Quick. When you think about real-time communications, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? If it’s the infamous Oreo You Can Still Dunk in the Dark tweet, you’re living in the past. That campaign happened more than four-years-ago – ancient history in the world of real-time marketing.

Leave your traditional mindset behind

According to content marketing guru David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing and PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly, agencies and companies are basing their real-time marketing strategies on a traditional PR stance.

“They come at it from the perspective of pitching, advertising and a product-centric approach,” said Scott. “I think it ultimately requires the skills of a journalist. Whether that’s coming from an agency, or whether that’s a full-time person who works for the client side, it is important to have the skills of a journalist.”

Ride the relevancy wave

Real-time communications have become the most viable way to garner spikes and relevancy waves for your brand. This approach is a powerful way to amplify your message when your audience is most primed to care. In order to do this successfully, you need to develop internal structures that support nimble responses.

When Cannes Lions winner, David Beebe was VP of Marketing at Marriott Content Studio, he instituted a “45-minute rule” based on the idea that’s how much time the leaders of a brand unit need to edit or change a real-time statement prior to its release. This stops people from holding up an announcement while allowing them to retain some control if something is inaccurate or needs editing. Scott, however, believes that only large companies like Marriott have the structures in place to be successful at real-time response.

“There are some agencies that are set up nicely to be able to accomplish that,” said Scott. “If you’re IBM, perhaps you can staff a 24/7 newsroom 365 days a year, but many brands that have a significant budget and a need to do real-time may not be able to pull off a 24/7 approach.”

Take the plunge

If responding to consumers 24 hours a day keeps you up at night, you’re not alone. Professionals from a variety of companies including IBM, StubHub, Verizon and Hilton have all admitted that responding quickly enough to opportunities weighs heavily on their minds. However, it is in your benefit to take the plunge.

While real-time might place additional stress on your communications strategy, the companies who can do real-time communications successfully reap all of the benefits. Ultimately, people want to communicate with companies in real-time. It’s gratifying to get a response in two to three minutes rather than two to three days. The organizations that understand this are the ones that are going to be more successful, no matter what business they are in.

By acknowledging the shift in communications and adapting to real-time, you become a business that people are eager to do business with. “People don’t have the time they had before,” said Scott. “They fully expect that they’ll be able to engage instantly, and you’ve got to be able to accommodate that.”

Listening more carefully and responding to customers in real-time will give your brand a competitive edge. By understanding where the market is right now, entrepreneurs will see an increase in engagement and a larger prospect pool.