Are You there, Brand? It’s me, Vine
There are so many haters of real-time marketing out there. Mike Proulx wrote about it as a predatory weed, Carree Syrek wants us to avoid using the term or pay a dollar, and there is at least one entire blog devoted to snarky comments on brand RTM efforts. Theirs, and other anti-RTM arguments, center around the fact that some marketers are tripping all over themselves to try and match the headline grabbing social content of brands like Tide, GE, and Red Bull —and that this blind race results in a variety of brand failures. I don’t understand the intensity of the negativity. The activities required to engage in RTM are not
problematic. Real-time is a terrific space, enabled by technology that has unlocked modern versions of traditional WOM consumer behaviors—and brands need to get good at it. And while most of the activities have focused on Facebook and Twitter, the sentiment translates across the latest notable, in-the-moment video tools like Vine, Instagram, and Snapchat. Consumers in these channels don’t tolerate safety, tepidness, or trepidation. They reward speed, honesty, and creativity. Those are qualities that we should be encouraging in our brands across the board — and it’s why more marketers should be diving deeper into social video.
As always, it’s helpful to look back at the evolution of advertising and marketing. Early television ads are laughable by today’s standards for a variety of reasons. One factor is evolution – the technology, of course, but more importantly, the consumer expectations and our understanding of how to best use the medium. TV advertising has matured, changes are minimal and incremental, innovation is almost nonexistent, and everyone follows the same set of best practices. Vine, Instagram, and even YouTube are in an embryonic stage of their lifecycle. And the rate of change in this area may redefine maturity. People and brands learn by doing. Mistakes will be made. Marketers can’t wait for best practices to develop — with social video, they are typically out of date every six months. The best practice for this space is iteration – discovering what your unique set of fans is interested in. And while a lot of brands are fearful that a stumble in social media could result in a backlash, this is the case with poorly made content in
channel. Kenneth Cole’s tweets weren’t stupid because they were on Twitter, they were just stupid. The naysayers of RTM wouldn’t tell a brand to stop investing in TV because of a bad commercial. The same attitude should apply to social video and real-time marketing, where the rewards outweigh the risks.
Social Video Channels are Innovation-Oriented
Creative experimentation in TV or traditional marketing is fraught and scarce. It does happen, on occasion (for instance, Domino's telling everyone their pizza isn’t good or Infinity’s static view of the ocean), but in general brands and marketers are (understandably) less willing to take risks with all of those extra zeroes in the price tag. But social video is built for innovation. It has a half-life that would make a fruit fly seem like an octogenarian, which makes the learning value cycle tight and actionable. It has a ruthless but forgiving audience, as long you are transparent and honest. It rewards relevance, speed, forthrightness, and uniqueness. These attributes are attractive to marketers and brands –
mistakes can even be rewarded with positive feedback. A healthy fan base can allow a brand to explore