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Real Time Marketing: When Cute Animals Attack

In a political climate characterized by divisiveness and aggressive social media posts – mixed with a healthy amount of “fake news” and “alternative facts,” there is one thing – and one thing alone – that unifies people, that brings people together, and on which all humans can agree.

Baby animals are really freaking cute.

There’s just no argument against it. Baby animals are adorable and the internet LOVES them. In my speeches, I often make jokes about cat videos and dog photos and how to use it to your advantage in your marketing. This blog post actually isn’t about that – it’s a spotlight on tremendously successful real-time marketing made entirely with cute, baby animals.

Just two short days ago on January 25, the National Zoo in Washington DC tweeted out a photo of its newest resident, a gray seal pup. A resident in the area challenged the Virginia Aquarium to post a cuter photo and suddenly the #cuteanimaltweetoff battle began. The Virginia Aquarium answered back and then the Bronx Zoo, Zoo Atlanta, the Philadelphia Zoo, Zoo Miami, and many, many, more all began tweeting their cutest baby animal photos. My favorite: the LA Zoo’s brilliant photo of a sloth with the caption “I got here as fast as I could…”. To read the full story, check it out here. You’ll love the photos.

My tools counted 706 posts, 520 users, and more than 75 million impressions on the hashtag for #cuteanimaltweetoff alone and that number will continue to grow as more articles are written and those same tweets continue to gain traction. Personally, I hope it’s one that continues to grow because we all know there is no way to get enough baby animals in your life.

So how does this relate to marketing and how can it apply to your business?

Quite simply, it’s a reflection of the importance of real-time marketing. Real-time marketing is a marketing technique that leverages current trends and relevant, immediate feedback from customers and followers.

As society becomes more jaded and internet users become more savvy, real-time marketing stands out as something that makes a brand relevant, unique, and attuned to the world around us. Is it easy? Absolutely not. And just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you should, but it’s something you need to keep in mind so that when it makes sense for your business, you’re ready to act. Case in point: OREO’s brilliant post/ad when the lights went out during the Super Bowl (“You can still dunk in the dark.”).

So how can your business get in on the real-time marketing action?

Before you go crazy and start jumping on the first trending hashtag you see, ask yourself these questions.

  1. Does it make sense for my brand to comment? It might not. If it makes no sense, let it go.
  2. Is there any way this could be interpreted as classless, tasteless, or tacky? This is usually the case when brands leverage a celebrity death or anniversary of a tragedy (like 9/11). Be careful and always be respectful — here are some tips, if you choose to go this route.
  3. Is your response on-brand? Is a snarky response completely at odds with your normally professional demeanor? Then don’t do it. Rethink your contribution.
  4. Is there a dialogue that can or will accompany it? One of my favorites is a dialogue between Old Spice and Taco Bell asking about ingredients. It’s clever, it’s on-brand, it’s funny, and it isn’t tasteless. And fundamentally, they both won in that dialogue. The spirit wasn’t to bring one down, it was to bring both up.

While social media seems to (generally) trend toward drama and negativity, many of our favorite moments are all related to more positive thoughts – cute animal photos, happy holiday posts, clever brand dialogues (or searing comebacks), and stellar customer service. All of these can tie into real-time marketing strategies or opportunities. The first step is understanding what makes sense for your business to use as a real-time marketing example. Once you’ve established whether your idea is sound, you need to implement monitoring tools (analytics, sentiment analysis, social listening) and ensure you have quick and polished execution: be clever, be respectful, be awesome.

So, what’s trending for your business?

If you’re looking to change up your real-time marketing strategy or are looking for opportunities to grow your online visibility, contact us to learn more about what we can do for your business or your marketing teams.