How to Master Real-Time Marketing: a Guide to Finding Viral Moments

February 25, 2016

Written by NewsWhip

When brands jump on a conversation about an ongoing topic, it’s like unexpectedly seeing a favorite celebrity out in the wild. This marketing trend is called Real-Time Marketing, and it has a colossal impact.

Whether the message is humorous, thought-provoking, or interesting, a post on a trending topic or event creates a memorable, deeper experience between brand and audience.
Establishing a brand personality and voice is essential to making a brand accessible to its audience on social media. Real-time marketing is a way to do that.

Why Real-time Marketing?

Real-time marketing is when a publisher or brand joins the conversation as a trend or event is unfolding. This can be as simple as jumping on a meme or a trending topic on Twitter, or taking the time to respond to an event.
Real-time marketing lets a brand create repeated, relevant, and defining moments for followers.
The most famous real-time marketing success story is from Super Bowl XLVIII, when Oreo tweeted during the game’s famous power outage. The in-the-moment tweet saw over 15,000 retweets and 6,600 likes.

Engaging in this ‘newsjacking’ can drive significant engagement. Brands that tweet about unexpected occurrences during major events see a 1200% increase in retweets per follower, according to Chris Kerns, the author of Trendology. Targeted events see 400% more retweets and 421% more likes than the average tweet for brand.
So it works. Let’s see how we can get started.

How To Find The Right Trends And Moments To Respond To

Instead of blindly stumbling through social media to find the moments that are going viral, we can use tools that cut through all that digital noise.
Real-time marketing used to be difficult, taking time, money, and people to sort through fragmented sources. With Spike, our social tool that lets you track and monitor it all from one source, RTM becomes faster, easier, and economical.
Spike enables us to see what over two billion social media users care about right now. Our platform watches over two million articles per day, shortly after they’re published.
Tracking a wide range of digital objects—including articles, videos, Facebook, and Instagram posts—Spike gives a singular view of the content that matters now on social.
Global media and marketing agency DigitasLBi uses Spike to help their clients find the real-time stories that will resonate with their audience.
One of their clients, a Dutch insurance company, is always trying to find funny news regarding damages. Thanks to the real-time news reporting of Spike, they quickly uncover the amusing stories bubbling up concerning damages, and use the stories to engage their audience.
The results? Hours saved each day, faster delivery of real-time marketing communications, and smarter and more engaging interactions with their followers. Social tools like Spike let us find those perfect campaign and content themes first.
So what exactly can we do with Spike?

  • Analyze topics and keywords a specific piece of content is associated with
  • Track engagement across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit, LinkedIn, and Pinterest
  • See top or recent tweets on a specific piece of content
  • See influencers on a specific piece of content
  • Track trending creators and influencers
  • Analyze how specific engagement changes over time
  • Add specific stories and content to a watch list

We can track the events worth responding to. We can also find great content to repurpose and share, like publisher LittleThings, who boosted a video from 200,000 to 2.5 million views after they discovered it on Spike.

Step 1 – Look At What’s Happening Now

Spike is powerful enough to let us filter from a month down to the hour’s view of the most-engaging stories on social. If we want to see what’s happening that’s relevant to our brand, we can tighten the scope.
Real-time marketing happens fast. You don’t need a war room to deliberate each message. Know your brand’s voice, and respond to the topics that resonate. Like the Oreo example, the Super Bowl has little to do with cookies. Nor did the infamous white/gold or black/blue dress that sparked social media responses from Dunkin Donuts to the Salvation Army. It’s about knowing your brand, your brand voice, and finding a way to add value to the conversation.

Step 2 – Find What’s Relevant To Your Audience

Spike also tracks over 20 countries, and hundreds of regions and major metropolitan cities. Consider the stories that are relevant to your brand to strike the right chord with your audience and strengthen your brand voice.

steptwo_region2A one-hour view of Washington DC’s trending stories (11:30 am, 2/24/16)

You can focus down further to look at specific categories, for stories more relevant to your brand, such as sports, technology, or beauty.

steptwo_categoryThe most-engaging tech articles over the past three hours show us that hoverboards are trending in the social sphere

Any of these can be saved as custom panels you can return to. Find what matters to your audience in the moment and you can better tailor your content and social media to give them what they want. NASA jumped on an all-day event with the 2014 Oscars when the space movie Gravity was nominated. All day, NASA tweeted photos with the hashtag #RealGravity.

By combining the trend of the Oscars with space facts, they delivered content to their audience that was relevant, timely, and engaging.

Step 3 – Explore By Platform

We can also dive into a specific platform to find those conversations: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Reddit, if we’re so inclined. Let’s look at Twitter, since it’s often considered the real-time marketing platform. Spike analyzes public tweets published on Twitter and ranks them based on social interactions.


A view of the top tweets around Facebook’s launch of Facebook Reactions

We can cross-reference with current events and trending topics on Twitter to see what the most popular tweets are already on the subject. We can dive into the visuals to see exactly how that engagement is mounting, and if it’s worth joining the conversation.


How fast the Viral Buzz News’ tweet is taking off reveals just how hot the topic is

It could be something currently on the public mind, or a fake national holiday. Jumping on a trending hashtag means more people will see your post, and if it’s witty or resonates, it could see tremendous engagement.

Toastin’ the competition. Ya know, since it’s #NationalToastDay.

A video posted by NHL (@nhl) on

The NHL jumped on #NationalToastDay on their Instagram account, scoring over 62,600 likes and 1,100 comments for a post that had nothing to do with toast itself.

Step 4 – Check who else is talking

On that note, you can search to see what others are saying about any event or topic you discover in Spike. We can find the most successful posts already on a trending event.


It’s Oscars season! We can check the top stories taking off in Facebook and who’s producing them

We can also investigate any competitors or publishers we identify as a standard. You can benchmark your response with theirs, if they have responded.


We can see what top sports publishers have already said in regards to specific events, and how they’re engaging with their social audiences

That roundup of publishers can be saved as a panel to compare again in the future. You can stay ahead of what everyone else is doing. Or be cheeky and respond to other brands and creators.
When Arby’s tweeted at Pharrell during the GRAMMYs, the tweet skyrocketed with over 79,000 retweets and 56,000 likes. Other brands jumped in on the tweet, and Pharrell himself responded.
Interactions between brands on Twitter make the brand seem more personable. This little Twitter battle between Penguin Random House and Melville House created a real-time brand experience for followers to watch and interact with. Followers then feel like they were there for a monumental event as it unfolded in real-time.

The Value Of Real Time Marketing

Does real-time marketing work for everyone? It’s a matter of fully understanding your audience, your brand, and your brand’s voice.
By knowing your brand’s voice, you cut down on the need for a brand newsroom and instead encourage action over excessive deliberation. By adding value to ongoing conversations, your brand is set aside as being funny, provocative, or interesting to a growing audience.
With Spike, you can track topics to specific content, see how they’re engaging, and how to pivot your message to add to the conversation. You can streamline your efforts by exploring the trending topics Spike uncovers.

Request a demo of Spike today to find the stories that matter to your audience now.

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