dashboards to integrate with your analytics and measurement tools).

Content agencies like Toast also work with brands in offering them the possibility to have us add their brand to the command centre built at our offices, allowing for a smaller scale, staffed solution to their real time marketing needs.


Listening and detecting opportunities is great, but can you act on it?

Is your brand ready to build processes that will allow it to react within minutes (sometimes) to a global trend or a local customer that has expressed a need?

Processes need to be built, tested and implemented. This is not the easiest part, but without it, no brand command centre will survive its first 12 months. Frustration and anger will set in and nothing will come out of it.

So if you are planning on getting on board with this, be ready to have your agencies, your internal marketing teams and your customer support representatives in the know about the program, its processes and the various workflows it requires.

Are you curious and would like to discuss building a brand command centre for your brand?

So after reading all this, is this something that could interest you or your brand executives?

Be sure to reach out to us to discuss this further and explore what form a brand command centre could take for your brand.