B2B brands need to own the moment and harness real-time content marketing to be different. The future is here and it’s is real-time. Find out how to harness its power.
Real-time is the next frontier in the advancing journey of a content marketing strategy. It’s a logical step when you consider our fast-moving, mobile-first world, and the instantaneous nature of news, entertainment and communication.
And it’s not just B2C brands who are embracing real-time content marketing either. From corporate IT firms like Cisco, to marketing automation providers like HubSpot, B2B companies are seizing the unique opportunity to engage their audiences live and in the moment to save their content marketing strategies from self-destruction.
Why a real-time content marketing strategy?
The simplest argument in favour of building real-time content into your strategy is that customer engagement skyrockets. One study of marketers found that:
- 76% reported that real-time marketing increased audience engagement.
- 56% said it increased customer satisfaction and positive brand sentiment.
- 35% saw increased increased reach and followers.
- 25% believe it improves conversion and ROI.
There are also many other benefits to the brand such as brand perception, relationship with customers and quality of engagement.
Positions you as current and up-to-date
Reacting in real time to an emerging news story or event makes you look active, on-the-ball and smart (see the famous Oreo example from the 2013 Super Bowl blackout).
Helps create a sense of urgency
Live promotions and limited-time offers lend themselves perfectly to urgency-driven, real-time content marketing. You can exploit the immediacy to encourage people to act now (buy, book, click, subscribe — whatever) rather than later.
Deepens audience connections
Real-time content is a great way to share events or behind-the-scenes goings on with your audience, drawing them in and making them feel a part of your brand and business.
Swift and streamlined
Unlike pre-planned, heavily crafted content, real-time activity can be on-the-fly, spontaneous and time-saving. A live video or photo shared as-it-happens requires little preparation and no post-production.
Keeps content varied
Real-time updates help to break up longer and more traditional formats like blog posts and white papers, with something a little more fresh and easily digestible.
Provides more audience insight
Live streams and active social media conversations provide actionable insights into what your audience thinks, feels and wants — all data you can use to shape your content strategy and even react to there and then.
Improves quality of engagement
Not only can you reach more people with real-time marketing, but you can also improve the quality of engagement, capturing your audience’s attention by delivering an interactive, here-and-now experience.
12 ways to win with a real-time content marketing strategy
Just as in all other content marketing, real-time should reflect the core principles of knowing the customer and satisfying their needs. The instantaneous, more casual nature of real-time content provides an opportunity to mirror and reflect your audience even better.
Follow these 12 steps to make your real-time content audience-friendly:
1. Be strategic and answer the question of “why?”
Always ensure your teams create content with the purpose it fulfils for the customer in mind.
2. Embrace the natural language of your audience
Language is an important part of rapport and relationship-building. Use language that chimes with your audience and feels natural to them.
3. Monitor the transient conversations of your audience for content cues
Social media conversations, forum discussions and blog comments are all invaluable sources of inspiration for the kind of content topics your audience would like to see explored.
4. Know social content signals can affect your search audience
Social shares can impact search results, and so publishing engaging real-time content helps to improve your SEO footprint.
5. Know the keyword and SEO tactics that help improve your audience effectiveness in social channels
Keywords help to connect you to your audience on social channels as well as in search engines, by spreading your content to the right people and encouraging sharing.
6. Engage one bird to attract whole flocks
Key influencers on social media can make a big difference in helping your real-time content get off the ground and giving it the push it needs to fly.
7. Give a lot, and you get back a lot
Put time and effort into your content and you will see the benefits in the form of customer loyalty and engagement.
8. Encourage and demonstrate trustworthiness with your audience and with search engines
Build trust with your audience and with Google by making sure your content is good quality, spam-free and well optimised.
9. Find the conversational demand of your audience in social spaces
Always monitor conversations and discourses in your sector and among your audience, so you can tap into any emerging currents or themes.
10. Listen to your audience
This one is simple — use audience feedback to inspire, improve and inform your content marketing strategy.
11. Remember that you are part of a shared content conversation about your company
We all know marketing is a two-way street now. Real-time marketing brings that interactivity to life in an even more striking way.
12. Remember that you are never done
Keep using the audience insights and cues to produce fresh and engaging content over time.
Adapted from Content Marketing Institute
Real-time content marketing: 4 B2B Examples
Now let’s have a look at some examples of B2B brands already using real-time marketing as a part of their content strategy.
These companies are sharing live videos via Snapchat, a platform boasting 6 billion daily video views and now entering a more mature phase and increasingly being used by B2B brands to target and engage customers
The American multinational technology conglomerate uses Snapchat to show its softer side, letting a handpicked group of employees run the account for a personal, backstage feel.
But don’t let the friendly, spontaneous vibe fool you — there’s a content marketing calendar in place and a planning process to ensure a constant stream of content.
Dun & Bradstreet
A commercial data analytics company on Snapchat? That’s right. D&B are using the ‘ghosting’ app to give their audience behind-the-scenes access to thought leaders, products and activities.
They also use geofilters, custom visual overlays, to ‘brand’ photos shared live from company events and spread awareness.
IBM treats its Snapchat stories like traditional content — with a beginning, middle and end creating a complete narrative each time. It’s designed to keep users coming back for the next instalment.
"On Snapchat, it's critical right from the start to establish why people should continue watching your story..."
Katie Keating, Global Social Brand Strategy Lead, IBM.
- Real-time is the next evolution of content marketing, allowing B2B brands to connect with customers in a way that feels current and grabs attention.
- Research shows that real-time marketing boosts engagement, customer satisfaction, reach, and conversion rates.
- Real-time content is swift and streamlined, helps to create a sense of urgency, deepens audience connections and provides useful insights.
- It is crucial to start and end with the customer. All content should be designed to fulfil their needs, with insights and feedback used to optimise and improve your output.
- B2B brands including Cisco and IBM are using real-time content to humanise their brand and connect on a personal level with prospects and customers.