One of the greatest challenges every large brand faces is the need to respond to the new demands of a real-time marketplace. This extends from outbound engagement to build the relationships, loyalty and good will to drive long-term success, and the tireless 24/7 demand for customer service and product information.
This is undoubtedly difficult for brands as to provide anything less is often misperceived as active self-absorption or disinterest in customers as opposed to a marketing oversight. With this in mind, it’s valuable to examine three example of how leading brands with all the complexity of demands of multi-national corporations are rising to the real time challenge.
Coca-Cola, the World Cup and the Real-time Trophy Tour:
Not only is Coca-Cola engaging in real time with its global World Cup community but also it’s doing so way ahead of the actual event. Its World Cup Trophy Tour has already begun with a Canadian photographer and blogger with a large following on Flickr and Instagram taking the actual cup to 89 different countries from Nepal to Costa Rica. His ‘Tales from the Trophy Tour’ take the form of photos, blog posts and video and allow the brand to speak to their shared love of the sport through the fresh eyes of the fans and the photographer. In so doing they are co-creating content that makes them the hero of the marketing campaign further endearing the brand to its customers as the tour serves as a platform to showcase the global community’s love of the sport.
Takeaway: Real-time isn’t just valuable during an event or promotion. Engagement can start well before and tap into the excitement leading up to an event.
MasterCard and the Content-Rich, Real-time Newsroom: MasterCard is continuing its transformation from a B2B company to a dynamic, digital firm by shifting its focus to social interactions that allow it to better understand customers and clients through real-time engagement. Having already launched their Conversation Suite in May, “a real-time focus group” that tracks all mentions of MasterCard and the competition with results displayed on a giant 40 ft. LED screen, the financial services brand is launching The Engagement Bureau. This is the next expression of the brand’s news sharing platform focused on creating a conversation place and publishing hub for the brand. The newsroom features real-time tweets that populate at the bottom of the page where all news released by the company will then be housed. As Jennifer Stalzer, VP, Global Digital Communications at MasterCard states, the purpose of the new site is to encourage more engagement, promote visual storytelling and conversation and allow for more digital content that can be “created, shared and published real time.”
Key Takeaway: Real-time engagement outlives the moment. The content you capture when you engage customers in real-time can be repurposed in several ways to extend connectivity with customers.
General Electric and Real-time B2B and B2C Engagement:
As one of the world’s largest B2B companies, it might seem counter-intuitive for a company like GE to use tools such as Instagram. But underscoring this strategy is a goal of building its leadership profile by leading relevant conversations. For instance, GE has been uploading photos of its various jet engines in various stages of construction from the factory floor to install and in action on a 747. The caption on this photo reads: “Shooting the Turbulence Control Structure (TCS) at Site 7. The TCS is used to stabilize airflow during engine tests. #GEInstaWalk (at Peebles Test And Overhaul).” Not only does this allow us to peer behind the curtain of the brand and demystify what GE builds, but also through the use of multiple hashtags GE extends the reach of its photos and what they say about the brand. Instagram serves both as a visual conversation starter and also a powerful social discovery platform that can introduce more people to the brand. Such real-time engagement can both showcase your company culture and values to a broader audience and showcase your latest products and success stories.
Key Takeaway: There is always a ‘C’ in B2B. No matter whether you are talking to a B2B vendor or client, or building your brand reputation within the global community, the immediacy of real-time engagement is a powerful way to engage and connect emotionally with your audience.
Social technology is teaching us to be human again whether you’re a multi-national company, B2B or a customer service representative. Brands of all sizes are rediscovering the art of conversation through real-time engagement and in so doing, opening the door to deeper relationships, greater loyalty and new customers.