For SMCFW’s first speaker event of the year, a small crowd of people bundled up against the chill and descended upon Jake’s Hamburgers on Camp Bowie to hear what industry specialists had tapped to be the “next big thing” in their respective fields during 2013.
Our illustrious line-up of panelists featured individuals with a variety of backgrounds: Ricky Cadden, the Social Media Manager at RadioShack; Phil Easter, the Director of Mobile Apps for American Airlines; Ken Schaefer, the President of Schaefer Advertising, and Red Sanders of Red Productions.
As with other panel events, what follows is a relatively complete transcript of the proceedings:
Moderator: How did you get started in your particular industry?
Ricky: I’m an ACU grad with a Marketing Management degree. I did ad sales for two years and was terrible at it, so I moved on to RadioShack, where I’ve been doing their social media for two years.
Phil: I have four daughters and one wife, and we all initially lived in Colorado where I failed at creating start-ups. American threw me a line, and I’ve been doing this for two years now.
Ken: I’ve become one of the “old advertisers” in Fort Worth. Our agency’s been around for sixteen years, and we provide companies with clarity and ability to grow. I’m also the father of two fifteen-year old twin boys.
Red: We’re a small team of seven, and our mission is to tell stories through film and video, which we do through ads or even feature films, like Searching for Sonny.
Moderator: How will social media impact your particular industry in 2013?
Ricky: Well, I’m in social media, so it will be impacted a lot. Now social media is going to have to start showing revenue, particularly through its ads. From a brand perspective, we’ll have to figure out how to create content that doesn’t look like an ad, and how to create it in a way that doesn’t piss off our fans.
Phil: Airlines are some of the most hated companies in existence, but with social media, people have really embraced us. We’ve gotten awards in the industry for responding to people in real-time, and American Airlines is totally transparent with our social media policy. If you feel like you’re connected to the airline, and you need immediate response for something, that’s huge…and that’s something that I think we’ll continue to grow in 2013.
Ken: We’ve gotta know what an individual is thinking, when they’re going to think it, make the information available to them in the format that they want, right when they want it. The complexity of that has affected how an ad agency approaches the [social media] industry. We’re now seeing much more of a seamless integration between agency and clients, because you’re both deeply embedded in the brand. In the end, as an agency, we have to be in the right place (whether it’s paid, earned, or just in the social space), and respond in the right way. The immediacy component really changes that model of paid media, and we’re trying to reinvent that, because that model is broken.
Red: We’re actually really excited about the new Vine app on Twitter. My main social app now is Instagram, but it’s not motion. So since we do motion, we think you’d rather watch a 6-second GIF than stare at a static ad before a YouTube video, and that’s something we plan to explore very soon.
Moderator: What resource do you use to find out the maximum amount of information on the web, first thing in the morning?
Ricky: Twitter, of course, but my favorite is Google Reader. I can file through it pretty quickly based on what I consider to be valuable information. I also check out blogs for respective services, like the blog for Twitter or the Facebook blog, and I look at AdWeek and see the people they’re sourcing.
Phil: I use Flip, an app for iOS that aggregates all of your news sources. Most of my information comes from TechCrunch, Gizmodo, and a few others.
Ken: All news sources, with the exception of Twitter, are curated. So your experience is controlled. I usually check CNN and Grudge first thing in the morning, for two different perspectives. Then I check Mashable and TechCrunch. But mostly I trust my network to help be eyes and ears for me on the web, and hopefully I contribute back to them the same way. I think we often overlook our own network as a source of curated information, because my friends’ opinions matter to me.
Red: Most of the daily feeds that I’m on deal with the film industry, Indiewire, and other places to see new and innovative ways that people are marketing films. Sometimes I see new age ideas where people are willing to take a big risk, and I think it’s really cool.
Moderator: What’s the upcoming thing that you and your industry are tracking during 2013?
Phil: I think American is trying to create the loyalty experience…we’re a trusted source to get you from Point A to Point B, so we want to build that trust and start extending that network out.
Ken: It’s exhaustion and confusion in the marketplace right now. Go type “social media fatigue” into Google and look at how many articles come up; think about how your habits have changed within the past year in terms of social media. There’s this element of “Oh my God, I can get so much information so quickly that my brain can’t keep up.” What we have to do as marketers is try harder to become more simple. I’m a firm believer in picking three things to do well, and then maybe add a fourth, or then a fifth, if it’s absolutely necessary. If Pinterest isn’t a great fit for your brand, don’t mess with it and focus on the things that you can do well. Simplify, simplify, simplify. Take the Oreo tweet during the Super Bowl: it was simple, it was timely. I want to focus on simplicity for our clients so they don’t exhaust their customers.
Red: Just to piggyback on that idea: we don’t want to make videos for people who are only interested in them because it’s their company, when the rest of the internet won’t really care about it. Look at the “God Made a Farmer” commercial from the Super Bowl: I can’t remember seeing a commercial of only still images in a very long time. It was really interesting to see how slowing it down made it stick out and focus on the emotion, and I think that’s important to our mission of creating better stories. We don’t want to necessarily add to the noise as attention spans decrease.
Ken: Another big trend is the mobile sites. Stripping away all the excess, figuring out how people are using them, and that’s it. According to Forbes, only 20% of mobile marketers have a mobile plan as part of their strategy, but we need to get it right here, on our cell phones.
Ricky: That’s another one of the things I was going to bring up. 60% of our users access our site through mobile, and since we’re selling phones to them, it makes sense that that’s the platform we need to be talking to them on efficiently. Consumers expect to have a full-media experience on their phones now, a mobile experience. We’re going to have to think mobile first in everything we do. The other thing that’s a big focus is to find the incredible amount of knowledge that we have in the field and utilize it. We have 30,000 some-odd people in the field, in our stores, who talk to customers every day and we need to figure out how to tap into that. We have people in our stores that know how to do all sorts of things, fix all sorts of things, create all sorts of things, and retailers need to embrace that.
Moderator: I feel like we’re all on the same page about mobile, but how do we feel about apps specifically? Pointless? Or best thing ever?
Ricky: As a user, I just like web apps. Native apps give you so much more capability, versus a mobile app that just sits there.
Phil: We’re all about the apps at American. People only use about 10 of their favorite apps on a regular basis, so the challenge is to connect with customers with the right app at the right time. We’re focusing on internet-based apps, which will focus on your profile, who you are and what you need, at the right time, based on location and profile history.
Red: I just realized that I have 42 app updates to download. And it seems like every time I update, they’re like “You need the new OS to update your app!” and I don’t necessarily want the new OS. I don’t get that.
Ken: I think people all want information, but they want it in different ways. Social media has this label as a crazy holy grail, but I don’t think it is. I think it’s a vital, critical, collectible selection of media. If we think of social media as a variety of channels, like network versus cable TV, our job as marketers is to stay relevant and connect with our clients in the media of their choice. It all begins at knowing your target audience, and if your target audience isn’t traditional and doesn’t social media, then don’t mess with it.
Moderator: What’s the best social media story that you have?
Phil: We’ve all heard about Jack the Cat, right? Had we not had the most awesome social team on the planet, that would have been bad. We hired expert cat-finders to find him in a terminal at JFK airport in New York, and we were able to acknowledge the problem, embrace it, get emotional about it, and in the end we won out.
Red: On Christmas Day, I got an urgent group of texts. TCU was playing a bowl game against Michigan State in a few days, and a TCU fan forwarded us a Michigan State version of a video that we had made for TCU. It had our images, our dialogue, our voiceover, but it was all themed around Michigan State. Turns out that somebody had ripped our video off, and a Michigan State student had ripped off the rip, without knowing that it was originally made for TCU. The point was that our dialogue wasn’t TCU branded, it appealed to multiple schools and to multiple sports. We made something that we put out in the social sphere, and it was a story about the psychological makeup of a team, and people liked it enough that they used it.
Ricky: My favorite story was actually an awful experience, but it worked out in the end. On a Friday afternoon at about 4:45pm, we got a call about a hostage situation. Apparently two guys were robbing a store next to a RadioShack, and when the cops got there, they panicked and ran into the RadioShack to take hostages. The news stations started tagging “RadioShack Hostage” as a headline. The robbers had the managers in a back room, and it turns out that the assailant was posting to his Facebook page from the back room. Finally, in the end, he just came out and the SWAT team took him away. It was the most stressful social media event that I’ve been through, but it turned out okay.
That’s a wrap, folks! We look forward to seeing you at our St. Patty’s Day TweetUp at Poag Mahone’s on March 14! By the way, if you’re not following “Social Media Club FW” on Vine yet…why not? We post clips from our events and everything!