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The Academy Gets Social

Social media marketing history was made during the 85th presentation of the Academy Awards on March 2nd.  Ellen DeGeneres coaxed Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Meryl Streep, Kevin Spacey, Bradley Cooper and others to rise from their seats to snap a group selfie on a Samsung Galaxy Smartphone. It was retweeted 2.8 million times. The traffic disrupted Twitter service for 20 minutes.

OK, the snapshot was pre-planned but that so many of Hollywood’s royalty would enthusiastically huddle for the iconic shot was not.  In fact, social media was a driving force behind what turned out to be the most-watched Oscars with 43 million viewers, up 6% from the 2012 awards presentation.  Host Ellen DeGeneres was chosen in part because she came with her 25 million Twitter followers.  Samsung was sponsor of the event and amassed 40,000 brand mentions across Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.

As show co-producer Neil Meron told the Associated Press, “What it’s all about now is creating a conversation and social media allows for the conversation as it’s happening.” In another quote he quipped, “Fortunately for us, not only is Ellen a fantastic entertainer, she is extremely adept at using her social media platforms to expand and engage her fans … It seems our plan worked out very well indeed!”

In fact, I’ll bet that Ellen’s frequent departure from the stage to romp through the star-studded audience was reflective of a show strategy anchored in interaction and social media.  Viewers are armed with tablets and smartphones, sitting in front of their big-screen TVs, and ready to interact.  Ellen’s frequent antics in the audience broke down the barriers between Ellen, viewers and the theater audience, just like a successful social media marketing campaign dissolves the barrier between business and customer.

The personal and promotional are deftly intertwined.  Ellen ordered out for pizza from Big Mama’s and Papa’s in West Hollywood. Most viewers aren’t aware that many in the room at this point are hungry after a grueling day of Red Carpet P.R. The pizza slices were handed out to very appreciative guests, including Angelina Jolie.  Does this not humanize celebrities and make our connection to them just a little more real?

The 85th Academy Awards is a social media showcase.  So many corporations don’t get it. They are busy integrating social media into the traditional top-down marketing approach.

How to get social media right?

  • Listen to your customer
  • Give freely to your customer (pizza!)
  • Connect with your audience (mingle and schmooze)
  • Engage your customer (ask questions)

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