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Social Media a Must for Outreach, Content Companies Stress

6 May, 2014 By: Chris Tribbey

MARINA DEL REY, Calif. — When Nash Grier and Cameron Dallas, the teenage personalities of social video site Vine (claiming nearly 12 million followers between them), appeared on ABC’s “Good Morning America” (GMA) April 30, T.J. Marchetti, chief marketing officer of AwesomenessTV, was shocked at the reaction.

A few thousand teenage girls showed up to the live broadcast, with many of them quickly relaying their experiences of the event to social media sites, mostly via Vine and Instagram.

“It was bigger than [Justin] Bieber. It was madness,” Marchetti said May 5, speaking at the Variety Entertainment & Technology Summit. “It was infinitely more impactful than what we were doing on GMA.”

AwesomenessTV, the teen-oriented YouTube network acquired by DreamWorks Animation last year for $33 million, had just signed Grier and Dallas to an exclusive contract, giving AwesomenessTV exclusive rights to their content across all social media networks. The deal also calls for a feature film with the two, produced by AwesomenessTV founder and CEO Brian Robbins.

The GMA broadcast itself was great marketing, Marchetti said, but the social media impact of fans of Grier and Cameron was infinitely more important.

“When you look at the type of content driving [social media], it’s the tweens both consuming and creating it,” he said. “It’s kids at home creating content, listening to their audience, and feeding them. I think a lot of brands can learn from that.”

Liz Jones, EVP of digital marketing for film studio Relativity Media, couldn’t agree more. Just last week Relativity posted a photo of the upcoming sci-fi feature film Earth to Echo (in theaters July 2), and “almost instantly” more than 100,000 people were discussing it.

“If you’re trying to reach the tweens, it’s through Vine and Instagram,” she said. “They don’t read newspapers.”

And instead of creating its own second screen experiences for the film, the studio decided in late April decided to challenge students across the country to use code to create a game inspired by the film, with the help of Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to making computer science more available in schools.

“We’ve had an amazing response, and they really get to interact with the movie,” Jones said. “Since Earth to Echo is a first person narrative about kids who actually inspire change, we thought it only fitting to give students across the country the opportunity to build their own game in a creative and fun way.”

Pernille Bruun-Jensen, chief marketing officer NetBase, which analyzes social media and other Web content for marketing and sales departments, said it’s no longer just about seeing how many clicks any piece of social media marketing receives. It’s about how you react to it.

“It used to be about counting,” she said. “With media and entertainment, there’s so much data out there, and what I see is the smart customers … use social to intercept issues and complaints, and that can be measured.”

Marchetti agreed. Just because a Facebook fan of your content clicks through doesn’t mean you’ll actually have that person buy a movie ticket or a DVD.

“Analytics are moving to purchase intent,” Jones added. “We listen to what people are saying, what is it about the movie that makes people want to go or not want to go. And if we listen correctly, we can correct.” Content creators are actually listening to social media responses, she said. TV spots and theatrical trailers have been changed because of fan feedback, she said.

Michael Son, director of strategic partnerships for Disqus, a blog comment hosting service used by more than 3 million Web sites and online communities, said content companies are wise to use social media as a barometer of how people feel about their projects.

“The first thing is to listen,” he said. “They’re very vocal across the Web, and they’ll tell you if you’re screwing up. Use that to mold your marketing.”

Marchetti, offering his disappointment with content marketing campaigns that don’t utilize social media, put it simply: “Your audience is on it. You better be using it.”

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