Real-time marketing fails from major brands

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Over the past year, we've seen real-time marketing (RTM) emerge as a powerful and popular social media marketing tactic. From tweets during the 2013 Super Bowl to more recent posts around the Oscars, brands have jumped on the real-time marketing bandwagon in droves. 

Real-time marketing fails from major brands

In fact, you might even say that real-time marketing has gotten a little out of hand. During this year's Super Bowl, we actually saw brands talking to each other on Twitter. For every well-executed example, like those from Oreo and DiGiorno Pizza, there are dozens of real-time marketing attempts that fall flat or worse. While the upside from a well-done RTM campaign can be tremendously valuable for social reach and new follower growth, the backlash from a poorly executed post can be much worse.

During this year's Academy Awards, for example, The Huffington Post took Lupita Nyong'o's win for Best Supporting Actress as an opportunity to promote Chelsea Handler's new upcoming book "Uganda Be Kidding Me." This tweet was nonsensical and offensive on several levels -- Nyong'o claims dual Mexican and Kenyan citizenship and so has no affiliation with Uganda, not to mention Chelsea Handler -- and the backlash was instantaneous, with Twitter users calling out this tweet for being both irrelevant and racist.

And a brand doesn't have to be offensive to fail at real-time marketing; trying to wedge yourself into a conversation that is in no way relevant to your brand will just result in a whole lot of nothing but awkwardness and wasted time, as seen in this Oscar's effort from TGI Fridays.

There are more tone-deaf RTM attempts like this than anything else, especially during large pop culture events like awards shows and the Olympics, as in this example from Klondike that saw a grand total of 13 retweets and six favorites. That's hardly the level of engagement most companies aim for on Twitter. Sometimes it might make more sense to not post anything at all. Oreo smartly sat out this year's Super Bowl and Progressive Insurance made a similar call. Just because RTM is the hot marketing tactic of the moment doesn't mean that it's right for every brand at every event.

So, what else can we learn from these less-than-stellar examples? Here are a few real-time marketing do's and don'ts.