One Billion Refreshes: Opportunities for Real-time Marketing at #SMX


Welcome back to our coverage from SMX Social! Jen Miller, Director of Social Product Strategy for Coca-Cola, led off the Reacting to Real-Time Events: Being On-point for Mass Appeal session on day one at SMX Social with a mind-blowing statistic: We check our phones a combined 100 billion times per day. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

For a global brand like Coke, which is mentioned in English 35 times per minute, that presents an incredible opportunity for its brand to be involved in real-time conversation. It’s also a daunting task. To tackle it, Coke created a Hub Network to host its 32 social centers around the world. These centers are cross-function operations with research, technology and marketing in one place and they communicate with each other to drive real-time efforts.

That communication between disciplines is key. Coke relies on data it checks every 15 and 60 minutes to learn what topics and trends to take advantage of for the best real-time benefit. Armed with that information, marketers can create their messages. Speed trumps perfection here; the time it takes to craft a message that might only boost results by a few percentage points can cause you to miss the moment. In other words, real-time is more about right-time.

From like to love

All that data and process is great, but it has to benefit a brand for it to mean anything. Miller used the example of Coke’s #AmericaIsBeautiful ad in this year’s Super Bowl to showcase Coke’s three-point strategy for making that happen.

  1. Seed the sentiment. Prepare people to hear and feel your message before you deliver it.
  2. Provoke the dialogue. The Super Bowl ad was heavy on culture and featured a same-sex couple to drive home its point that its diversity makes America beautiful.
  3. Steer the conversation. In this case, the conversation unexpectedly became a part of the immigration debate. By being so plugged in to its data, Coke was able to see that it could take a step back while its community stepped in. That’s the pinnacle of social engagement!

Finding your way through listening

Erik Jensen, Director of Advertising & Merchandising for Denny’s Restaurants, also kicked off his portion of the session with a statistic, one that most brands would love to have: Denny’s has 97 percent market awareness and 95 percent of people have tried its brand. Huge!

But it also had a problem: Denny’s wasn’t relevant; people ate there but didn’t come back. Jensen gave several reasons for why this was the case, but his main point was that Denny’s stopped listening to its audience. It was no longer the only restaurant staying open late and serving breakfast all day long. Fast casual chains were eating its lunch – pun intended. It had become an irrelevant brand to an entire generation.

To get their groove back, it was only natural to turn their ears back to the public. What they heard was simple: “You’re a diner.” None of its other competitors can claim the same diner-esque food and atmosphere Denny’s does, so leveraging that became the way it re-emerged on customers’ radar.

Erik then handed the microphone to Kevin Purcer, SVP & Director of Digital Strategy at Erwin Penland, the agency that handles social for Denny’s, to explain its approach for building the brand.

Every morning, Purcer’s team meets for a “morning scrum” to study Twitter, Google search trends, the Reddit homepage and other buzz sources to talk about what’s been performing well and what is bubbling below the surface, updating their editorial calendar on a massive white board in its office. Working with an open culture that encourages everyone to contribute ideas, it is able to jump on ideas with Denny’s to push them out quickly while they’re still at the top of the social conversation.

Denny’s does supplement its content with a “modest” budget for amplification, but similar to Coke, it relies on data to guide its decisions. Using something it calls engagement velocity – a measurement of how fast a piece of content is shared over time – it watches for pieces that hit a pre-determined benchmark then throws the budget behind it. Doing it this way allows Denny’s to capitalize on popularity before it dies down.

All three speakers in the real-time session convey how it’s more than simply developing a piece of content for your brand to attach itself to a trending topic. Capitalizing on trends takes planning guided by intense monitoring and reliable data, supplemented by awesome creativity, for a brand to shine.

 Image copyright: Milleflore Images

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