The creation of online communities and social media sites have changed the marketing game. It has created a feeding frenzy where companies jump on every current event and trending topic in order to appear relevant. Really, it’s real time marketing in hyper-drive: the Red Sox win the World Series and Oreo congratulates them on Facebook.  Breaking Bad runs its final episode ever and Microsoft live tweets during it.  And when tragedy strikes in the U.S.A, Nike sends out condolences over all of its online platforms.

Companies think that if they post about what’s relevant and current then consumers will find them hip and trendy and pledge allegiance. The problem is that companies aren’t necessarily doing it right. Social media and communication sites are supposed to be for, well, communication. Companies are instead using them for loud-mouthed, obvious, in your face social spamming. They are commandeering the social trend so that they can say “Hey, look at us being so relevant, supportive or sympathetic.”

The strategy needs to be changed.  It’s too simple and consumers – despite what corporations may think – aren’t that stupid.  There’s nothing wrong with the concept of real time marketing in social media and online communities, it just needs to move from its current position of awareness being the number one priority to relationships being the number one priority. The three theoretical examples in the first paragraph are awareness examples. Oreo, Microsoft, and Nike are showing that they care but showing isn’t enough.  (And do they really care?  It seems a bit insincere and opportunistic.)  Who care if Oreo likes the Red Sox?  I like the Red Sox too, but I’m still never going to eat an Oreo.

What if instead of simply latching on to the current trend of the Rex Sox winning and congratulating them, Oreo instead asked fans what their favorite Red Sox moment of all time was? And how this moment compares? There’s the start of some dialogue and engagement. What if Oreo asked its fans to create their favorite moment from the final series in the icing on an Oreo cookie and then posted pictures onto their twitter feed, giving their followers recognition?

While these are spur-of-the-moment ideas, they exemplify that interaction creates relationships, and relationships create loyalty. It’s a simple concept and by putting in a little more effort and creativity, corporations would go a long way in making social media outlets a more successful marketing space.