Social Media Week Los Angeles partnered with Viacom this week to answer the question, how can we change the world by going beyond the “Like” on social media? Using examples of how they leveraged SpongeBob and Anchorman 2 for good, Viacom executives from Viacommunity, MTV, CMT, Paramount Pictures and Get Schooled spoke at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica, California, on this hot topic.
Drew P Baldwin, Social Media Week LA Chairman, introduced the panel by raising the question, “This is really about the term Slacktivism, and understanding this term, and is it a misnomer or is it really an issue?”
The question raised to these social media leaders was, Is a Like, Favorite, or Retweet enough, or do we need people to take more action to add value to a social responsibility campaign? Check out all the tweets for this panel using #smwbeyondthelike.
SMWLA Slacktivism Panel
Lenore Feder (Moderator), Director, Public Affairs and Communications, Viacom
Liza Vadnai – Senior Director, Public Affairs, MTV
Lucia Folk – VP, Public Affairs, CMT
Jennifer Lynch – Director, Corporate Responsibility, Paramount Pictures
Latham Arneson – VP Interactive Marketing, Paramount Pictures
David Nguyen – Digital Media and Relationship Manager, Get Schooled Foundation
When we interviewed the Moderator Lenore Feder, she explained the big picture, “At Viacommunity, we’re working to try to amplify everything that they’re doing and connect that to the bigger picture.” For example, when Viacom partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Get Schooled, Viacommunity went to each Viacom property to discuss how they could promote education to their specific audience.
For this campaign, MTV created an app contest to encourage teens to go to college. In comparison, CMT focused their social media marketing on reaching an older demographic who might go back to school to fill skills gaps.
When asked about their biggest challenges, Liza Vadnai (MTV) raised an interesting point about fundraising. Liza expanded, “A challenge is that when we work with our partner organizations, they often want us to help by raising money, which for our audience is really not the way that they’re going to have the most impact, or it’s not the most relevant action, so we try to find ways we can provide a range of actions that don’t involve fundraising.”
For example, for the VMAs (Video Music Awards), MTV did a Look Different campaign that allowed the audience to talk about things that are very difficult to share using the hashtag #LookDifferent. The result has been over 250,000 notes were added to MTV’s Tumblr post since the VMAs. Bottom line, the #LookDifferent hashtag had a huge impact without raising money.
Another way these entertainment teams are changing the world is through storytelling. Lucia Folk (CMT) emphasized, “All of our work is in storytelling. It pays the bills for Viacom and for us, and that’s why you relate to someone else, it’s seeing something in their story that you relate too. So whether you’re talking to a teen about sexual health or on CMT, I’m talking to people who may need to go back to school,…you’re still using examples of someone who looks like me or is experiencing the same thing as I am and making that connection, so I think it’s the power of storytelling and using that well.”
For CMT campaigns, Lucia added that you need some “on the ground” pieces. CMT is currently more focused on Facebook and Instagram. They are also partnering with Country Singer Dustin Lynch to promote education thru PSAs and success stories of students.
Switching to Paramount Pictures, Jennifer Lynch gave another great example of how they’re tying movie releases to social responsibility. In conjunction with the “Anchorman 2” release, Paramount Pictures had a Movember campaign. Jennifer expanded, “We had very modest goals to get 20 guys and raise a few thousand dollars for cancer research. It all got tweeted and retweeted everywhere….In the end, we had 125 people growing mustaches, and we raised $47,000 for men’s cancer research so it was a great activation for us, and tied in nicely to our film release.”
To make school cool, David Nguyen spoke about Get Schooled’s social media strategy. He explained, “We want to be edgy, we want street cred….with the content on GetSchooled.com and with our initiatives, we use social media to translate into a personality. So if a student likes us or follow us, then they want to see the personality and see how it all plays out for them. What’s in it for them…We also align scholarship and college content to them so they can buzz about it,… and ideally become brand ambassadors.” To engage fans, Get Schooled has gamified rewards and posts funny photos, such as SpongeBob SquarePants with dumb bells and captions that make fun of school.
In the end, Lenore explained their big picture goal is, “Using their connections with their audiences and their reach to empower their audiences and really improve the world by taking actions.”
What do you think about the term Slacktivism? All of these Viacom campaigns are powerful, but shouldn’t a Like or a Favorite count as showing up? In a world where time equals money and short attention spans get even shorter by the minute, isn’t any positive action on social media a good thing?
© Liz H Kelly @LizHKelly, National Digital Entertainment Columnist and Goody Awards Founder