First mover advantage: are you reacting in real-time?

Office clock

When you’re working to earn media, there’s a good chance that you’ll be interacting with the news. Part of what makes something newsworthy is the whole “new” part. If you’re clever and very, very fast, being first can be newsworthy in and of itself. For example, last week we had a bit of fun with Vine as it came out, and made a “6 second webinar” in our San Francisco office. Ordinarily, releasing 6 seconds of video would be thoroughly uninteresting, and certainly not new or newsworthy. But because it was part and parcel of Twitter’s re-release of Vine, it became newsworthy and got picked up in media outlets like the Boston Globe.

Likewise, we raced to get usable information published about Facebook’s Graph Search, even going so far as to buy the domain while Facebook was still giving its presentation. Why? It was new, and thus it was news – and the results of that particular campaign were incredible:

Audience Overview - Google Analytics

The rule we use at SHIFT (and that I’ve used for years, ever since first hearing it from Blue Sky Factory then-Director of Community DJ Waldow) is that content must be relevant, timely, targeted, and valuable. What’s vital to understand today in the real-time world we live in is that timely means right now, as news happens. Not a week later. Not a day later. Heck, not even an hour later in some cases. Do you have the capability, do you have enough bandwidth free, do you have enough industry knowledge to be able to react or act the moment that news occurs? Can you integrate your own insights and thoughts with the news as it occurs?

For example, Facebook released its Q4 and 2012 results yesterday in a scheduled investor call. One of the most amazing takeaways was that 680 million of their 1.06 billion active users are accessing Facebook on a mobile device, and a whopping 15% of them are mobile-only active users. What can you do with that news? If you’re a marketer, it’s an immediate call to action to check your web analytics and see how much traffic Facebook is sending you, because a significant chunk of that is going to be mobile. Consequently, if your website isn’t up to scratch for mobile compatibility, you could be spending and investing on Facebook, only to turn people away the moment they visit your website. If you are in the mobile space, how does knowing that so much of Facebook’s user base is mobile impact your marketing, your products, your services, your interactions with your customers? That’s your newsworthy item – but you must act in a real-time manner, releasing your news as quickly as possible while still being factually correct about both your products and the news itself.

<shameless promotion> This is why, by the way, PR firms and communications agencies are important even in a world where all of the raw information is available to everyone. The sheer amount of stuff to monitor and react to exceeds the available bandwidth and people resources of many companies’ marketing and communications departments to act in real-time, and it’s part of the reason why in-house PR can co-exist with agencies as well. When news happens, you have to have all hands on deck and react as quickly as possible if you want to earn as much attention as possible.

The world is fully and wholly a real-time world now. Make sure you’ve got your ear to the ground and are reacting accordingly.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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