Marketing the Grammys Via Social Media: Not as Easy as It Seems

Rick Ross, Common, Lupe Fiasco To Honor Grandmaster Flash at Grammy Noms Concert

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You would think that the job of marketing the Grammy Awards would be an easy job. It isn't.

No one knows this better than Evan Greene, the Recording Academy's chief marketing officer, who spoke with as he gears up for the event on Feb. 10.

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The challenge, in a nutshell, is this: The awards show happens one night a year, after which audiences shift their attention elsewhere. This is especially true of social media users, whose attention spans are notoriously brief.

Consider: The "half-life" of a Facebook post is just 30 minutes, according to Marketing Charts, meaning half of the post's engagement comes within 10 minutes of posting it. The "half-life" of a Tweet is a fraction of that, just 9.9 minutes, according to Twitter engineering manager Colin Brumelle.

As a result, keeping the conversation going about the Grammys all year long is "our biggest challenge," Greene said. How does he do it? We spoke to him about this very issue.

Having used social media tools since 2009, are there any bigger lessons you've learned?
The universal truth we discovered is that people are fundamentally looking for two things: discovery and community. If there is discovery, that leads to enhanced community. Boiled down to its essence, it's really about the conversation. How do we feed the conversation and continually and introduce innovation into the conversation not only during Grammy season, but year round, so when the Grammys do come along, we already have a solid foundation of fans.

You just introduced a Pinterest contest, "Pin Your Way to the Grammys," as well as a "Get Me to The Grammys" social game on Facebook. How do those fit into what you're trying to accomplish?

These are part of the natural evolution of the conversation and our efforts to create deeper engagement, wherever our fans are. That means we try to be everywhere music is important, whether it's at Bonnaroo, South-by-Southwest, or elsewhere.

Our biggest challenge, now that we have become the largest social event in the history of TV last year with 13 million social comments, is how we continue to stoke the conversation and find new ways to reach that audience, not just during the event, but year round.

How do you do that?
Research and data is becoming more important to what we do. As tools get better, we can learn which initiatives are better and which ones we need to rethink. Right now, fans today are not easy to reach. They exist in different pockets across all media and devices. If you are strategic and fortunate, those pockets can overlap, and that's when you catch lightning in a bottle. But we're not there, yet.

Where are you now?

We're in a different position than other consumer brands. We're not selling something. We're simply trying to engage and stoke the conversation and increase our resonance. It's a lit more tricky than challenging than your traditional consumer brand that's looking to use social media to sell something. We represent an ideal, prestige, and something very special in the music industry. A lot of tools try to help you sell more stuff. In our case, it's more nuanced.

How do you quantify success?
When you can look at sales, you can back out and attribute sales increases to certain campaigns. But when you're talking about the Grammy's, the ultimate metric is viewership. It's much harder and more complicated to assign a percentage of viewership based on your social effort.

What does success look like for you?
Success is about sentiment, depth of conversation, ratings, engagement levels. It's a little different than the key performance indicators of other brands.
Here's a look at how The Grammy's social reach has grown since 2009:
January 2009
Twitter - 829 Followers
Facebook - 478 Fans (Likes)
YouTube - 14,548 Views

July 2010
Twitter - 40,800 Followers
Facebook - 120,498 Likes
YouTube - 7,121,725 Views

August 2011
Twitter - 174,912 Followers
Facebook - 282,735 Likes
Foursquare - 4,655 Followers
Instagram - 7,105 Followers
YouTube - 15,900,179 Views

December 2012
Twitter - 542,199 Followers
Facebook - 809,707 Likes
Google+ - 975,738 Followers
Instagram - 72,640 Followers
Soundtracking - 32,255 Followers
YouTube - 22,482,068 Views
Tumblr - 3,248 Followers
Pinterest - 1,635 Followers

(Source: The Recording Academy.)