The lights went out at the Superdome. What did everyone watching the Super Bowl do? Check Twitter, of course… and then buy some Oreos. It was unbelievably quick thinking to take advantage of something on the minds of millions, then to create a quick and simple ad and spread it to everyone in a matter of minutes.

Now we all appreciate the value of marketing in real time, but let’s not rehash something from more than half a year ago. Let’s talk about what your company can do right now.

Let’s start with paying attention to comments. Some companies are notorious for poor customer service. Have you ever tried to talk to your cable company when your Internet is down? Have you ever had a good experience calling an airline when you have what they would consider a “minor issue?” On Twitter, however, all you have to do is tag the company and you may be surprised at the response. Some of these companies have gained major support due to these real-time responses; being sure to have someone monitor your social media accounts is vital to real-time marketing, too.

Plan ahead for special events as well; you obviously can’t plan something like a power outage at the Superbowl, but you can have someone manning the presses just in case. Plus, sometimes you can create something special in real time: Pick an event associated with your business, and let all your followers know you’ll be watching and commenting so they can join in the dialogue.

Jumping on a hot news item, while extremely risky, can also result in a lot of publicity; you just have to play the right story and the right angle to make sure it’s all positive. Sometimes a developing story will end up somewhere you don’t want it to go.

In reality, all social media marketing takes place in real time, but using it the right way will determine its impact.