A Student’s Perspective: Why Engagement Should Be Spelled A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N

Trinna Leong is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Why Engagement Should Be Spelled A-T-T-E-N-T-I-O-N, hosted by SocialVibe.

“If you are asking for someone to pay attention, you are probably doing the wrong thing.”

Engaging consumers has been a difficult task for all advertisers in today’s fast paced age. The day’s panel of five industry experts in the field of advertising and marketing came together to discuss what works and what doesn’t in capturing audience’s attention.

“People are more interested in being the curator, purveyor,” said Vanessa Montes, Vice President of Integrated Marketing at Fuse. All panelists agreed that consumers usually pay attention through “word of mouth” when friends introduce an item or brand.

That said, brands would want to generate positive talk-ability amongst its audience. Examples given by the panel included the Chipotle ad that aired at the Grammys; an ad that Adrian Barrow, Head of Planning at JWT’s New York office, thought was “artful” (while stating that overall “brands have developed the touch on how to behave on entertainment channels”); and the PETA ad that Michael Learmonth, Digital Editor at Advertising Age, felt strongly against. With the PETA ad, Leamonth felt that the message was that being vegan increases sex drive, but by painting a woman who looks sexually abused, PETA was not sending out a positive message.

Another key point brought up by the panelists is that in social media networks, brands have ended up looking at numbers instead of content. Quantity has been ranked higher than quality, causing brands to lose sight of engagement with their audience.

“Social media is a media that exists between people. For it to pay off, it has to be nurtured,” added Ian Schafer, CEO and founder of Deep Focus.

“Instead of focusing on number of likes and posts, advertisers should focus on what people are talking about on the page,” said Schafer.

The general consensus from the panelists was that advertisers in the midst of trying to pull in more fans end up failing to determine what to do with the fans they have on social media. The worst metric to measure is one that measures how long users spend on a page.

Barrow also argued that consumers now want “something that can help them make the best use of their time” because then “they’ll award brands with some attention.” This defines a new role for agencies to produce new ideas that is useful for consumers.

Panelists also commented on the importance of brands making sure that their brand stays relevant by encouraging audiences to talk about the brand instead of the celebrity that endorses it. Ultimately, the main takeaway for brands is to have engagement fueled by consumers not by brands.

Trinna Leong is from Malaysia and had two years of work experience in the online advertising industry before deciding to trade the sweltering tropical heat for a chance to pursue journalism at Columbia University. Prior to switching fields, she has worked on projects for Nike, IKEA and Citibank. You can follow her on Twitter at @trinnaleong.

A Student’s Perspective: The Agency of the Future

Janet Upadhye is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from The Agency of the Future.

“YouTube will not kill TV,” said Robert Davis, Director of Ogilvy’s Advanced Video Practice. “And actually, video never really killed the radio star.” What Davis meant by his colorful introduction is that agencies of the future need to stop thinking in absolutes. And instead focus on common threads.

Davis highlighted content as the most obvious common thread. The content remains the same in any medium, but how companies think about content needs to change. Davis, accompanied by Mitch Bernstein, Client Strategy Director and Martin Lange, executive Marketing Director of Digital Strategy, laid out ten strategies to create, what they called, a “Content Revolution.”

Briefly, those points included speaking in languages that audiences understand, making content more interactive, creating good distribution methods, measuring success rates by more than just views, creating content that is liberated from the interface, focusing on hand held devices to deliver content, and identifying who the target audience is and when and how they best receive content.

Social TV is one of the most important emerging strategies. A panel comprised of Peter Naylor of NBC Universal, Kimberly Meyers of GetGlue, Matt Crenshaw of Discovery Cannel, and Mark Ghuneim of Trendrr talked about how to socially activate TV audiences.

Ghuneim identified “calls to action” as great ways to get viewers involved. For example, American Idol asks viewers to discuss and vote for their favorite competitors. According to Trendrr, 420,000 people mentioned American Idol on social media sites during its premier on January 18 of this year. This shows increased involvement and a new way to measure a show’s success.

Meyers talked about one of her clients, Pepsi, and one of their new social media campaigns. Viewers that checked into watching the Super Bowl on Foursquare and Facebook received a sticker in the mail worth a free Pepsi. Without mentioning numbers, Meyers said that they strategy was very successful.

Social TV can actually change the artistic direction of a show. The USA Network allowed viewers to tweet about the new opening credits of the television drama White Collar. After an outpouring of negative comments, the network decided to change back to the old opening. “USA took the opinions of its viewers to heart,” said Naylor. “That is what social TV is all about.”

The way that people are watching TV has changed and Social TV is the networks’ response to that change. “People want to be able to discuss the shows that they love with other fans,” said Ghuneim. “Social TV allows viewers to do just that.”

Janet Upadhye is a multimedia journalist covering Hunts Point in the Bronx. In a past life, she was the Development Director at San Francisco Women Against Rape. During her decade in the Bay Area, she also organized within queer and trans communities for safety and justice. You can follow her on Twitter at jupadhye.

A Student’s Perspective: Reflecting on the 54th GRAMMY Awards

Nikhita Venugopa is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Reflecting on the 54th GRAMMY Awards.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards, held on Feb. 12, 2012, was massively successful on a broadcast platform and in social media, drawing over 3.9 million mentions of their twitter handles. On Wednesday, Day 3 of Social Media Week in New York, Beverly Jackson, a member of the Grammy team talked about the Social, Digital and Mobile initiatives that went into the award show, a record-breaking feat that overtook this year’s Super Bowl numbers.

“We wanted people to be engaged and connected,” said Jackson, speaking at the Hearst Magazine Arts and Culture Hub.

This year’s Grammy Awards didn’t just have a strong presence on Twitter and Facebook, but they were also on Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube and Spotify to name a few. In some songs of the show, you could even use “Shazam,” an app that can listen to a song that’s playing and find it for you, said Jackson. “We wanted to be on every platform that was talking about music,” she said.

Jackson reflected on the previous year’s socialization of the Grammys and their change in strategy since 2009. For the 51st Annual Grammy Awards, the team just “pushed out tweets” without responding to social media comments, said Jackson. This year, they adopted an “interactive and organic” plan, replying to users and encouraging people to use the Grammy hash-tag.

As a result, the Grammy Awards are the number one social TV event, as reported by Mashable, with 13 million social media comments. The buzz peaked at over 65,000 tweets per second during the airing of the live broadcast.

In her presentation, Jackson maintained that they wanted to recognize importance of social media to the music industry. She talked about a new program for bloggers who were experts in a particular genre of music and would respond to tweets and social media comments. So an expert on Americana music could respond to a tweet about the importance of Glenn Campbell’s performance at the Grammys, she explained. Another event organized by Jackson and her team for the Grammy Awards was the 3rd annual Social Media Rock Star Summit that celebrates the influence of social media on the music world and vice-versa. This year’s summit featured the CEOs of Topspin Media, GetGlue, Shazam, and Turntable.fm.

The death of six-time Grammy award winner Whitney Houston was a widely discussed subject on several social media platforms. Jackson said during Jennifer Hudson’s tribute to the singer at the Grammy Awards, the Twitter traffic almost stopped.

“People were putting their keyboards down and sitting back instead of sitting forward,” said Jackson. She believes it was social media’s way of paying respect to Houston.

Jackson ended her talk by commenting on how viewers were not only tuned into the show, but they were also interacting. “It was important to us that people were engaged,” she said.


Nikhita Venugopal grew up in Bangalore, India. She moved to New York in July 2011 to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree. Nikhita studied Media and Communications, Psychology and Literature in India and has interned at Ogilvy as a copywriter and Macmillan Publishers as an editor. You can follow her on Twitter at @niks_90.

A Student’s Perspective: Chris Kaskie Keynote with SoundCtrl’s Creating Music for the Social Web

Nikhita Venugopa is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from Keynote: Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork Media followed by SoundCtrl’s Creating Music for the Social Web.

Day Three of Social Media Weekend began at the Hearst Arts and Culture Hub with the keynote speech by Chris Kaskie, President of Pitchfork Media, a Chicago-based webzine and guide devoted to music criticism and news. Kaskie commented on social media’s role in music today and what Pitchfork hopes to achieve through Twitter and Tumblr.

“When it comes to social media, I find myself spending more time trying to figure out how to use it than actually using it,” he said. Kaskie also highlighted the importance of maintaining Pitchfork’s role as a trusted source for music journalism, regardless of their platform of communication.

“The biggest challenge that Pitchfork faces today is the expanding world of music online,” said Kaskie. It’s increasingly common to see people discover music through peer-to-peer interaction and recommendation. “I’m really bummed that when I die, I have to leave my kids logins to my Cloud account and not record collections,” said Kaskie.

The Internet is filled with opinions and comments on music but Kaskie said he hopes that Pitchfork can provide context to “all the noise,” whether it’s on Spotify or Twitter or Facebook. “To me, it’s very social that we’re interacting with people’s social music experience,” said Kaskie.

After Kaskie’s talk, a panel discussion commenced on social media’s effect on the creative process of the music industry. The panel included Kaskie; Maura Johnston, music editor of the Village Voice; Josh Deutsch, co-founder of Downtown Records; rap-artist Asher Roth and moderated by Jesse Kirshbaum, co-founder of Sound Control. In speaking on the role of social media, Deutsch emphasized maintaining the image of a trusted brand, echoing Kaskie’s keynote speech. The panel discussed the differences between creating an album for a major label and a mixed tape for the web. Asher Roth said social media had rewarded music artists by letting them be free. “It’s a more enjoyable experience to create music for just your fan-base,” he said.

From a journalistic perspective, both Johnston and Kaskie agreed that the music’s format does not affect their critique and commentary. “People can make some of the best music in world in their bedroom. It’s a level playing field,” said Kaskie.

Johnston believed that music is visceral and it’s that feeling determines the strength, regardless of whether it’s online or on an album. “It’s the way it hits you,” she added.

However, in response to what they felt was missing from social media, Kaskie said it lacked an editorial, personalized voice. Johnston also commented on the myopic view that can come from the digital world, referring to Spotify, an online music streaming service. She said social media users often forget that there’s more to music than what you can find online.

All four panelists agreed that while social media was a valuable platform for communication, people should step away from it once in a while and explore a world outside Facebook and Twitter. “Go for a walk. Ride a bike,” said Roth. “It’s going to make you a more interesting person. A better tweeter.”

Nikhita Venugopal grew up in Bangalore, India. She moved to New York in July 2011 to attend Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree. Nikhita studied Media and Communications, Psychology and Literature in India and has interned at Ogilvy as a copywriter and Macmillan Publishers as an editor. She is interested in writing on subjects like education, science, music, arts, social issues and the general eccentricities of the city. You can can follow her on Twitter at @niks_90.

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A Student’s Perspective: State Your Case: Research vs. Social Analytics

Ashley Mayo is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. Ashley is providing coverage of State Your Case: Research vs. Social Analytics, sponsored by ORC International.

“You shouldn’t still be having conversations about social ROI,” said Craig Hepburn, Global Director of Social Media for Nokia. “Since having conversations with people is such an important part of your business, how could you not be doing it?”

If 2011 was about convincing companies that social media is an essential tool, 2012 is about discovering ways to track it success. Are raw analytics more valuable than sentiment? Or is sentiment the most important metric? In an intriguing debate on Monday, four executives who manage the social growth of their companies addressed these very questions.

“Our approach is among the most pragmatic,” said Jeffrey Bodzewski, Director of Social Marketing at Aspen Marketing Services. “Our clients are on the direct marketing side and they value data. We’ve been pushing to truly monetize the social experience.”

Other kinds of projects, however, need to rely more heavily on the measurement of sentiment to accurately gauge success. Taulbee Jackson, President and CEO of Raidious, a digital communications company that helps build audiences for brands, oversaw the social media channels around Super Bowl XLVI. In addition to tracking reach, amplification, influence and activity, Jackson kept a close eye on sentiment. He seemed especially proud that sentiment metrics suggested that for every two members of the Super Bowl audience who had a negative experience, three had a positive experience. Since this ratio rarely reaches two-to-one, an overwhelmingly positive sentiment suggests that Jackson’s social media efforts were a resounding success.

Ultimately, a combination of tangible metrics and sentiment provides the richest depiction of a social media campaign. And an emerging trend is getting to know exactly who an organization’s fans are.

“We’ll see an increase in the understanding of the customer,” said Bodzewski, who cited Facebook Connect as allowing companies to know not only more about their fans, but also about the social graph of those fans. “More companies will prompt for this information.”

While the panel referred to a few specific tools they use to track such social metrics—Hootsuite plugins, Radian 6, Bit.ly, Viral Heat, Social Motion and Socialbakers—they were quick to point out that there is no magic tool that will help a company measure social media.

“It’s so frustrating when you hear people say that social media is free,” said Hepburn. “It requires a lot of resources and a lot of effort to pull it off. You have to put a lot in to get a lot out, and that’s something a lot of social media evangelists never say.”

Devotion to such resources, however, is no longer a bonus. It’s a necessity.

“At Nokia we now pit social media at the center,” said Hepburn. “The world today is connected. Instead of starting from a traditional perspective, we’re putting social at the center and building things around it. We’re socializing everything and putting people at the center of our decisions.”


Ashley Mayo joined Golf Digest Publications in 2007. As the associate editor, her responsibilities include writing monthly equipment articles, overseeing various aspects of golfdigest.com, and initiating social media campaigns. Mayo graduated from the University of Virginia in 2007, and she’s currently a part-time student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she’s studying to get her Master of Science degree in Digital Journalism. She currently lives in NYC, where she has miraculously managed to maintain a 4 handicap.

A Student’s Perspective: 10 x10: Educate Girls, Change the World

Fatima Muneer is a student at Columbia’s School of Journalism. She is one of ten students providing on the ground coverage of SMWNYC- all from the student’s perspective. She is providing her report from 10×10: Educate Girls, Change the World held Monday evening at Big Fuel.

In a Northern Ethiopian village, 14-year old Melka arrived home from school one day to hear her mother say, “You’re getting married.” Before she knew it, she was standing next to an old man in her bridal dress, and was coerced into his bedroom after the wedding by his friends.

When she awoke in pain, she found herself in a hospital. The nurses found out what had happened to her and informed the police. Right after, her husband, stepfather, and mother, were jailed but released sometime after. She could not afford to go back to school so she stayed at home.

Today, she is twenty years old, and with help from World Vision, she has started her own school in Ethiopia where she educates girls about their rights. “No one asked me to do this. I’m doing this because I can’t let what happened to me, happen to anyone else,” says Melka. Since then, she has been involved in numerous forced child marriage cases. Her story has been shared to many organizations through this video and continues to inspire many till today.

The short movie finishes and the crowd at the Big Fuel headquarters who have gathered to attend the Social Media Weekend, applaud. Justin Reeves, manager of NGO partnerships at 10×10, is dressed sharply in a black suit and a grey shirt. Two giant Mac screens on his left and right play videos from 10×10 every now and then, during his speech. 10×10 is a campaign to reach support from a global audience and to help underprivileged girls all around the world. “10×10” refers to the upcoming motion film that will combine 10 different stories about 10 girls, coming from 10 developing countries, and written by ten globally acclaimed female writers from those 10 country, to create a powerful story of hope and change.

“How sustainable is this work because you are working from here to Ethiopia and how do you change deep-rooted traditions that have existed for generations?” asked Mohammed Ademo, who is from Ethiopia, who now lives in the U.S. and is pursuing a Masters degree in digital media journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

“It is indeed a very long process,” Reeves replied. The plan is to acquire grassroots help for the field like in China where the practice of binding feet of girls was eliminated in one generation by getting the support of religious leaders, who educated men about it.

What happens in this campaign, which has support from diverse NGOs, is that it gets to approach these girls from a holistic perspective as the girls get different kinds of help from all these organizations. Some get formal education while others get awareness lessons etc. The idea is to make that story into a video, and then share it. Every video needs to be edited by locals of that country so that the message is understood on all sides. The organization aims to convert “Challenges to opportunities” by offering hope to these girls.


Manhattan has now become home for Fatima Muneer, who is an international student from Oman at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and is focusing on digital media. While at Columbia, her articles for class have been picked by numerous online publications and include news wires from Forbes magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, and USA Today. She is a 2011 graduate of Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and holds a BSFS in International Affairs. In her free time, she loves weaving the streets of New York to find new subjects for photography, watch documentaries, and google places around the world to figure out where she wants to travel next.