The Social Media Marketer’s Guide to Real-Time Social Promotion + Engagement

Christopher Spong
September 21, 2016
Tackling a real-time social opportunity may seem like a daunting task for many marketers, but with preparation and the right team members in place, engaging in real time can help brands score with fans. Use this guide for real-time promotion and engagement.

Since brands first took to social media to engage with customers, real-time social media promotion has been a staple in the marketer’s playbook. As social networks have grown and evolved, the ability to immediately engage with active users across platforms has evolved as well. From Twitter chats and event tweeting, to live streaming video, providing opportunities for fans to engage with a brand in real time can strengthen consumer relationships.

Although executing a campaign in real time may seem formidable, building a team of internal experts and thoroughly preparing prior to launch can help ensure things run smoothly. Planning for events by pre-drafting content, while remaining flexible as new opportunities to engage pop up, is essential to success.


Real-time engagement is often all about real preparation. Many social promotions can be executed by just one person, but having a team to help pull all the pieces together can be vital during live events or real-time campaigns. Additionally, different types of real-time promotions may require help from team members with different types of skills. When covering events with in-person fans, influencers, or customers, one team member should be focused on organizing the crowd and gathering signed release forms, while another snaps photos and video. During a Twitter chat, one team member should focus on publishing, while another monitors for questions to respond to and comments to retweet.

If a brand has a larger than local presence, it may be difficult for the social media manager or team to be at each event. This is where a “social media street team” comes in to help collect real-time photos or videos and actively communicate back to the brand team any changes or updates made in the planned social media schedule. The social media manager can then monitor, engage, and post the pre-planned content from another location with eyes and ears on the ground at the event.

Even the famous 2013 Super Bowl “Dunk in the Dark” tweet from Oreo was crafted by a team prepared to create and post content relevant to the game’s events. Although the social post seemed like a spontaneous win, the team came prepared to leverage its collective skills and act in real time. What resulted was a historic piece of real-time marketing content.



For marketers and users, 2015 brought a new and exciting component for real-time promotion and engagement: live streaming social video. Meerkat, Periscope, and Facebook Live enable users and brands to share a live look at events as they happen. This new type of content changes the way marketers must look at developing video content and how it is distributed. Because creating live video is as easy as pointing and clicking with a mobile device, marketers are only limited by their imaginations when creating engaging content.

Stories on Snapchat and Instagram are another way to share events and real-time promotions with fans. Images and video that expire after 24 hours allow marketers to be more flexible and to share content not intended for long-term promotion.

When selecting channels for live event coverage and promotion, it’s essential to consider where the audience engages most. While Facebook and Twitter may be the bread and butter for many brands, Snapchat and Instagram present opportunities to reach younger, more socially savvy audiences where they live and breathe.

UPDATED MARCH 2017: Facebook recently announced that users and pages may now utilize the Facebook Live functionality via their desktop computers, in addition to a mobile device. With the desktop integration, external cameras and professional streaming software can be utilized to give users a more polished live streaming experience. For marketers, the ability to share live video through mobile or desktop devices adds flexibility when publishing real-time video. Facebook Live via mobile devices will allow for easy movement during events, while the desktop format will add stability and ease-of-use for live interviews or screen sharing.



Before attempting to publish a live video or push a story to Snapchat and/or Instagram, creating an ideal shot list for photos and videos can help increase production quality and efficiency. Knowing which elements of the event or promotion are most important for the brand and its audiences can help ensure strong engagement with the content. Working with the team to brainstorm ideas, stage photos, and draft captions/copy will allow more fluidity during the live promotion.

Also important to consider before executing a live promotion are available resources. A real-time campaign is often resource intensive, so estimating how much time the promotion will take, knowing which team members are available for support, and how much budget is available for amplification will help set the campaign up for success.



Identifying opportunities to engage in real time is only half the battle. By building a team of talented individuals, selecting the channels most appropriate to the brand’s audience, and pre-planning for live events, social marketers can drive significant social engagement and awareness.

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