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Everyone is buzzing about the upcoming Twitter IPO. When the company begins trading on the public exchange later this month, what will happen? Will it stumble out of the gate, echoing the challenges other social media platforms have faced? Or will it soar? Will it fail to meet, match, or exceed investor expectations?

All of this is great chatter for the talking heads on cable news. Even the casual consumer will be drawn in by the rapturous tale these pundits will weave, regardless of the outcome.

But beyond the headlines, beyond the “big numbers,” there is a real debate going on – one that has serious consequences for marketing managers at every major company. Does real, sustainable potential in this new wave of social media marketing exist?

More specifically – what does real-time marketing do for a company’s bottom line?

Noted author and marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, in his book, “Real-Time Marketing and PR” defines this concept in this way:

 “… products or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.”

Many of us remember the now infamous and timely Twitter post from Oreo that capitalized on this past February’s Super Bowl during the unexpected blackout.

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It was a watershed moment for the company and for proponents of real-time marketingthe sheer interactions and touch points generated brought Oreo unparalleled exposure and viral connectivity.

And let’s face it – it was cool.

During the Emmys this year, AARP of all companies capitalized on a mention by winner Jeff Daniels during his acceptance speech:

Daniels: “”The last thing I won was a few years ago for ‘The Squid and the Whale.’ I won best actor over 50 from the AARP. With all due respect to the AARP, this is better.”

AARP’s response?

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But again – does this exposure translate to the bottom line? Does this type of social marketing reach new customers or simply get batted around by current ones?

While marketing managers may be able to save money by capitalizing on these viral memes and hot buttons, the investment of time and energy to consistently stay abreast of the ever-changing social media landscape presents a whole bevy of new challenges.

This article from “AdWeek” crunches some more real-time marketing numbers.  What do you think? Is the investment paying off? What would you do as the CMO of your company?

Does Real-Time Marketing Work?