Tuesday, February 8

Social Media Week 2011 - #SMWSanity Live Blog

Trying to follow here on the #SMWSanity panel:
  • Moderator: Craig Minassian, Rally Producer and President Minassin Media
  • Steve Grimes, SVP COMEDY CENTRAL Digital
  • Don Steele, VP Digital Marketing, MTVN Entertainment
Opens with a recap video of the sequence of the Rally to Restore Sanity.

Steve tells us that Comedy Central had no idea for doing the effort - and they had no concept/warning outside of the day of the announcement. Trying to plan the event was somewhat difficult since it was all amorphous. But Steven wanted to get an iPhone App from the beginning - and was told it takes 6 months to get the app approved. Whoops!

Realized they had to work with the various social media/app players. Connected and worked with foursquare, Facebook, etc.

Don: question - how to inform people? Instead of selling - address their needs (where to park, where the traffic was, etc) and knew they needed to have an email list AND an SMS list. Had 125K people join a new email list; 300K join the Facebook group.

Everything they had to do had to inform - not to sell.

Steve: since there was two “events”, everything had to be doubled. RTRFear was to be a Bizarro Glen Beck event; RTRSanity was to be a more serious affair.

Craig discusses the normal modes for rallying could not happen.

Don: when they cal from Comedy Central, people usually get back to us. We simply wanted to execute perfectly. We did not know who was going to be there, which guests, how to share pictures, etc. Best practices were learned from connecting to people at the major companies (e.g., Foursquare, Facebook) to learn how to do it better. Our fans were telling us what to do - and we needed to ride the wave.

Steve: the Facebook numbers were actually true to the numbers - kept trying to figure out the discount metric. They guess that 150K at the Mall and another 150K trying to get there was demonstrating the numbers/RSVPs were quite good.

Craig: content come from?

Steve: have great people at CC, but looked to the community and to the Glen Beck event to riff off that.

Craig: did you have enough time to be able to modify your strategy?

Steve: you are thinking we had a strategy…

Craig: marketing effort - but the teams were working on the shows as well. How did you market something that did not know the “damn product”?

Don: we marketed to what the audience wanted. We were watching trends on twitter, people were searching for stuff. We had to supply that demand. Even when we sold merchandise, we had links on the stuff to lead to the social media efforts.

Lets look at concerts, SxSW, Bono - and contacted people who had done this before. Needed an app that could engage a “checkin”. Don did not know the API calls, but these people could.

Craig: on the ground, had lots of volunteers - through the social media effort. Question: did the audience stay?

Steve: the audience is still there. Since the rally the ratings (TV and digital) have gone up. Other things have continued to increase the growth, but the rally helped grow this out. Colbert saw this was a way to get more people engaged. Now, the writers of the Daily Show have to make a single funny “tweet” every day - something they would not have asked six months earlier.

Don: Lessons learned - the audience feels engaged (e.g, badges). People are going to be there if they are there in Social Media. Now, people in house are now seeing the conversation on Facebook and twitter as a stream to pay attention to.

Steve: tone has changed, social media has become the #1 bullet point. How is social media going to be part of the show? tosh 2.0 has seen most of its audience on Facebook.


Don: Meetup came up and tried to get us to get more engaged, and when we saw people beginning to create their own, we began to figure out how to use the Meetup efforts effectively.

Steve: we were not sure if the event was even worthy of being on TV - but as we saw the rise of the meme validated the need for the show. We were worried that there was not going to be enough people - two weeks before, we got it done rapidly and told people on the Monday before the event.

Craig: we were having trouble getting the space, Colbert was working the field insanely (too a hiatus to work on it). Everyone thought CC was being cagey about details - when they really did not know the details.

Q: how was the event growing internally? How was the DC Parks - were they causing roadblocks? A: essentially the CC Digital effort. The conservative blogs attacked, but the DC people were somewhat confused how to handle the event was difficult because it was so amorphous.

Q: what if it was not so enthusiastic? A: we knew by Sept 17 - and we were already on the path for other efforts (Night of Too Many Stars). When Meetup was calling about the response, we knew it was insane. Not a single network spot, not a single ad for this event - all was handled by the shows themselves. We were amazed as everyone else. We thought it would be 50K people - never expected 250K.

Q: beyond just a FB account - is CC getting ready to make business decision to get a community manager position? Is that just an intern thing or??? A: there is no one answer - we operate less like a network, more like an aggregator. What is the right answer for tosh may not be for Daily Show. Less to do about FB, 4sq, etc - more about the writers and developers and thinking about how to bring the elements within the shows. Not looking at any one platform - trying to look across the space and look to see what is possible before every show - and having a sense of what is possible and how the development does it. Now - the social media efforts are not an intern, we are now more responsible for questions. Short answer on hiring: no. We have 40-50 people already - too important for an intern - now everyone on the team has to be thinking of the social implications on what they do.

Q: what would you not do? A: it all just came together - everything just came together and worked. Tried hard to get the cell phone repeaters was out of our hands. The rapid response and building was what happened internally so well.

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