Asking Smarter Questions has always given a significant amount of blogging attention to social media and social marketing strategy.  I pride myself on being cognizant of all digital marketing channels as a means of participating fully in integrated marketing strategies, so any weight that might be given to the discussion of social media marketing should not be interpreted as a nod to its importance above all other digital media.

The rising levels of conversations taking place around the newest form of digital marketing media is occurring because new technologies in social media are rapidly emerging, and because social media and social consumers are changing the way we advertise.  Social consumer behavior is not only changing the platforms digital marketers use, but the content messaging required to effectively promote products and services.

At the end of October a two day conference will take place with 500 hundred of the top brand managers, and agencies representing those brands, in attendance.  The Pivot Conference was created to help brands navigate the shifting marketing landscape and answer the questions that social networking has introduced.

As a means of conference promotion podcasts are being produced for Pivot interviewing industry leaders on the subject of social consumers.  Two podcasts on the subject are available to date.  The format for each interview appears to be the same, starting the interviewee off with the two questions.

(1)  What is your definition of a social consumer?

(2)  What is social more about – advertising, marketing, messaging, transactional, etc.?

This week, the VP of E-Commerce for Ticketmaster and Livenation, fielded the podcast questions.  Because Kip Levin is the event industry, answering the first question is easy enough as he points out that his industry is an obvious one for social interaction given the products he is pushing are generally sold in groups of 2, 4, 6 etc.  His consumers are social by nature and since people are more likely to go see a concert if a friend recommends it, consumers make the best marketers. As to the second question, the Livenation/Ticketmaster marketing strategy is currently solely organic, but they do intend to eventually use advertising to promote their social strategy.

The primary challenge Ticketmaster and Livenation have for successfully using social is creating awareness before an event is essential.  It is natural for people to reach out on social networks to praise a concert or event after it takes place, but more tickets will get sold if their social strategy will create engagement in time to sell more tickets. One social tactic that has paid off for Levin is a Facabook module where ticket buyers can RSVP and that information populates into their newsfeed.  Levin reiterates the need to measure social media marketing efforts and notes that every time someone shares this RSVP over $5 in sales are generated.  Now he just has to figure out how to dial that number up by figuring out how to get the others going to the concert that weren’t the actual purchaser can be motivated to engage as well.

The part of the interview that resonated most with me was Levin’s reasoning for testing various social networks and platforms.  With any digital marketing channel, continuity in testing is essential because what works today may not work tomorrow.  As consumers are presented with more social media options, the landscape will continue to develop and shift.  To implement a successful social strategy you have to know your social media options and be an innovator on how to use them to engage your consumers. Levin points out in his interview, “as consumer behavior starts to change I want to be in a position to be able to take advantage of it.”