Why Real Time Is Still Relevant

I read a blog post today that took issue with the expression ‘real-time’ Lindsey McCaffrey said she doesn’t want to see it in our copy as she argues that in today’s connected world the expression no longer has any power.  

I want to disagree because ‘real-time’, while it may have been around for a decade or more still has tremendous relevance, not least because so many organisations are still struggling to get come to terms with it.  

Take for example, responding in real-time to conversations and complaints about your brand online. Is everyone so slick at this now that the whole idea has become passe?

I don’t think so. You only have to read David Meerman Scott’s excellent book Real Time Marketing and PR to come across myriad examples of the need to engage swiftly with detractors in yes – real time. I have championed this book before but I do think it is a must-read for anyone working in marketing and PR during this time of enormous change.  

My own example of failure in real time came only this weekend. I was struggling to work out how to use a new pair of Speedo hand paddles which I bought for my first-born. She needed them for swim training the next day and there was a sense of urgency about the task. However,despite coming with yards of plastic surgical cord which clearly had to go somewhere, there were no instructions on the packet. I searched online and came up with nothing and so decided to follow Speedo on Twitter to see if I could raise some help that way.

Despite tweeting directly @speedo and using a swimming hashtag I got no response in real-time or any other time for that matter. Despite having a Twitter account, Speedo_uk obviously don’t monitor their social media, which has got to be a mistake.

My point here is that some real-time response would have transformed my experience of their brand and would have encouraged me to make more Speedo purchases in the future and as a swim mum I can tell you there are plenty of those coming up! Speedo corporate tweeters clearly don’t work on a weekend (do they work in the week either?) but a company empowering large numbers of staff to monitor and respond 24 hours a day, whenever they happen to be online could have spotted this and dealt with it.

People’s frustrations happen in real-time, they happen now and need addressing swiftly. If you wait until the next management meeting to clear issues, discuss them and act on them, you are never going to get this “always on world” – you will always be playing catch-up.

So let’s hear it for real-time – there is life in those two words still.

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