Real-Time Marketing: 3 Lessons From The Great Dress Debate

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What started out as shopping for a wedding dress, quickly became a viral sensation sweeping the nation and much of the globe. Is it white and gold or blue and black?

Recognizing the start of a meme that offered the potential for real-time conversation, a brand reached out to our team to help drive engagement around #TheDress. In effort to reach the most receptive audience, we based our targeting on the following:

  • Keywords: We collected all relevant keywords happening around #TheDress conversation, such as – #goldandwhite and #blueandblack. This enabled us to target our Tweets so that they appeared in the search results for terms and phrases related to the conversation.
  • Usernames: Username targeting helps you connect with the right audience by allowing you to target your campaigns to people who follow specific usernames. For #TheDress, we captured handles of celebrities that were participating in the conversation and then re-targeted their followers with the brand’s content.

These targeting techniques, in addition to an aggressive biding strategy that was supported with superior creative, delivered impressive results: the campaign earned 191,807 engagements with a 5.249% engagement rate, and because the conversation allowed them to reach new audiences, the brand also earned 815 new followers on Twitter.

While it’s no secret that brands can achieve incredible success from real-time marketing, this example, along with other successful #TheDress efforts, highlight many valuable lessons for future campaigns. Here are some of our top tips to ready your brand to capitalize on the next viral sensation:

Stay Relevant

The most successful real-time campaigns stay relevant to the brand’s overall message and audience. For example, Oreo, another successful brand looking to join the same “Dress” conversation, was able to capture significant attention by simply placing their Golden Oreos and Regular Oreos next to each other in conjunction with the trending hash tag. While the message and the image were simple and easy to generate, it was very relevant to the target audience who was participating in the event. Because of this, they were able to gain 1.6k re-tweets and 2.2k favorites.


Embrace opportunities that on the surface may seem unrelated

Be ready to think outside the box – be open-minded. Just because the conversation that is happening isn’t always directly related to what your brand offers, you have to think about the mindset of the people participating in the conversation. A great example that illustrates this comes from XBOX. While ordinarily you wouldn’t think to associate fashion with the gaming community, a timely and relevant tweet visualizing their console garnered over 7,000 retweets from #TheDress discussion. The lesson here is that if your audience is there; find a way to join the conversation.

For greatest success: Unblock Bottlenecks

When it comes to real-time executions, reacting to spontaneous moments places a heightened importance on timeliness. In order for your brand to capitalize on real-time moments, your team must remove any potential bottlenecks that could slow down the process. Decisions at multiple levels need to be made in minutes, not days, and employees need to operate in an environment of action and trust.

We shared before about developing the right team structure, but one of the most effective ways to do this is to ensure that your marketing team has a “decision” maker on call ready to lead the charge – one point of contact responsible for approvals, budgets, reactions, etc. This setup will allow you to approve and push content to social platforms with minimal delay.