Electronic Arts: Social media case study — Live from Member Meeting 34

Coverage of this session by Evette Tan of SocialMedia.org. Connect with her by following her on Twitter.

2:10 — SocialMedia.org's Erin McDaniel introduces Electronic Arts' Senior VP of Global Communications, David Tinson.

2:12 — David on how EA integrates social media into the center of their marketing efforts: No longer does the world function on one-way forms of communication. Consumers used to be bystanders, but now the landscape has changed.

2:13 — This has led marketers to believe that marketing to consumers has never been easier. But as EA has looked at what those multiple channels mean, they've realized that truly connecting with consumers has never been harder.

2:14 — The reality is that brands in many ways are now more like media companies. When EA thought about where they fit and the ways they would typically connect and engage and push messages, they compared themselves to how other media companies operated. Being on social alone could put EA on very comparable ground with other media companies that EA would have normally bought ad space on.

2:16 — David says EA began thinking about what it meant to operate a newsroom like media companies do. They needed to produce content at scale that's relevant and engaging and is executed in a thoughtful and meaningful way.

2:18 — They looked at the EA ecosystem and discovered that just in social alone they have upwards of 485+ social channels and they are producing about 500 pieces of content a day. This seems like a good thing, but this is something they needed to manage in terms of making those destinations engaging and relevant in a culturally relevant way.

2:19 — That's why EA decided to operationalize their digital newsroom. David says they needed to put some discipline around the six core tenets of their newsroom:

  1. Standards and policies
  2. Listening
  3. Creating
  4. Optimizing
  5. Distributing
  6. Measuring

2:21 — The first tenet is standards and policies. This sounds boring, but this is important.  The challenge is for them to align across the enterprise:

  • They have a toolset, a core set of systems for publishing and governing their channels.
  • They also talked about alignment so that a social media team is central and part of the DNA of the entire organization. They needed to put rigor around cross-functional digital newsroom meetings.
  • Then they needed to determine what their creative resources were and how their group would transform their skill set in order to support this digital newsroom with the goal of having a consistent voice and drive a common standard across all their social channels.

2:23 — David says the next phase had to start with listening. EA tries to track and listen to something in the magnitude of 80 million conversations a month. They also have a very social-media-savvy fan base.

2:24 — How does listening impact marketing? David talks about how we're able to determine what information people were interested to know about the games they were releasing. Because EA listened, they were able to create shareable and relevant content.

2:25 — In creating the right kind of content, David talks about an example for their Madden game, where a coding error that produced a much smaller player. It could have become a negative, but instead, became their most highly engaged piece of content. They embraced the error's “Tiny Titan” — a move that actually drove Madden sales.

2:27 — David then talks about how they optimized their content with plenty of content testing and analysis to achieve this goal.

2:28 — Distributing the content is another step in the process that can be a real challenge, especially when a brand has a team that works business hours when they know that the certain types of content perform best outside these business hours.

2:29 — Measuring and metrics is the last tenet of their digital newsroom. David talks about how they use metrics to evaluate and determine how they execute in social.

2:30 — For an example, EA realized that the FIFA 15 ratings were a huge part of the social media conversation. They used lightweight content to drive engagement on multiple platforms. Their real objective is to create multi-channel strategies, not multiple channel strategies.

Q & A:

Q: How did you measure the FIFA 15 campaign where 10% of your traffic came from social?

A: We used tracking codes. We needed to be disciplined with our tracking and tagging — it is easier said than done, how we deploy the content, how we track it, how we warehouse the data.

Q: Is there a strategy to leverage brand ambassadors garnering millions of views on YouTube?

A: We spend a lot of time trying to expand that. We have something called Game Changers, which is an influencer program that looks at those top influencers who we know are higher than other media destinations in terms of the impact they have among our fans. We're coming out with a game next month that has been fundamentally impacted by the input we have from these influencers. They were also given carte blanche on talking about the games and making videos about them.

Q: I wanted to ask about your governance and the 480 channels you have. Everybody and their brother wants their own social channel, so how did you handle that?

A: We look at it in a couple of different ways. In terms of internal governance, we've tried to put a structure and story in place around what we're trying to do so with this, we're trying to collaborate with the folks internally who quickly see that launching their own page isn't the best approach.

Q: How do you organize your teams?

A: The way we're structured and the way we then try to manage the accountability is that we have a small center of excellence, which is the core team who are the channel experts and content experts. They use data to present creative solutions. It's a team that's a mix of analysis and systems and creative ideas — they are largely from media backgrounds. That runs horizontally across the team and that group then partners with a quite decentralized product teams across all our brands and franchises. The single biggest challenge we have is getting to scale.