Real-time use of social media allows businesses the opportunity connect with people in a way that mainstream media simply cannot achieve as effectively – largely because the bigger an organization, the more unresponsive it can become. In addition, traditional media does not allow for any sort of personal interaction or two-way communication to take place.
Not everybody has the second opportunity to go and study social media marketing or a digital media course so I’ve outlined just a few ways that businesses can take advantage of real-time social media to scale their reach with their intended audience.

Live video streaming

Just a few weeks ago I attended an informal industry talk in my home town of Nottingham, by peer web designer, and now friend, Alex Leeson Brown. He talked about his story and journey of becoming a web designer, including the highs and lows of the various places where he worked and the challenges he encountered. At the time of writing this, he’s already jetted off and settling into a new home in America in order to marry and live with his fiancée.
The whole event was filmed using a small inexpensive digital video camera that was mounted on a tripod and streamed live over the building’s Wi-Fi connection using a free service called Bambuser. What you can think about is what your business could stream live: what might you like to share with people who cannot be there with you? (If you’re interested in the above talk from Alex you can see it here.)

Propagate and share your content

If you’re already writing valuable and unique insights on a particular subject or topic, it can be incredibly beneficial to raise awareness of and propagate your content using the main social media marketing channels. What you perceive as common knowledge can be hugely advantageous for someone who’s new or less experienced in what you do.
For example, all of the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+) allow you to publish short snippets of text with the addition of hyperlinks. Whatever terminology they use – a status update, post, comment, or tweet – you can share links that lead to your content: your YouTube or Vimeo videos, a blog post or infographic on your own website, or another new website that you want to share.
Each platform has its own small intricacies, and whilst you might be tempted to publish the same update or snippet to each of your different profiles, social platforms or services, I actually recommend you don’t do this because you discredit or lose the personal connection with the people on the other end. The consensus is that it’s certainly better to be spoken to than to be spoken at.

Twitter hashtags

The Twitter #hashtag allows you to easily aggregate individual tweets into a single group or category, such as an event, place, city, topic, or subject. Event organisers often plan the use of a Twitter hashtag (example: #London2012) and make it readily known that it can be used during and prior to any event. This then ensures that people have a voice which is connected directly to the event and is collated in a way that can be seen by everyone else partaking in it or even expressing mild interest. Rather than comments or conversations happening in isolation, they are given greater contextual meaning and shared with everyone else involved in using this tag.
But beware: despite your best efforts or intentions, your tag can become hijacked, as was the case with McDonalds, whose customers used it mockingly.
The London 2012 Olympics is set to be a grand example of using a hash tag. #London2012 — go search for this tag, and you will see the thousands of tweets that are grouped together from all manners of people, including spectators, organisers and athletes alike!
The Nottingham city council also used a scaled-up version of this technique to create a Twitter social campaign designed to promote local business and commerce within the city utilising the hash tag #NottinghamRocks. Don’t be afraid to experiment with your own hash tag, especially if there’s something you do regularly that would benefit from people coming together to talk about it.

Involve yourself in the present

Rather than waiting to write a blog post roundup, article, or report at the end of the day, take the opportunity and seize the moment and participate as events unfold using the major social channels appropriate to your business, organisation, or event. The thoughts, ideas, and discussions generated through social participation can form part of your website’s content strategy and, unlike spoken conversation, is more easily recalled and readily adapted for further digital or online publication.
Hopefully, this gives you an idea of how you can start to incorporate real-time social strategies into promoting your business, whether it is an event, service or something else that you provide or wish to bring attention and awareness to.
About the Author
David Beastall writes on behalf of South Nottingham College who provide a range of multimedia courses in Nottingham.