The practice of using paid search such as Google ad words to buy adverts aimed at poaching business from competitors is well documented. But lately there has been an interesting development by e-commerce marketers in real-time in the form of ‘conquesting’ through social media platforms like Twitter.

For those prepared to work in the moment and brave such fast-paced, public environments, the rewards are great. Through a simple search and monitoring strategy, brands can step in with accurately crafted counter-offers whenever, for instance, they see consumers expressing doubt or dissatisfaction over a rival product or service, as the exchange is happening.

The difference between using social instead of search is that marketers are more likely to apply conversion tactics before the consumer has made an actual purchase. After all, a consumer could be swayed if a brand creates an intelligent, informed approach relating directly to their situation, especially if they are offering an attractive alternative.

But beyond poaching sales from competitors, or achieving any kind of click through rate (CTR), this tactic is extremely effective at increasing awareness and building brand profile. In response marketers are beginning to incorporate brand monitoring into their campaigns, formulating specialist teams to run manual searches against keywords or purchasing promoted tweets with this express goal.

Philips, Walmart and Nokia are just some of the brands that have successfully captured consumers’ attention through capitalisation of competing brand campaigns, whether or not they have gone awry. For example, when Colgate’s electric toothbrush swap-shop activation closed down early last summer due to crowd safety concerns at Waterloo station, Philips jumped in to ‘save the day’. It promptly produced a reactive campaign that spanned both digital and print display advertising that offered disappointed consumers the chance to win Sonicare products instead.

There are challenges, of course, in mastering online content marketing of this kind, not only in the production of a constant stream of relevant and impactful material but in the measurement of its effectiveness. According to a 2012 study by the Content Marketing Institute, 33% of B2B marketers and 41% of B2C marketers list an inability to measure content effectiveness as a challenge.

Fortunately, big data can be helpful in locating quality third party content and numerous providers have technology that enable marketers to discover articles, related tweets and relevant media around specific concepts.

However, it is important that marketers adopting these types of campaigns implement a strategy to monitor global content consumption, on-going social conversations, and what ‘passion points’ are trending and why.

For every clever marketer who has successfully jumped into a social conversation, there is another conversation that should have been ignored. By planning ahead to the types of situations that could arise or having a senior team that can react in real time, brands will be better equipped and therefore more likely to avoid any faux pas of their own.

Essentially, while these tactics may be new, ensuring the quality of the message and delivering content that will appeal to your audience remains unchanged. But it will be interesting to see how this trend develops and how marketers rise to this new challenge.