RENEGADE THINKING from the CEO of Renegade, the social media & marketing agency that helps clients make more out of less by transforming communications into "Marketing as Service."

Social Media Innovation + GRAMMYs CMO, Evan Greene


evan greene

As CMO of the Grammys (officially titled National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences),  it would seem that Evan Greene doesn’t have to go out on a limb to create engaging content. Most fans are already engaged, eagerly awaiting the next photo or tweet about their favorite music artist. But he and his team maintain that the biggest contributor to their success is their dedication to listening to those fans and joining them in dialogue, which is not quite as easy as it sounds.

To dig into this more, I had the pleasure of moderating a breakout discussion with Evan at The CMO Club Inspiration &  Innovation Summit in New York City last month.  It was a lively conversation with about 40 other CMOs covering a wide range of social media challenges, many of which Evan and I addressed on the spot (and rather pithily I might add!).  Since I am not a great notetaker, I recorded Evan’s responses, which are transcribed below for your reading pleasure. Given the GRAMMYs extraordinary success overall (ratings were 2nd highest in 21 years) and on social (13.8 million tweets during the show generated 862 million impressions), you’ll want to read on…

Could you talk a little bit about your planning process?
Our campaigns need to engage people and if they don’t, then social media is not going to help and we usually abandon it. It’s really for us about having a very respectful, two-way dialog that we think is engaging on a daily basis. We don’t come from the standpoint that we’re the authority, that we’re the expert, that you should listen to what we say, that we want to tell you what to listen to, who to follow, how to dress, what to do. We simply want to be where music is happening. We want to be a credible voice in music.

And the thing that we’ve discovered, the sort of the universal truth that we’ve hit upon over the last couple of years, is that people generally are looking for two things. They’re looking for discovery and they’re looking for community. And if we can enable the idea of discovery and empower the concept of sharability, then we are, by default, going to be leading to a greater, more robust community.

Can you share some of the innovative things that you’ve done in the last couple of years?
Innovation really is simply how do you add more to the conversation to make it more interesting on a daily basis? So some of the things that we did this year were simple, but engaging. For example, we’ve now live gif-ed our nominations show and the Grammy awards telecast. So we’re now creating gifs in real-time.

We also expanded the size, the scale, and the scope of what we call our social media command center onsite at the Staples Center during the show where we have more bloggers from more diverse areas from more diverse music genres and we try to get more people to tell our story for us. Because it’s one thing if the GRAMMYs talk to you about it and tell you about it. It’s another thing if people that you know and like and respect and trust are telling you about it.

How does content marketing fit into this discussion?
For The GRAMMYs, it’s all about content. Granted, we’re a non-for-profit trade organization, so we don’t have the budgets that you probably think we do. But we’ve made a pretty sizable investment in our content infrastructure because we want and need to be creating a lot of content. For example, we want to be creating engaging, short, episodic video pieces that are easily digestible and easily shareable.

In a lot of ways we’re fortunate because music overlaps and enhances so many different areas. A good example is the intersection between music and sports. So six years ago, at the Beijing Olympics, the biggest story was what’s on Michael Phelps’ iPod as he’s going in to compete for 8 Gold medals.

So we thought, since there’s always been that overlap between music and sports, we created a content program called Champion’s Playlist where we talk to professional athletes and say, “What’s on your iPod? What do you listen to to train, to get motivated before the big game, before the championship?” And this starts to become a shareable experience where you can now overlay what your playlist is with your friends’, you can see how some of these famous athletes, how their playlists overlap with your own. This gives us the opportunity to create a leaderboard, et cetera.

So you’ve done all this stuff. How do you measure it and do you try to differentiate social metrics from your broader metrics?
The easy answer is what are your ratings and how much money are you generating. Well, I look at it another way.  I see all of that as a consequence of everything else that we’re doing right on the front end. If we spend a whole lot of time on the front end, being really true to and respectful of our brand, and really making sure that we do the work to fill the pipeline, and if we create that conversation, if we create that relationship with music fans everywhere, then we’re going to be rewarded by people watching the show, we’re going to be rewarded by 99 percent positive sentiment. We’re going to be rewarded by the fact that our marketing partners are more engaged and happier than they’ve ever been before. Our revenue is going to increase. I think if we focus on the revenue and we focus on the ratings as the objective, it skews the narrative and it skews the story.

It used to be how many Facebook friends you had, right? And then it was, what’s the sentiment? But now the questions are getting a lot more detailed and a lot more sophisticated. And so that’s why listening is changing all the time. That’s why you need people who have access to the full Twitter fire hose. You need people who are doing more than just sort of skimming the surface with Google analytics.

We spent a lot of time talking about listening as a customer service channel and I think everybody recognizes that as a doable thing in social. I’m curious if any of you are listening for customer acquisition opportunities and if you’ve been able to systematize that and talk about that.
It is about credibility, and gaining the trust of your customers. You need to be where your customers are, and not necessarily only your own Web-site, and seek to create evangelists. So if your business is photography sales, you go to a photography forum where people are talking about a new camera. So, from a social media standpoint, don’t try to sell people with a link to your website and a price. Rather than talk about this new camera, utilize the buzz that is already happening organically, and re-tweet or re-post other credible voices in your community. Trust and credibility are powerful tools toward acquisition.

Well, you also brought up an interesting point which is sort of empowering employees to be social voices for the company as opposed to trying to control the conversation centrally.  Can you explain the advantages of this decentralized approach?
The key is, I think there’s so many divergent conversations happening all the time about all our respective businesses and the key is how do you channel those conversations. How do you channel all those disparate conversations into a cohesive dialogue? And I don’t know that there’s one answer to do that but one of the things that we did is we created what we call our Social Media Bible which has all of our correct URLs. It has all of our proper hashtags, all of our handles.

We distribute that to all media, and all of our friends, fans, and followers. We distribute it to artists and managers, labels, anybody that can possibly be having a music conversation. Now whether or not they’ll follow it is another story. But when everybody’s got the same consistent inputs and the same data, the results are usually stronger than they would have been otherwise.

Do you have any ideas as to how one can track word-of-mouth marketing and be able to then put some type of ROI to it?
I think one of the biggest fallacies and one of the biggest misnomers about social media is that it’s free and easy. And I think right now, the next big step is figuring out how you can track word-of-mouth marketing and be able to put an ROI on it.

How do you measure measurement analytics? What’s the value of having a bunch of Facebook friends? Is it the aggregation of tonnage? Is it who’s passing it along? All of that is being parsed right now and I don’t think anybody’s got the answer but there are some companies that are getting a lot smarter about it.

How do you approach social media innovation?
We try a lot of different things and the down side of trying a lot of things is that you fail sometimes. But every once in a while, you get it really right. And if nothing else, we’re always learning. Sometimes we make the right move, sometimes we don’t but we’re always in there. And frankly, the deeper you are into social media, the more you hear about trends first. So you can sort of pivot down the river and play around over here and see if it works and if it does, great! If it doesn’t, you just come back to where you were.

Q + A w CMO Award Winner Chris Brull of Kawasaki


brullEvery once in a while I meet someone whose job sounds like a lot more fun than mine.  After interviewing Chris Brull, Head of Marketing at Kawasaki Motors, I definitely had pangs of jealously.  I mean who wouldn’t want to ride bikes, ATVs and Jet Skis all in the name of customer and product research?  And then there’s the fact that his marketing mission is to reinforce the “wild, unrestrained, amazing fun” that his customers have using Kawasaki products.  Sounds like a winning formula to me and as it turns out, it also resonated with the folks at The CMO Club, who recognized Chris with their Rising Star Award late last year.

As you will see, Brull brings tremendous passion to his job at Kawasaki and is not afraid to take risks.  This sense of adventure made Brull an early proponent of digital, social and mobile, all of which helped build enduring connections with its fan base and drive new fans to Kawasaki dealers.  Read on to learn what Brull means when he refers to marketing Kawasaki not as a brand, but as a “lifestyle.”

Drew: Kawasaki Motors has a famously fanatical customer following. What are the things you are doing to maintain and improve loyalty among your customers?
I think you hit it straight on in terms of the fanatical following. We’re one brand (Kawasaki) and we have 14 different sub-brands, and 84 different models. You have to speak to these targets extremely authentically because these enthusiasts can spot a fake. To connect with them, we really have to know what we’re talking about. There can be no one-size fits all campaigns. You have to be very, very targeted and direct. Not every industry is as hyper connected with their customers as you have to be in power sports. You have to understand how people act, react, and think. We’re becoming real and authentic to the point where we’re almost a family member.

Drew: You said yourself that you have 14 different sub-brands and 84 different models. How do you stay close to your customers when you have so many different segments and so many hyper-focused initiatives?
Our company name is Kawasaki Heavy Industries. We’ve been around since 1870. We build products that are all about bettering people’s lives. Our company actually builds the Shinkansen bullet train. We build the fuselage of the Dreamliner. We build the factories where our products are made. It’s a crazy experience.

This is idea of Kawasaki Strong – the company that builds all of these things is actually the same company that builds these power sport products. If you look at Harley, they just build cruisers. Our engineering comes from something bigger and it’s very compelling for the customer. There’s a new campaign kicking off that will celebrate this engineering prowess.

Drew: Would you call this new campaign a re-launch?
It’s not a re-launch, it’s just re-telling the corporate story. We’re formalizing what the dealers have been doing for the past 15-20 years. There is a lot of story to tell, a lot of sex appeal that separates us from the competition. We call our appeal “intelligent rebel”. We’re not for everyone nor do we want to be. We’re about going further, faster. We’ve always been known for wild high-end performance. No one builds engines like Kawasaki. It’s just this rider feeling that we have created. Almost like you’re one with the product.  This is wild, unrestrained, amazing fun.

Drew: In terms of marketing, have there been any big surprises in terms of what’s really worked well?
We started testing our tools on customers via trial and error. Much of this stuff started to work. We were hooking these guys online long before the online bandwith was widely available. But it worked! We were giving fanatic customers their Kawasaki fix. They wanted to see the next big thing in Kawasaki and we were giving it to them. Our idea was to just give them a little bit. We were taking our content down to bite-sized pieces and giving our customers reasons to buy Kawasaki. The videos were shot in an elegant way that engaged, educated, and excited our customers. Our content strategy was ahead of the curve at that time. And there were skeptics within the company at the time but we were ultimately prophets and the strategy proved itself to be wildly successful.

Drew: As everyone moved online, experiential marketing was somewhat lost. Would you consider going back to experiential to be an innovation?
Personal interaction (especially in our industry) is still so critical. We might have a customer sitting on the website at 2am getting hooked. But at the end of the day, you can’t buy our product online. You still need to get the person to the dealership.

Demo rides are not often offered at dealerships because the dealerships have liability. That’s a strike against us. So, we create opportunities where we can show people the inside of our bikes and compare it to our competitor’s bikes. Tell the customer the Kawasaki story. People are hungry for knowledge. We get them fired up to ride. Now that I’ve told you what features we have inside of the bike, once I’ve showed them to you, then we go ride. I talk through what you’re feeling once we’re riding. It’s very experiential. Then you’re hooked. That’s the Kawasaki experience. We go to where our customers live and create our own experiential events.

Drew: How do you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing?   
The sale of units is our top goal. But we’re not necessarily holding marketing solely accountable to the sale of the unit. Local sales guys are tasked with the selling. Flat out awareness of the brand is one goal for my team. We are also looking at engagement levels in the digital space and floor traffic into the local dealerships. We also evaluate marks such as the strength of the brand, likelihood to recommend, and likelihood of missing the brand if it were gone. This is all very top line.

Drew: What are a couple things that you’re most proud of as the head of marketing at Kawasaki?
The first thing that comes to mind is our online integration into social and mobile because we were the first to do it in the industry. Another thing that I’m very proud of is the global launch of our products. One of the sexier ones we did was a Times Square launch for Ninja. We had a live broadcast globally and had 1.5 million people show up to the event. No one else in our space had done something on that scale. It was a big risk with a big reward.

One of my biggest accomplishments was actually internal at the company. When I started, trust needed to be built between the factory team and the U.S.-based marketing team. I was able to build an internal coalition within Kawasaki that proved that the U.S. marketing team was able to work with and add value to the home office in Japan. The Times Square experiential launch was the turning point for us. It was the first time that the Kawasaki message was the same globally and the content was the same globally for a product launch. To be able to pull that off and get people to work together and trust each other as part of a global coalition – that was an accomplishment. Now I get to be a team leader of that global coalition.

Drew: Have you been able to use the voice of the customer to affect not just marketing but product development?  
When I started at Kawasaki, marketing didn’t find out about a product until 6 months before launch. There was an inherent distrust. Now through the trust that we’ve built, our company has realized that it’s critical to listen to the voice of our customers. We also realized that product marketing was critical to separate ourselves in the market. We needed to understand the real reasons why certain products weren’t selling. One of the things we realized was that certain products sell better in certain places. For instance, 4 wheel products sell great in the US and not in Japan. How could a customer tell you about advancement? They can’t. But they’re giving clues all the time as long as you’re listening.

Drew: It would be remiss of me not to ask about social media. You have 800,000 fans on Facebook, a fair amount of activity on Twitter. Let’s talk about it from a customer service standpoint. Are you set up to deal with customer issues on social?
We were the first in our industry to have a social presence. So that’s something to be proud of. For me, it wasn’t enough to post a bunch of cool shots of cool bikes. It was really about the voice of our customers. We have our social team set up to respond almost 24/7. It’s critically important that we are sensitive to what’s going on with our customers. These hyper enthusiasts are our “friends”. They expect that Kawasaki the brand respond in real time. Our communities will often police itself and many times they take care of their own before we have to. We’re looking at it as social business more than social media. It’s almost a lead tool. The conversations actually go pretty deep. We’re sharing riding tips, riding locations, history of the brand, dealership locations. Another nice thing is that we’ve never bought a single fan on social. Our 800,000 fans are hard earned.

Drew: You talked about the interest in all of this related content. How far have you gone with product related content to keep customers interested and engaged?
We think that content related to “how the product works” is critical to our audience. Then there’s the “what it is” content. This is the physical product, how it’s supposed to performs, etc. Then you get to the most important piece: why. Why do you ride? Is it the wind in the face? Is it the escape? Leaving friends and family behind? Or is it riding with a big pack? It’s the inspirational part of riding. It’s a very mature market and being able to tap into that with our 26 different targets. When you get into our content, we’re hitting the why, the how, and the what, when we’re trying to excite these people. We tap into the lifestyle. We show people what goes on at Daytona Bike Week. Let me show you what’s going on with our Ninja ZX14 when they’re actually drag racing it. Let me show you what happens in Europe at the Isle of Mann TT. People are hanging on every morsel that comes out of the Kawasaki Corporation. They want to connect. They want to belong. So the product itself is almost a ticket to the Kawasaki party. The all-access content is a hook. This type of marketing is hard to pull off. The deeper we go, the more rewarded we are. After all, I’m selling a lifestyle.

Content Marketing is No Joke (Unless You Work at College Humor)


A rabbi, a priest, and a content marketer walk into a bar…. Bet you want to know what happens next, right? Well, patience, Vine-brain–you’ll just have to wait until I’m good and ready. Before then, I must establish why CollegeHumor may be the best source for lessons on content marketing in the known universe–lessons I gleaned from a recent interview with their CEO, Paul Greenberg. (Author’s note–this article first appeared several months ago on and is more relevant than ever even though Greenberg has since moved on.)

Greenberg took over as CEO in 2011 and since then CollegeHumor, a division of IAC, has laughed its way to the bank as site traffic has jumped to 15 million unique visitors per month and annual traffic was up 40% in 2011 and 20% in 2012. With over 4.5 million subscribers, CollegeHumor is also a top-ranked YouTube channel. Along with the 100 million monthly video streams, CollegeHumor fans also devour a smorgasbord of non-video content like comics, articles, and even a feature film,Coffee Town, that’s coming out next month.

So yes, there’s some funny business going on over at CollegeHumor. Their videos seem to go “viral” more often than bunnies make bunnies. Their 1 million Facebook fans are maybe the only happy army in the world, sharing silliness with serious consistency. Okay, with their bona fides established, here are the 18 things CollegeHumor can teach you about content marketing (and 1 they won’t).

1. Start With Talented People

Before you say, “Duh, Drew, I hope the other 17 aren’t so obvious,” let me just remind you that most marketer-created content is unadulterated dreck and the good stuff is more rare than an amusing mortician. Great content starts with great writers. Period. Explains Greenberg: “We have a phenomenal team of very creative people who are very good at what they do.”

2. Get Out of the Way

With content marketing becoming an increasingly important part of the mix, it might be natural to involve senior management. Not so fast, bored-room-breath–if the CEO of a company that is in the business of creating content stays out of it, then perhaps you should, too. Reports Greenberg, “I don’t see any need to micromanage the content team–I just get obstacles out of their way and let them do what they do.”

3. Don’t Start at the Bottom Line

Long before he became CEO at CollegeHumor, Greenberg had firsthand experience as on-air talent (radio announcer, voice-over artist) and with production at MTV Networks. He believes these experiences set up him up for success in his current role, adding, “If there is someone who has never been a creative before and never been on the talent side, you’re going to make decisions purely based on the bottom line–and probably the wrong ones.”

4. Foster a Fear-Free Zone

Even with a talented team, not every piece of content will be a huge hit and some might even bomb. Greenberg admits that even CollegeHumor only expects two or three of the 50 videos a month they produce to generate multimillion views. “You can’t be afraid to fail; you have to be willing to put yourself out there every day with something new,” he advises.

5. Crank It Out

While you need not create as much content as CollegeHumor unless you, too, are only in the content business, you still will need to produce a lot more than one (albeit scintillating) blog post per week. Reports Greenberg, “We’ve got [a video] that comes out every single day and sometimes more than once a day.” Even B2B brands will want to publish a steady stream of quality content, especially as your audience grows.

6. Muster All the Mediums

In addition to creating lots and lots of content for your primary channel, whether that be a blog or YouTube or whatever, you are well advised to be wherever else your customers and prospects might consume your stuff. “We actually do a fair amount of articles, comics, and funny pictures that drive 30% of our traffic, which adds up to three to four original non-video pieces a day,” says Greenberg. “We have a well-oiled machine that is constantly making sure that we’re getting our tentacles out everywhere,” he adds.

7. Master All the Mediums

Even though you’re now thinking broadly about your channel options, don’t think you can simply make hay by putting the same stuff on each platform. Greenberg has a separate production and writing staff for the articles like “8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need,” an article that got over a million views, “because it just got shared everywhere.”

8. Plan On Having a Penurious Plan

Knowing all the channels and types of content you’ll be creating gets you a few steps closer to having a content marketing plan. CollegeHumor plans out their content on a monthly basis and from one production budget. Greenberg tells his staff, “Here’s your pot for the month; some of you are going to spend more on some and less on others, and you know what you have to do.”

9. Seek Out Your Series

I may be going out on limb here, but chances are you aren’t rebranding your company or product every week. Then why the heck are you creating content pieces that are essentially one-offs? Says Greenberg: “We try to be consistent and let people know when things are coming out–that’s the best way to build an audience.” Creating a series of videos or articles will also increase the odds of building up a fan base over the long term. “People will discover ‘Very Mary-Kate‘ on its tenth episode and go back and watch all of them,” he notes.

10. Show Some Patience, Young Lucas

As they say up in Alaska, “Nome wasn’t built a day.” Accordingly, even if you are lucky enough to land on a great idea for a content series and go on to produce fabulous segments, don’t expect the whole thing to be an overnight sensation. “With the series you are less apt to get into [a topical] zeitgeist really quickly, so you’ll build an audience over time,” Greenberg cautions. “They’re not all going to be gems, but you get enough hits so that people start to realize, ‘Wow, these guys have something interesting going on,’” he adds.

11. Listen Like You Have Two Ears and One Funny Bone

Once your content is flo-ing like Progressive’s spokesperson, it’s more than an insurance policy to listen to your audience. By way of example, Greenberg tells the story of CollegeHumor’s live-action “Dora the Explorer” parody that started out as a movie trailer. “The Dora trailer was an enormous hit and our fans wished this was a real movie… so we made a 12-minute movie in three installments,” he explains.

12. Plan for the Unplannable

As they say in the latrine business, “Humor happens,” and when it does, CollegeHumor is prepared to squeeze it for all its worth. Greenberg points to “Gay Men Will Marry Your Girlfriends,” which they released right after Election Day. “It went crazy because it hit a nerve–it was really topical and it was well done,” he recalls. Like CollegeHumor, marketers also need to be prepared to execute quickly when topical opportunities arise.

13. Experiment Elsewhere

Not all content ideas are ready for prime time, so it’s a good idea for brands to have a safe haven to experiment. CollegeHumor accomplishes this by having a microsite called Hardly Working. “It’s a sort-of playground for us, so that’s where we put these weird ideas in motion,” notes Greenberg. Brands can accomplish the same thing by sharing content ideas with a carefully picked customer advisory group or via an employee-only intranet.

14. Support It in Social

Obvious O’Brien here just wants to remind you that once you’ve created your splendiferous content, don’t forget to share it on your social channels and monitor those channels accordingly. Greenberg has one manager “who spends all her time on social networks, is completely in the loop on what’s happening, and [also] pushes stuff to our PR partners.”

15. Dive Into the Data

If there’s something funny about your data, it’s probably not a good thing unless, of course, you work at CollegeHumor. “We have a lot of data [and] we spend a lot of time analyzing it,” declares Greenberg. “We’ll look at the ratio between likes and views: Is this getting shared a lot but not watched a lot?” This data also helps determine if a new piece of content should be serialized or given an extra boost (see next point).

16. Be Prepared to Push

If you take but one thing away from this article, let it be this: Viral doesn’t just happen. Even the best content needs a catalyst–a spark, if you will–to start the fire that, swears the arsonist, just happened. Admits Greenberg, “Once [a video] gets to the half a million level, we start to really pay attention and ask, ‘Do we need to give it a little push somewhere?’” Such a boost could be featuring it on the homepage again or reposting it on their various social media channels.

17. Lighten Up, People

If your content falls in the forest and nobody reads it, even your mother won’t care. Content marketing only works when your target wants to consume it and share it, which is why a touch of levity can turn your dry opus into liquid gold. This doesn’t mean you need to start hiring class clowns and making videos about college kids puking, but it wouldn’t hurt if your writers knew the difference between a punch line and punch bowl.

18. Short Is Sweet

Now it’s go time. You’ve got a plan, a channel or six, social media on standby, a newfound sense of humor and even an epic writer lined up. The only problem now is that your writer penned an epic. Cut. And I mean cut. When it comes to videos, short isn’t just sweet, it’s like being a Doritos salesman when the munchies set in. Confirms Greenberg, “We try to keep [our videos] under 2 or 2½ minutes–anything longer and people really just glaze.”

There you have it–the 18 things CollegeHumor can teach you about content marketing. As for the one thing they won’t… It turns out that they have something called “The SIV” that Greenberg describes as “our secret formula for viral videos that makes sure that certain videos have certain aspects about them.” Bummer he won’t share. As they say over at Electrolux: “It really sucks.”

As for the rabbi, the priest, and the content marketer, you’ll need to bounce over to this other post on TheDrewBlog for the rest of the story. I dare not sully these pages with such inanities. More importantly, you’ll also find my informative interview with Greenberg.

The Realities of Real-Time Marketing w Adam Naide, Cox TV


This is my fourth and final post on Real-Time Marketing this week!  Here’s the good news–I saved a really meaty one for last as Adam Naide, Executive Director of Social Media for Cox Communications provides a pithy and honest look at what’s worked and not worked in the world of RTM.

Drew: What’s been working for Cox TV in the area of RTM?

First, the Breaking Bad Final Season.  Our objective was to drive fan growth and increase engagement on @CoxTV during the final season of Breaking Bad.  Seeing the volume of social conversation, specifically on Twitter, around the final season of Breaking Bad, our team developed a real-time campaign to cover each episode of the final season with live coverage, engaging custom content, Vine videos, and a RT to win contest. As a result, the campaign attracted 3,145 new followers, nearly doubling the follower base on Twitter. It also led to 5,757 retweets.

National Donut DaySecond, National Donut Day.  Our objective in this case was to capitalize on real-time opportunities as they presented themselves.  In summary, custom creative was produced for Cox’s Facebook page tying The Simpsons to National Donut Day. The post saw immediate lift on Facebook and was promoted to amplify impact. Seeing that #NationalDonutDay was trending on Twitter, the team quickly posted and promoted the creative on Twitter as well.  As a result, the tweet saw 87% higher engagement than average tweets posted to @CoxTV and 67% greater cost efficiency than average promoted posts on the handle.

Drew: Can you give an example of a real-time program that didn’t work as well as you hoped?
Sure.  We had hoped to capitalize on social buzz around the MTV video music awards to engage music fans on Twitter while growing the fan base.  So @CoxTV live-tweeted the awards through an existing brand influencer “Sara” who had previously covered TV and entertainment for the brand. Unfortunately, Sara entered the live- tweeting event with a preexisting personality that didn’t jive with the VMA audience. She wasn’t a fan of the artists being featured and didn’t participate in the conversion in a relatable way.  In this case, the live-tweeting event garnered just 80 new followers and 1,024 retweets,

Drew: Can you gives some examples of brand RTM #fails?

Hashtag hijacking [is the most common #fail.]  Consumers “hijack” brand led hashtags to share negative brand sentiment, to the point that the hashtag is overtaken by the abusers and the original meaning is lost.  Here are three examples of #fails that the press pounced on: #McDStories#IloveWalgreens  and JPMorgan Live Chat.

Drew: Why do think brands fail so often to get RTM right?

Brands assume that the public perceives the brand in the same way that the brand perceives itself.

Drew: How do you avoid this?

Start with the current behavior of consumers and find ways to mimic, play off of, or join that activity. Don’t force an unwanted idea or perception on consumers. Monitor what organically bubbles to the surface in your industry or trending hastags that are relevant to the brand. As you would with a new acquaintance or friend in real life, find a common interest between you and the consumer and talk about that.

Drew: Let’s review some of the logistical issues when dealing with RTM.

DN: Staffing?  AN: Leveraging real-time opportunities requires full-time monitoring. Listening to social activity is the best way to find opportunities that bubble to the surface.

DN: Client Approval Process? AN: To take advantage of real-time opportunities, a level of trust must exist between agency partners and the client. Planned opportunities are created by the agency and approved by the client, but many real-time opportunities must be created and promoted based on shared goals and strategies for the year, without client approval.

DN: Brands Should Avoid? AN: Brands should avoid forcing real-time content. Steer clear of touchy subjects and irrelevant holidays. For example a baking brand should talk about Thanksgiving, but should not talk about Veteran’s Day.

DN: Barriers to Success? AN: Time and resources. Joining in on trending conversations requires the ability to identify the opportunity, ideate on a response, create content, gain approval and post. This process can be complicated on weekends or after business hours.

DN: The Right Metrics? AN:  Real-time marketing is really about exposure and sentiment. Metrics like reach, impressions, retweets, and earned positive buzz are all metrics that should be assessed.

Drew: How do you see customer care evolving in the age of social as real time marketing?

In our category, our competitors employee dedicated sales reps that mine the social chatter for customer complaints on Twitter… then will reach out to these customers with offers to switch. Many times, they will get to these vulnerable customers before the brand does. It’s become a new front in the competitive battle for market share, one tweet at a time.

Drew: Can you summarize with 3 key factors to getting RTM right?

  1. Relevancy: Do what makes sense for your brand, don’t force it.
  2. Creativity: Stand out, in a good way.
  3. Process: Have a plan for the unexpected. Be ready to take on ad hoc opportunities.

RTM: Being In the Moment with Marshall Wright, T3


Marshall WrightUnless you’re new to TheDrewBlog, you’ve probably figured out by now that I’m moderating a panel this week on real-time marketing down in warmish Florida. Marshall Wright, Director of Social Media at T3, is another illustrious member of our panel and brings lots of insights and experience to the conversation.  I particularly enjoyed learning about how the team at T3 has worked the Windows Phone into numerous real-time conversations.

Drew: Define real time marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

Real-time is being in-the-moment without looking like you’re trying to be in-the-moment.

Drew: What does it take organizationally to run a successful real-time program?

It takes knowing who you are as a brand, what your voice is, what your business objectives are and what your customers want from you. It takes buy-in from the C-suite down to the day-to-day client level, and having all the right people ready to take action. It takes technology and creativity. And it takes a shit ton of planning.

Drew: Tell me about T3′s real-time efforts on behalf of Windows Phones?

Over the course of over 50 brand and competitor device launches, we’ve learned that most device conversation happens within 48 hours of a launch so we wanted to take advantage of that while still staying true to who the brand is. So for the launch of a competitor device, we prepped by doing a ton of social listening and research to find what people were saying about key features likely to be announced – tone, sentiment, etc. and developed a messaging strategy and content to insert our brand at the right moments in the lead up, during, and after the announce. This allowed us to find the key brand–relevant moments for us to join the conversation, resulting in one of the most retweeted posts of the (launch) day.

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that T3 had a hand in and why?

Honestly, one of the most simple moments came a few years ago when the turtles escaped on the JetBlue runway at JFK resulting in a ton of delayed flights. This was shortly after the Bronx Zoo Cobra Twitter stunt, so someone created a JFKTurtles Twitter and started tweeting the journey of the turtles. It was great and caught on immediately. We were managing Windows Phone social and caught on to what was happening and started following along. Angry Birds had just launched that day on the phone and the turtles tweeted they were going to play a game of Mario Bros. It was a perfect moment for the brand to participate in the conversation without looking like they were just trying to be part of a “thing” and we had a great 4-5 tweet conversation with them in real-time that wound up on a list of the best brand responses to the turtles.

Drew: Why do real-time programs seem to fall flat so often?

Because there’s a perception that newsjacking – inserting your brand into every pop culture, trending moment — is real-time. And it’s not. Yes, it can be a part of that, but it really takes knowing who you are as a brand and where you fit. If your not authentic or relevant to the moment it shows immediately. As a brand, you need to pick and choose your moments.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

It’s smart strategy. At T3, we actually refer to it as “always-on” rather than real-time because it IS smart strategy. As a brand, if you’re going to be in social media, if you’re going to put yourself out there you should be ready to engage whenever your customers are ready to engage. Not just during key cultural moments but all the time. Have a social listening program set up and know what you’re listening for. Then engage when it makes sense all the time. Doing that sets up the foundation for you to be able to take advantage of those cultural moments in ways that makes sense for you and that give your customers a way to celebrate for you and with you, like in the JFKTurtles example.

Drew: Will we still be talking about real-time next year and if so why?

I guess it depends on what happens during the Super Bowl this year.

Real-Time Marketing Unmasked with Teresa Caro, Engauge


With the Superbowl just a week away, leading edge marketers are, in the fabled words of Tim Curry, “breathless with anticipation” of the potential Real-Time Marketing opportunities awaiting them. These folks have been scenario planning for weeks if not months with the hope that they can steal the show away from the ads, football players AND reigning RTM champ, Oreo. So its little wonder that RTM will be a hot topic this coming Thursday at the Social Media Insider Summit AND lucky for you, I’ll be moderating a panel on that very subject. Among my savvy panelists will be Teresa Caro, SVP of Social and Content Marketing at Engauge, who was kind enough to once again share her insights on this here blog.  Thanks Teresa.

Drew: Define Real-Time Marketing in the fewest number of words possible.  

Done right: Timely, on-brand content that is relevant to an event or trend, created to elicit an emotional response and/or drive action.

Done wrong: A shiny marketing object, fueled by a knee-jerk reaction, that once posted, makes you the subject of ridicule by your peers.

Drew: What does it take to launch a successful real-time program?

  1. Be realistic about your organization. Every company is different — has different types of legal regulations, different approval processes, different levels of trust in their agencies and employees, etc. The amount of preplanning required is ultimately determined by what it takes to ensure a brand feels comfortable navigating the real-time space.
  2. Recognize real-time marketing is more than a well-timed Tweet. You need to think of it more broadly as timely, on-brand content that is relevant to an event or trend, created to elicit an emotional response and/or drive action. Real-time can be how you handle a physical event in the social space. How you handle a crisis. It’s how you address consumer needs or consumer love or express of frustration. Take it into the offline world and it is the use of data and mobility to share messages with people performing certain actions or in a certain location.
  3. Have a strategy. What are your goals and objectives? What are you looking to achieve? What is your brand voice and tone? You need to have this first so when an event or meme presents itself than you have a filter to determine if the opportunity even makes sense.
  4. Have a plan. The extent of this plan depends on #1, #2 and #3.
  5. Promote it. I don’t need to remind you that the “build it and they will come” does not work here. It needs to be promoted somehow, someway to the right audience through the right platform.
  6. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t expect to hit it out of the park the first time around – and if you do, You Go Girl. This is something that requires practice, a theme, relationship building with your fans so they are ready to receive it and promote it, etc.

Drew: Tell me about your RTM work with Chick-fil-a?  

7.3 million fans on Facebook, 333k followers on Twitter and 36.8k followers on Instagram doesn’t happen overnight. It requires daily care and feeding to grow and ensure there are engaged audiences to receive the content and have an emotional response… Without the ongoing piece, there would never be anyone to create a big bang. As a result, we take an integrated approach of great planned content, real-time fan engagement and opportunistic content. Examples of real-time include:

  • Unplanned and reactive –
  • Planned and reactive -
    • We spend a lot of time working on our monthly content calendars, getting them approved and getting them scheduled, yet sometimes you need to pivot when you have an opportunity such as acknowledging how cold it is through out the U.S.
  • Planned and proactive
    • And sometimes you just need to be prepared for what’s coming and be timely, relevant and unique. How many did something relevant to New Years vs. heading back to work?

Drew: Why is real-time so hard to get right? 

  1. No objectives
  2. No brand definition
  3. No talent
  4. No process
  5. Too much process

Drew: What’s your favorite real-time program that your agency didn’t have a hand in?

Mini (see link.) This isn’t the first time BMW Mini did a campaign like this. They did a campaign several years ago and coupled it with social listening. They found the share of voice they received for the campaign back then, generated sales three months later.

Drew: Should we be talking about real-time as a separate thing or is just part of a smart social strategy today?

Part of a smart social strategy. Goes back to why it’s so hard to get it right… it’s currently a shiny object, fueled by a knee jerk reaction… it’s rare you’ll get this right.

Drew: Will we still be talking about real-time next year? If yes, why? 

Smart marketing and really bad marketing will always be talked about. Take a smart piece of content that was turned around in amazing time and it will always be talked about… Well, that is if it’s promoted the right way.

Drew: Okay.  Lightning round.  Let’s bang through the logistical issues…

  • DN: What does it take from a staffing standpoint?  TC: Depends on how much you want to do, what types, how frequently (special events vs. continuous)
  • DN: Client approval processes? TC: Some brands can’t manage to pull this together because there is such need for multiple approvals of one post
  • DN: What brands should avoid altogether? TC: Topics that don’t align with their brand. Emotionally charged topics.
  • DN: Other barriers to success? TC: Lack of planning. Lack of understanding their own brand. Lack of understanding what they are looking to achieve.
  • DN: What are the right metrics? TC: Depends on your objectives.
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