Real-Time Marketing: A Potentially Powerful Part of Social Media Marketing

If you’ve already started taking your social media marketing seriously and use it appropriately and responsibly, you’ve been building an audience of targeted, engaged followers with some interest in your brand. You may not have thousands of fans, but that’s OK; it’s far more valuable to have small numbers of the right people than astronomical numbers of people who don’t care about you. 

Assuming you’re connected to people who do care, you’re well positioned to try real-time marketing via your social media accounts. For the record, what we’re discussing can also be executed through email, mobile, content, and other digital marketing strategies—and even with old-school stuff like hanging a sign in your window—but social media is often the easiest, fastest, most effective avenue. 

What Does “Real-Time Marketing” Mean? 

Depending on whom you ask and the context of the answer, real-time marketing refers to various approaches. Even just on social media, it can refer simply to things like live posting and engagement or instant customer service, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. 

We’re talking about using your social media accounts to make short-notice, short-lived special offers to your target audience that relate to what’s happening in the world at the moment. It’s driven largely by one of those famously compelling consumer behaviors known as impulse purchasing. 

The People Are Always There, Watching

It almost sounds creepy. Maybe it is. But today, so many people are reachable around the clock through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other popular social networking sites. Don’t tell the boss, but they have their accounts open in a second window on their desktops at work. They’re always logged in and keeping an eye on things on their mobile devices. They’re perpetually scrolling down their home pages while they sit around in the evenings. 

Implementing Real-Time Marketing on Social Media 

So, what’s going on in your customers’ world right now? 

Are all the Floridians in Orlando struggling with a particularly frigid winter day? We know they have such a sad cold tolerance. Maybe you post on your social media accounts that you’re giving away a free hot chocolate with any purchase of a sandwich or salad during the lunch hour. Make one, pile on the whipped cream, sprinkle some cocoa powder on top, take a nice picture, and stick it up with your post. 

For other inspiration, go to the Fun Holidays page of or Google “silly holidays” and look at some of the results. There are zany celebrations of random subjects every single day of the year. Any brand can find some here and there that can be tied into their products or services. Don’t be afraid to embrace the bizarre or goofy… that’s one of the great things about social media: people like to have fun there. 

There are countless ways to go about it. Anything going on locally, nationally, or globally can work if you find a relevant angle. 

It’s also not difficult to get your fans doing a little extra promotional work for you. For example, give a 10% discount all day long to everyone who shares your original real-time offer. This can be a successful modern word-of-mouth way to reach new people to build your following and increase business. 

Does Real-Time Marketing on Social Media Work? 

Like any effort, results vary. Most importantly, you need a base of relevant, engaged social media connections who are part of your target market. If they’re in the habit of paying attention to you, you stand a good chance of making extra sales this way. And, if you don’t get carried away and abuse their attention, seeing occasional special offers can make them pay even closer attention to you. Nobody wants to miss a cool deal. 

Even if it doesn’t work, it doesn’t cost you anything to try. Over time, you’ll get a good sense of what your audience does and doesn’t respond to, even some additional insights into their buyer persona, and you tweak your real-time marketing campaigns taking into account what you’ve learned. 

Just Don’t Spam People 

These sorts of campaigns must be used in moderation. If you’re constantly advertising special offers, they cease being special and they quickly start to annoy people. Remember, they’re not on social media to feel harassed by businesses. 

Keep things relevant, don’t be pushy, stick to people who’ve opted in to hearing from you (this is easy on social media, as these are the people who’ve connected with you), and remember that people only stay with brands on social media that provide them with genuine value—not the selfishness of repetitive advertising.

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