THE CUT

JUNE 2015
ORGANIC SOCIAL MEDIA LIVES

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Given all of the pronouncements regarding the failing health of organic social media, we're reminded of the peasant in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" who cries, "I'm not dead yet!" only to be clubbed on the head shortly thereafter. Though the reach of organic social media has continued its downward spiral, there are glimmers of hope among best-in-class practitioners who are cleverly avoiding the death knell.
Celebrity Engagement

At the recent Social Media Shake-up, John Yembrick of NASA dazzled the crowd with a myriad of examples of opportunistic engagement. One involved Justin Bieber, who happened to mention on Twitter that he was interested in doing a concert in space. NASA not only responded, "Maybe we can help you with that," but also added a clever wink to Bieber's song "All Around the World." Needless to say, the "Beliebers" went crazy over this reply, which ended up generating millions of impressions among a young audience that NASA very much wants to inspire.

Real-time Hijacking

Yembrick also talked about how social media has helped generate broad-based interest in NASA activities by inserting NASA into other topical conversations. For example, NASA turned the biggest shopping day of the year into Black (Hole) Friday and the biggest football game into Super (Nova) Sunday. In both cases, NASA "hijacked" popular conversations in a fun and relevant way and delivered amazing photos from various spacecraft, thus encouraging further content exploration.

Extending Content

Former The Weather Channel CMO Scot Safon offered numerous examples of how organic social still works for TWC during a Shake-up panel discussion led by Drew Neisser. "People love to share videos and pictures of weather," explained Safon, and social was particular effective at driving "people to severe storm coverage." Media companies like The Weather Channel, however, have a clear advantage when it comes to getting value out of organic social, Safon conceded given the fact that consumers seek out their content.

Boosting Goodness

Even brands with a large content creation staff like The Weather Channel still rely on paid "boosts" to get the conversation started. Prior to making these investments, however, Safon and his team often conducted A/B tests to see which content encouraged the most sharing and drove the most traffic back to TWC site. Creating lots of content for testing was "not daunting," given their sizeable in-house production team, Safon reported. These paid boosts, with the right content, fueled significant increases in organic reach.

Embed Social into the Product

Among the holy grails for organic social media is getting users to create content that references the brand. For Katharine Mobley, CMO at WeCareCard (also on Drew's panel with Safon) this started by embedding social activity into the product itself. Describing it as "cause funding meets prepaid MasterCard," WeCardCard encourages customers to develop their own fundraising campaigns via good storytelling and extensive use of their personal social networks. Concludes Mobley, "Social plays an enormous role in our company; it is the very being of web-based cause funding."

Event Amplification

At the recent Cvent Connect conference in Las Vegas, a confab that brought together thousands of event marketers from around the globe, Drew joined a panel on getting the most out of social media at events. Fellow panelist Joe Meehan of the Milken Institute shared how the strategic use of hashtags for each of their conferences dramatically increased awareness of these programs. Meehan encouraged fellow event marketers to seek hashtags that were as short as possible, relevant to the event and vetted in advance to make sure they weren't in use or had alternative meanings.

For Drew's interviews with Scot Safon and Katharine Mobley among others, be sure to visit TheDrewBlog.

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