A&E Network: Critics’ Choice Awards social media case study — Live from Member Meeting 35

Coverage of this session by Bridgette Cude of SocialMedia.org. Connect with her on LinkedIn or follow her on Twitter.

4:30 — SocialMedia.org's Erin McDaniel introduces A+E Television Networks' Senior Director of Social Media and Fan Engagement, Morgan Greco.

4:31 — Morgan: We bought the rights to the Critics' Choice Awards for four years. We decided to launch it in a very crowded awards environment.

4:32 — Morgan: To reposition it, we found that the stars and Hollywood in general really thought these awards were important — even if people didn't necessarily watch the awards, the stars went.

4:33 — Morgan: People want to see the behind-the-scenes with celebrities, so for us, that was our “in.”

4:34 — This awards show is never going to be the Oscars. But how can we position this show to be the most legitimate awards show?

4:35 — Our goals: win the night in Twitter TV buzz. Why? We monetize with ad sales — and while ratings weren't going to be there, we could compare to other people in our industry with social chatter. We could show that this night was relevant, potentially bring more advertisers in, and spread word of mouth.

4:36 — Morgan: No one had talked to the critics before. And we had some of the major critics partnering with us to give a sneak peek behind the curtain. We did Reddit AMAs, but to be honest, it didn't go as we'd hoped. 300 total page views, 100 total questions — but we're glad we tried it.

4:37 — We also rolled out a series of videos called “Mingling with Movie Stars” — a social center-piece where Michael Strahan teased a huge campaign.

4:38 — They partnered with nine different sites to get awareness out there for what the critics choice is.

4:39 — They worked with software called a “Twitter Mirror” — like a FaceTime camera that allows celebrities to take a picture of themselves, write on it, and tweet it out from their account. It was their initial entry on the red carpet and pushed it out to their various channels.

4:40 — Within their war room, they were managing gifs, creating cards with quotes, as well as developing content from the social centerpiece.

4:41 — Social Centerpiece: The crux of our whole event. We placed all of our bets on this. (And to be honest, I was so nervous that no one would use it.) 40 iPad minis on each table with celebrities and preloaded with a Twitter Mirror, Vine, and Twitter. Everything else was off the screen.

4:42 — They worked with Strahan to do a couple of callouts on air as well. They could post photos “live” to their Twitter account where their team could collect content within the war room and vet posts.

4:43 — This helped us to gain photo rights and use celebrity photos on a budget.

4:44 — We leaned heavily on the critics to help teach the celebrities to use it. We asked them to be our ambassadors. We held phone calls with them, we emailed them, and we gave them a legitimate excuse to talk to the celebrities.

4:45 — We boosted the content happening organically with paid.

4:46 — Sponsored sweepstakes: It's really important for us to have sponsors. We were able to get people excited on air and on social by pushing out live content for Pizza Hut through exclusive coupons. It was an example of the on air team and digital team working together.

4:47 — Did it work? Yes, is the short answer. It was the highest rated cable performance for the CCA ever. But more importantly, we won the entire week in Twitter TV ratings. Tons of press from covering celebrity selfies.

4:48 — In less than two weeks, we needed to push out more content — we had too many people being too precious with the content and the copy, micromanaging what went out. The fans didn't care if the content was appropriate — they just wanted to see more celebrities.

4:49 — We also found that we should have trained the critics more heavily with something like a password-protected YouTube video so they can watch it a few times instead of hearing it on the phone once.

While the critics were really important to the awards, we wanted to include fans more. We decided to include them in the process, so we're including a binge-worthy award, fan art for the red carpet, letting people send a drink directly to a celebrity with a tweet.

Q & A:

Q: As far as the red carpet fan art goes, was there any other ROI for this campaign?

A: We haven't done this campaign yet, but the ROI will be two-fold, giving the photos to the media, and working with Tumblr to make the initiative stronger and promote it more. The return will also come afterward by rewarding fans for their fandom.

Q: How do you balance your pieces of content to keep from flooding and annoying people?

A: We talked about this a lot, and we figured that if you're following the Critics Choice handle, you're probably interested in it and want more content. It's about monitoring the conversation and listening for people to tell you to shut up. Playing it literally by ear.

Q: Do you have Periscope, Meerkat, or Snapchat in any part of your strategy?

A: We've hired a Periscope steady-cam artist to help us create a choose your own adventure campaign for fans to tell him where to go. We haven't played with Snapchat that much because it's not necessarily right for our older audience. I'm hesitant to start it because I think you shouldn't launch and leave a platform for one campaign.

Q: Who is in your war room and what is your content approval process?

A: We have an agency with a big team, and my internal team has about four people. We have copywriters, approval people, and some employees in a New York War Room. Last time it was chaotic. As far as the approval process goes, we approve as much as we can in advance.

Q: Michael Strahan did some pre-seed campaign videos: Did you distribute those through the talent's channels?

A: Strahan posted them on his own accounts, but we didn't pass it along to talent because we didn't have a contact with them. But we could tweet to them. They wouldn't necessarily retweet a video with Michael Strahan, but they did retweet photos of themselves.