5 Reasons the WWE is Bodyslamming Social Media

WWE-Social-Media-PanelWith over 23 million fans and followers on Facebook and Twitter, the WWE has long been a standout brand in terms of harnessing social media for brand awareness and tremendous amounts of fan engagement.

In a session for SXSW interactive on Saturday, Echo’s CEO and Co-Founder Khris Loux joined the WWE’s Perkins Miller, Stephanie McMahon, and Superstar John Cena to discuss how the brand’s integrated marketing and content strategies are driving that engagement by connecting their Superstars directly with the brand’s fans while delivering exclusive content and real-time experiences that demonstrate the potential of social TV. Beyond engagement with fans, however, they offered some more interesting insights into how social media has become a key part of every brand initiative.

Here’s some takeaways from this piledriver of a session.

No More Fear of Social Media

Cena, like many brands, was initially skeptical about joining social networks. He wasn’t sure just how much transparency he wanted to offer fans of the WWE, and had thought of the horror stories of misguided tweets. In the end, he’s been won over by social media’s ability to connect with fans of the John Cena and WWE brands. Many brands are still skeptical, but John Cena has seen that skepticism disappear now that’s he’s joined the platforms and started engaging.

New Branding Opportunities can be Created on Social

Cena discussed the time an on air comment made by one of his famous opponents, The Rock, regarding his colorful appearance bearing a resemblance to a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, trended on Twitter. Fruity Pebbles became a top trend that night and Cena has gone on to sponsor the product. He notes “I was the first celebrity to displace Fred Flintstone on a box of cereal.”

Social Media for Every Department of your Brand

Perkins Miller, EVP of Digital Media, notes that social has become so embedded in the WWE corporate culture that Chairman Vince McMahon requires weekly reporting from each department on how they have used social media to drive business goals that week. Not simply Marketing and PR departments; but HR, finance, investor relations, etc.

Transparency Has Many Benefits

Loux and McMahon also discussed how, as a public company, the WWE uses social media to keep investors up-to-date on all of the goings on within the brand. They note the WWE Investor Twitter account as an example. Loux says with social, there’s no longer a need for investors or potential investors to sit and wait for each quarterly report. Doling out small chunks of information, even in tweet form, has proven vital in keeping investors fully informed.

Social Media and Monitoring Instant Reaction

Miller notes that after every Monday Night Raw program, the brand produces detailed social media reports including sentiment analysis. They’re keen to see just how social media users are reacting to the characters and stories they’re met with every week. McMahon notes that it’s important to put human eyes on sentiment analysis. “If the bad guy is getting negative sentiment, that’s a very good thing.”  The brand can also see which moments, which interviews, and which zingers really landed that night. The next “Fruity Pebbles” moment could be splashed across that next top selling T-shirt. Social media’s instant response is essential for the brand to react quickly to produce new products and content that strike a chord with their audience.

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on March 9, 2013.)

Sesame Street Teaches a Lesson in Content Marketing

cookie-monsterOn July 10, the hit song many of us still can’t shake from our heads, Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe”, once more took social media by storm.

The song, referenced in image macros and parodied by just about everyone, went viral again, this time featuring a lead performance from famed baked-goods enthusiast, Cookie Monster.

This hilarious sendup of one of pop culture’s biggest sensations is another reminder of how Sesame Street has managed to continue teaching the world, moving now to lessons on integrating social media into one’s branding and marketing strategy. The Cookie Monster video is the latest in a long line of excellent YouTube content Sesame Street has been producing for years now.

Currently, the company’s YouTube account has over 763 million total views with Cookie Monster’s latest performance already capturing over 1.6 million views. Their most popular video to date is “Elmo’s song”, released in 2009 and currently sitting at over 72 million hits.

Tweets From The Street

As a television program, it’s easier for Sesame Street to incorporate the video sharing giant into its social media strategy than most brands. Sesame’s social media presence, however, doesn’t stop there.  Big Bird, The Count and friends are all well represented on the brand’s Twitter page as well, it’s no wonder the account has attracted over 800,000 followers to date.

Sesame Street’s Twitter following is all the more impressive when you consider that young children, their content’s ostensible target audience, don’t occupy a notable chunk of Twitter’s user base. Adults are following along, as Sesame Street churns out fresh, funny tweets on a daily basis. It gives parents and educators everywhere plenty of fresh content and resources to share with their children and young students at home, and in the classroom.

Stuck for Content Ideas? Listen to your Fans!

We’ve previously written about the value of allowing your audience a say in helping you produce fresh new branded content. Sesame Street’s smash hit Cookie Monster video, in fact, appears to have come about thanks in large part to reaction from their social media fans. On June 18, they tweeted the following:

While many Sesame Tweets get plenty of shares, that particular tweet hit over 9100 retweets, and the Sesame Street team took notice. In a new tweet on July 10, while launching the Cookie Monster video, they made note that their fans helped give them the idea for the video.

The main Sesame Street handle isn’t as heavy on two-way interaction just yet, but Sesame Street’s Director of New Media Communications, Dan Lewis, is a very active tweeter from his personal account as well.

For over 40 years, Sesame Street have been pioneers in the art of finding fun and engaging ways to educate us. With the rise of social media platforms, they’ve found one more way to keep helping us learn.

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on July 11, 2012.)

5 Tips for Adding Humor to Your Social Media Strategy

cookie-monsterEarlier this year, Forbes published a piece advancing the notion that funny people may actually have an edge in business. They note that when people use humor successfully in their business interactions, “they are connecting with people and building relationships, which creates opportunities that other people may not have.” The same can be said for social media.

A good sense of humor is a valuable asset in life; not just for individuals, but for businesses as well. The saying “everyone loves a good laugh”  is worth remembering when you’re formulating your approach to social media marketing/engagement.

Here are five things to keep in mind when using humor as part of your social media strategy.

Choose Your Topics Carefully

Our politicians and political parties (on both sides of the spectrum) often make it embarrassingly easy to poke fun and score cheap laughs at their expense. It’s your brand, so stay true to yourself, but tread carefully with topics like politics, religion, race, and gender. One ill-advised gag could falsely identify your brand with a political movement or ideology, whether you like it or not.

Also, keep in mind your target audience. What plays well in one part of the world may be completely lost on another. Will that wisecrack elicit a chuckle in Spain or India as easily as it will in the United States? Humor is subjective and varies across borders.

Focus Group It

Everyone loves a good belly laugh, but humor is highly subjective. To successfully add humor to your social media activity, it may take some focus grouping. That doesn’t mean assembling a group of randomly selected people in a room each time you wish to tweet something you think is clever; the logistics would be a nightmare. Bounce your humor off co-workers, however, whenever possible and see how they react. I’ve had some of my own groan-inducing “zingers” excised from my posts in the past, and I’m probably the better for it.

Keep Your Finger on the Pulse

Your social media team should stay on top of what’s happening in the world of current events and pop culture. What’s popular right now? What are people buzzing about? Take this recent example from Sesame Street, a brand that’s done a terrific job of social media engagement. Team Sesame took a highly popular song and produced a parody featuring one of their most beloved characters. Your brand may not have Cookie Monster at its disposal (big stars like him are too pricey anyway), but keep an eye on social media’s trending topics to get ideas for good parody or satire-worthy content.

Don’t Overdo it

Unless your brand’s name is The Daily Show or Jimmy Kimmel Live, there is no need to make every tweet, update or blog post a laugh riot. Unless humor is absolutely central to your brand’s identity, you don’t have to become the social arena’s class clown. If you received a good response to a recent humorous tweet or update, leave things on a high note. Don’t risk losing your audience with a steady stream of increasingly swing-and-miss gags. And when a crisis hits, put the rubber chicken away and slap on the serious face.

It Really Can Help the Bottom Line

An old, but oft-noted 1993 study in the Journal of Marketing found that:

“Humor is more likely to enhance recall, evaluation, and purchase intention when the humorous message coincides with ad objectives, is well-integrated with those objectives, and is viewed as appropriate for the product category. Under such circumstances, humorous advertising is more likely to secure audience attention, increase memorability, overcome sales resistance, and enhance message persuasiveness.”

They were referring to traditional marketing back in ’93, but I believe that line of thinking still stands with regards to social media marketing and engagement. Agree? Disagree?

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on September 6, 2012.)

Image via Sesame Street on YouTube

Have a Laugh! Incorporate Humor into Social Media

Ben-Huh-and-Social-Media-Humor-199x300Using humor in your social media activities is tricky business. Very few things are as subjective as what constitutes “funny.” At an SXSW session on March 11, “The Art of Making Fun of Yourself”, CEO of the Cheezburger Network, Ben Huh spoke about incorporating humor into your online personas and campaigns.

Brands looking to establish themselves on social media may be interested in a few takeaways from Mr. Huh’s informative, and humorous presentation.

Pay Up! Humor is Social Currency

Huh believes that the internet and social media largely run on humor. Across Twitter, Facebook, and other online forums, everyone is taking a stab at being a comedian. Why post or tweet anything unless, at least on some level, you’re looking for that “like” or retweet? It’s that social seal of approval that your update or content has indeed hit the mark with at least certain people. Brands looking to jump into social media for the purposes of engagement and spreading their message should understand that laughs are a valuable currency in the online space. You don’t need to be The Onion or Conan to add a touch of laughter to your social media activity.

We Are All Obsessed with Grumpy Cat!

Get your social media followers and fans involved in contributing humorous content, with memes as a classic example. Pay attention to which online humor sensations are catching fire and don’t be afraid to try to leverage them. Mashable took advantage of one of the moment’s biggest online sensations “Grumpy Cat” to attract huge lineups to their SXSW location this year. Indeed, the appearance of the feline phenom has been one of the biggest hits of this year’s interactive conference. That speaks volumes about how important humor is as part of a brand’s marketing campaigns. As well, keeping up regular engagement with your online audience will ensure that your awesome, knee-slapping content makes the rounds.

Viral, Schmiral

Only a tiny fraction of what we do will truly take off and “go viral.” When using comedy in your social efforts, don’t expect every humorous aside to garner heavy activity or be noticed by the entire world. The key is to develop your brand’s online persona first and become a consistent source of laughs. That’s far better strategy than constantly trying to catch lightning in a bottle and produce the next world wide viral sensation every time you drop new content.

First is the Worst, Second is the Best…

While the famous Oreo Super Bowl power outage response was terrific marketing, there’s no rush to be first to score humor points off current events. Rushing to make jokes around breaking news is where brands could find themselves in trouble. Those second or third to the ball can also take off. Consider Dos Equis (the Most Interesting Man in the World meme) and Old Spice (The Old Spice Guy) for example. Both characters share similarities with the Chuck Norris Facts meme, though the two branded examples came later and still managed to become well known humor hits. Real-time response is great but make sure your campaign is still in line with your brand’s established personality and history.

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on March 12, 2013.)

Cover image via Flickr

Social Media Campaign Tips from the Mars Rover

Social-Media-and-the-NASA-RoverAs part of 2013’s SXSW Interactive, the team behind the NASA Mars Rover’s social media activity was awarded that conference’s interactive award for “Best Social Media Campaign.”

With over 1.3 million Twitter followers, the Little Rover That Could has indeed become an online superstar thanks to the talented social media enthusiasts working behind the scenes.

Let’s look at a few quick takeaways from this winning campaign.

Humanize Your Brand with Social Media

The Rover’s Twitter account pushes out entertaining and informative tweets about its mission to Mars while staying completely “in character.” By keeping things humorous and mostly conversational, the NASA team has managed to successfully humanize a machine on a distant planet while collecting a huge online audience in the process. The non-stop nature of Twitter’s stream allows ample opportunity for your brand (or robot) to become humanized and relatable, tweet by tweet.

Keep Things a Little Goofy

During a session at SXSW, entrepreneur Eddie Huang spoke about the virtue of keeping things off-kilter, goofy, and unpredictable. “The Internet, social media sites; people flock to the goofy stuff, that’s the stuff that gets attention.” While not a planned part of the campaign, NASA learned this virtue with breakout star Bobak Ferdowsi, aka The Mohawk Guy. The engineer became an overnight online celebrity after social media users began mentioning his unique look and creating memes with his image. Huang also noted that a company may have an online superstar waiting in the wings, and that employees should be encouraged to use social media in the hopes of ferreting them out. Between Ferdowsi and the casual, humorous tweets from Curiosity, NASA embraces keeping it a little goofy and has benefited in the process.

Connect Your Online and Offline Activity

The NASA team knew the action couldn’t just take place on Twitter. Social media activities can gain more traction when tied to the offline world whenever possible. Social media platforms offer an easy gateway connecting both realms. From their website:

“NASA Tweetup and NASA Social events added a “you are there” element to the campaign. Social media followers were randomly selected to go behind the scenes for launch and landing. They met with scientists and engineers, took pictures, asked questions and shared the experience via their own social media accounts, making them citizen journalists and ambassadors for the mission.”

Encouraging fans and followers to share your brand’s activities via their social accounts is a great way to take advantage of user-generated content for your campaigns.

Quick Response in the Social Media Age

The NASA team realizes that social media is about conversations, not simply pushing out information.  The Mars Rover Twitter handle delivers frequent updates on the mission but also serves its followers by answering questions quickly.

It’s Always About the Story

The “7 Minutes of Terror” video, launched last summer as the Rover was about to land on the Red Planet, currently sits at over two million YouTube views. The NASA team, rather than produce a video detailing technical specifics likely to confuse most people (well, me anyway), used a menacing music score and eye catching graphics to produce an entertaining narrative tale of the landing. The video set up Mars as something of an antagonist to Curiosity’s plucky protagonist. Discussing how your brand’s product works behind the scenes may not always be all that entertaining. There’s an interesting narrative to be found, however, in just about any brand’s story. YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook; all of these platforms let you showcase that narrative in different ways. To once again quote Eddie Huang’s session: “always think in three acts.”

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on March 22, 2013.)

Super Bowl Blackout: How to Use Social Media During Prime Moments

The lights went out in New Orleans last night just after the halftime show of the Super Bowl, the outage caused a 35 minute delay in the biggest game of the year. While the 49ers and Ravens did their best to stay limber during the stoppage, social media users and several brands had some fun with the situation.

The Super Bowl blackout is a textbook example of a messaging opportunity for brands. With all eyes on New Orleans, savvy marketers jumped into the conversation, bringing their own brand’s perspective to the unexpected, buzz-worthy event.

Oreo Leaps into the Top 5 Brands with Buzz

We’ve twice looked at the most buzzed about Super Bowl advertising brands leading up to the Big Game, in this post and this post. Oreo Cookies was not near the top 10 leading up to Sunday.  Over the past 24 hours, however, we’ve seen the little sandwich cookie, who’s social prowess we’ve touched on in the past, leap firmly into the top five most mentioned Super Bowl brands. True, Oreo’s actual Super Bowl commercial finally aired during the game, but a huge part of Oreo’s conversation share today has been driven by their outstanding, ludicrously quick reaction to the lights going out in Louisiana.

The tweet has been retweeted over 14,800 times thus far (by running the exact language of the tweet through Salesforce Marketing Cloud), the grand total is closer to 26,000 retweets, which accounts for those that retweeted it with added commentary. Oreo saw a sharp rise in mentions just after the tweet went live.

Superbowl Blackout

Buzzfeed details how team Oreo managed to get the post up so quickly.

Takeaway: Be brave. Yes, the Oreo team was on hand with decision makers at the ready, but to push content that quickly without much time to think about the potential impact is a risk. A risk that delivered.

Audi Takes a Fun Jab at the Competition

Audi, also landing in the top 10 buzzed brands over the past 24 hours, had a slightly different approach to the blackout. The German automaker got in on the trending conversation by having some fun with the fact that competing Mercedes sponsors the SuperDome.

Takeaway: Just look at the string of reactions to the Audi Tweet. For the most part, users were impressed by the playful dig. Keep your tone positive so it’s not too hard on your competitors. Also, this showcases the importance of keeping tabs on your competition. If news is happening and your brand is involved, you never know when your competitors may attempt to have a bit of a laugh at your brand’s expense.

 Calvin Klein Takes Advantage of the Latest Platforms

Calvin Klein landed in the number three position when all was said and done. Their ad featuring model Matthew Terry was a huge hit across social media, with women in particular. CK didn’t hesitate to give the ladies of Twitter more eye candy to occupy their eyeballs while the crew in New Orleans worked to restore power and restart the action.

Using Twitter’s new Vine application, CK gave its followers six more seconds of fun with abdominals.

Takeaway: CK used the primest of prime times to start taking advantage of the newest enhancement to one of social media’s powerhouse platforms. Use your social media account to show off some “DVD extra” style content.  It was a nice narrative continuation between their mainstream ad and their social presence. It also likely gave some Twitter users a glimpse at a new Twitter feature they may not have known existed.

(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on February 4, 2013.)

Free Presentation: Social Media is Changing Everything

Social Media is Changing Everything(Note: This post originally appeared on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud blog on November 12, 2013. It was awarded the gold medal as “Best Individual Post – Social Media” by the Content Marketing Institute as part of the 2013 Content Marketing Awards.)

Are you a social business? The evolution towards becoming a business fully entrenched in social media is in full swing. The International Data Corporation expects an annual growth in spending to hit 42.4% for enterprise social collaboration and enterprise social networking platforms between 2011 and 2016 according to a 2012 report. The time is now to make the move towards the fully connected social business and we’ve got a few tips to help make that happen for your organization.

Here now, a quick look at the six principles of social media marketing based on a presentation by our own Content Marketing Manager, Jeff Cohen.

1. Social Listening

Social media listening is the process of rooting out those posts, tweets, and status updates that matter to your brand among the millions that are generated every single day. Listen for what social media users are saying about your company, your competitors, your products, even your executives.  Listen to find out why consumers love your products, or why they don’t.  Listen for trending topics within your industry to spot new markets and new product opportunities.  Listen for sales and lead generation opportunities. Everything begins with becoming a good listener.

2. Social Content

Quality content puts your brand’s knowledge, thought leadership, and services into formats that can be shared and bookmarked, and referred back to by both your clients and potential clients. As  Jeff notes, “Social content needs to provide value and encourage action.”  The best content is educational, actionable, relevant to business needs, and highly shareable. If you’re churning out top-notch, useful content, your online community will be that much more likely to become customers and, just as importantly, send more customers your way. For more on developing a content marketing strategy, check out this free ebook.

3. Engagement

Active listening creates engagement opportunities around your awesome content, as well as your brand name, and any customer issues or crises that may arise. The rise of social media allows brands to engage with consumers in ways not previously possible. You can solicit customer stories much easier, help customers in a flash, and of course, use a CRM system to fully track your engagement activities. A strong plan for engagement will help solidify relationships with your clients/audience leaving them feeling more connected to your brand. Need help getting started? We’ve got an ebook for that as well, 20 Ways to Succeed at Social Media Engagement.

4. Social Ads

Social ads allow for tracking and measurement and can be targeted much easier than more traditional ads. Social ads can be targeted based on age, gender, location, ever users’ interests. Social ads are those ads that are displayed to users who have friends that are fans of the advertised brand(s) in question. According to research from Nielsen, social ads generate a 55% increase in ad recall compared to NON-social ads. Social ads can be utilized to promote your top-performing content and help entice your followers to share your brand’s message. For more, check out Everything you Need to know about Social Ads.

5. Measurement

As Jeff Cohen notes, “Establish measurements of success for your activities before beginning.”  The notion that social marketing practices can’t be measured isn’t accurate. You can measure just about everything, and you should. Social shares, SEO, web analytics, total leads generated, page views, ad conversions; all of it is measurable.  This ebook, 5 Steps to Effective Social Media Measurement, will help get you started on tracking the effectiveness of your various social media endeavors.

6. Workflow & Automation

Take all the social data you’re collecting and keep it open and readily available to all of your departments. Workflow and automation bring the above five steps together. Grounding it all with a quality CRM platform, take the massive amounts of social data that’s available and combine it with real-time metrics and engagement measures to develop the type of relationship with your clients that will help make them customers for life.

Check out Jeff’s presentation in its entirety here.