Members Speak Out: 4 Real-Time Social Media Lessons from #Election2012 & Madison Avenue
In the past few years, the conversation around social media has expanded from engagement, to listening and now to social planning for ‘real time.’ As eMarketer has cited, real-time marketing “…goes far beyond simply posting a timely tweet or status update… businesses are expanding their use of social analytics to do so much more.” This includes using social data for enhanced targeting and content creation. Brands are also anticipating social conversations to actively inform creative execution and media planning decisions for both digital and traditional mediums. It is clear that planning social media ‘for real-time’ has become an increasingly important part of the paid, owned and earned media equation.
To a packed and Twitter-trending house at the IAB Social Media Agency Day held in NYC yesterday, Peter Greenberger, Director of Political Advertising at Twitter, kicked off the three hour event with a talk on what brands and marketers can learn from the politicians during the 2012 Election. His talk is recapped below:
Politics & Madison Avenue: Lessons for brands from #Election2012
There is a long history of political advertising influencing Madison Avenue. The earliest brand television commercials borrowed from pioneering political consultants. In more recent years, McCain 2000 proved the Internet could be used to fundraise; the 2004 Howard Dean campaign introduced blogs and Meetups to mainstream America; and the 2008 Obama campaign nudged social networking forward.
In 2012, Twitter drove the narrative of the presidential campaign. It allowed millions of citizens to participate in the political conversation and enabled the campaigns to engage voters more directly than ever before. One of the more exciting discoveries from the 2012 election (kicked off with Romney’s now famous “Big Bird” debate comment) is the way brand marketers have begun mimicking the real-time marketing activities developed by political advertisers. Below we’ll explore how to prepare for, and execute, successful real-time campaigns - and explain how real-time marketing (RTM) came of age during the first #TwitterElection.
Prepare for real-time
Being real-time is not easy. The campaigns can provide valuable lessons to brands on how to prepare for and capitalize on real-time opportunities.
1. Listen to the community by monitoring Twitter conversations.
Before you can join or influence a conversation, you must take some time to listen. Both campaigns monitored chatter on Twitter to determine how their paid TV spots were resonating with the intended audience and also as an early warning system for potentially negative memes. The Romney campaign watched the Hilary Rosen comment on CNN about Ann Romney’s work experience explode on Twitter and capitalized on the moment by having Mrs. Romney launch her own Twitter handle to join the discussion.
2. Build your community by growing your followers in a targeted way.
The campaigns created customized handles for specific audiences and goals. For example, the Obama campaign set up different handles geared towards students (@Students4Obama), Latinos (@LatinosforObama) and voters in key states such as Ohio (@OFA_OH). The campaigns tweeted out exclusive content including behind the scenes photos, contests and offers to build a loyal following on Twitter.
We will finish what we started because of you. twitter.com/Students4Obama…— Students for Obama (@Students4Obama) November 7, 2012
3. Engage the community with compelling content and real-time interaction.
Twitter is an engagement platform and both campaigns created compelling content in real-time to encourage users to respond. They prepared Tweets and calls to action before convention speeches, debate nights and leading up to Election Day. They asked for feedback using planned hashtags (#dontdoublemyrates and #40dollars), encouraged Retweets to show support and jumped on trending news and current events.
Taxes will go up for 160 million Americans by the end of this month if Congress doesn’t act. What does #40dollars a paycheck mean to you?— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 14, 2012
4. Move the community with effective persuasion and clear calls to action.
Ultimately, you have to move votes to win an election and the campaigns used Twitter as a powerful persuasion and Get-Out-the-Vote tool. @GOP tweeted videos with their party’s closing message on Election Day (“watch this before you vote!”); the Obama campaign urged voters to #StayInLine with Promoted Tweets targeted to mobile devices in key states experiencing long lines at the polls. And the Obama campaign specifically used Twitter to drive registration and early votes in key states.
Please WATCH this Video Before You Cast Your Vote: youtube.com/watch?v=pI5qjA…— RNC (@GOP) November 3, 2012
Nevada, pass it on: Polls close at 7pm PT. You can vote as long as you’re in line before then. #StayInLine— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
Colorado: Today’s your last chance to vote early for President Obama. Get it done now: OFA.BO/RVEsLL— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 2, 2012
Real-time marketing comes of age for brands
On February 3, more than halfway through Super Bowl XLVII the lights went out in the New Orleans Superdome. This unexpected moment was when the game began for Oreo and their now famous, “You Can Still Dunk in the Dark” real-time marketing response. Their agility was universally praised - and their Tweet received 16k+ Retweets.
Power out? No problem. twitter.com/Oreo/status/29…— Oreo Cookie (@Oreo) February 4, 2013
Just ten days later, another brand had a moment when Republican Senator Marco Rubio paused during his rebuttal to the President’s State of the Union address to take a drink from a bottle of Poland Spring water. Poland Spring did not respond in a timely manner and missed an opportunity to connect with an engaged audience.
(The Senator, meanwhile, continues to engage and is now using the incident to help one of his favorite charities.)
What does this mean for the advertising industry in general? In the span of just ten days (between the Super Bowl and Senator Rubio’s rebuttal) real-time marketing moved from a brilliant tactic when done well, to a glaring mistake when missed.
The lesson from the #TwitterElection is clear: If you are not reacting in real-time (and planning for real-time) you risk being left behind.
In the upcoming weeks, this blog series will provide overviews of other discussions at the “Social - Planning for Real-Time” Agency Day including ways that Travel, HBA/CPG, Sports and Auto have planned social for real-time to make their marketing dollars work harder, and is also a part of IAB Social Media Committee member initiatives such as Paid, Owned, and Earned Media Best Practices.
About the Author
Susan Borst is the Director, Industry Initiatives at the IAB focusing on Social Media, B2B and Games. She can be reached on Twitter @susanborst.