Its nice to have thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers, but those numbers really don’t mean anything if your audience isn’t engaging with your content. Social media is all about two-way communication as opposed to one-way broadcasting. So unless your audience is Liking, commenting on, sharing, favorite-ing, or retweeting your content, then you might as well just be shouting things into empty space.

By focusing on content that stimulates engagement, Audi’s social-marketing team has been able to blow the competition out of the water. According to Socialbakers, Audi has a higher average engagement rate, by a long shot, than any other major brand. It has a higher Klout score than any other automaker, and grew 932 percent on Twitter in just 10 months. Audi has generated 15 percent more interaction than its biggest competitor, Mercedes-Benz, despite having 2 million less fans.

A lot of this is thanks to the #WantAnR8 campaign, which has been called the most successful Twitter campaign of all time. Magnet ran into the campaign’s creator, Andy White, on Twitter last week, and had the opportunity to ask him a bit about #WantAnR8 and what made the campaign such a hit.

First, can you tell us a bit about who you are and what it is that you do?

Andy White, Senior Social Media Manager for M80 on the Audi account. I actively manage a number of Audi’s social channels while strategizing campaigns and best practices for the brand. What that translates to, on a daily basis, is a lot of tweetdeck and looking at a lot engagement numbers!

It has been called the most successful Twitter campaign in history. How is that measured? What made it different from everything else? And in your opinion, why was it so successful?

AW: #WantAnR8 currently stands as the most engaged with single Tweet of all-time, and Twitter singled it out as the most successful campaign ever at Cannes Lions 2012.

Why? Two things: simplicity + the ultimate halo car = aspiration, engagement, demand.

What exactly is the #WantAnR8 campaign, and where did the idea come from? What was your role in it?

AW: At Audi, we monitor multiple threads of conversation simultaneously and have a commitment to listen and engage where appropriate, and it was through this practice that #WantAnR8 was born. This hashtag, originally started by one of our followers, was 100% organic – and it’s for exactly that reason that a natural, evolving conversation was able to develop. It recently was featured in a nationally run TV advertising campaign, the culmination of over a year of content social messaging. This hashtag is now utterly synonymous with Audi social.

My specific role was to identify our follower, take the hashtag and formulate an 18-month long campaign and messaging platform around it. It worked because of its simplicity is ideally suited to its platform: do you #WantAnR8? Tell us why and we’ll deliver one to you! Many times social campaigns are bogged down in multiple steps or barriers to entry. This campaign was the antithesis to that.

You tweeted a comment today (July 26) about the awkwardness of Nike’s Promoted Trend. If you could pick the #1 most annoying thing about social media (marketing or otherwise) what would it be?

AW: Probably not speaking directly to your consumers, your followers, your fans, your whatever. Still so many brands or individuals talk at them. There’s a distinct difference in approach, and it’s one that separates those who ‘get’ it and those who don’t. This is the first time in human history that a brand – an entity – has been able to speak directly to the public on a global, macro and individual level. The power there is immense, but the trust needs to be there between organization and its social media team for it to be taken advantage of.

What other lessons about social media can a brand learn from #WantAnR8?

AW: Always be listening. The best campaign ideas in social can – quite literally – come at any time, from any place. You have to be prepared to react to what you’re hearing, however, that is the key.

What do you think about the #WantAnR8 campaign? Do you plan to focus on higher engagement with your social media strategy? Let us know in the comments and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn.

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