Business Insider reporter Aaron Taube recently took a look at the world of corporate social media, where writing a 140-character tweet can take up to 45 days. He explains the long and careful process.
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
If you own a social media account, like Facebook or Twitter, you're probably used to seeing companies post from their corporate accounts. Well, those are not impulsive off-the-cuff messages. A corporate tweet can evidently be up to 45 days in the making and involve more than a dozen marketing professions who plan, approve and eventually publish those 140 characters. Aaron Taube, a reporter with Business Insider recently took a look at the very involved process behind a single corporate tweet. He joins us now from New York. Thanks for joining us.
AARON TAUBE: Thanks so much for having me.
SIEGEL: You went to an advertising agency - it's called Huge - to watch people actually work on a corporate tweet and corporate social media. What made you want to do this?
TAUBE: Well, you know, over the last decade or so these social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, have really sprung up and grown in popularity and, you know, as audiences have moved these platforms there's been a whole new industry of social media marketers. And any time you go on a job board in the media industry you see listings for community managers and social media managers, and I just sort of wanted to know what goes into all of this and what these people do all day.
SIEGEL: At Huge, what kind of a team could spend 45 days composing a tweet?
TAUBE: Well, it's a team of a community manager, copywriter and a designer. They work together in sort of planning stages. So, for instance, they work on the cosmetics brand, Hard Candy, and so if prom is coming up they say, OK, well, we need to talk about prom because this is relevant to our audience. Those ideas are pitched with the community manager and then with a project manager and they discuss what works and what doesn't. And then they're sent to senior people within the company to approve and then later they're sent to the client.
SIEGEL: Is that process more complicated, the bigger the company? That is, are there more levels of vice presidents involved and more review if it's a bigger client then - you know, are there other more nimble, small clients who can get a message out quicker than that?
TAUBE: Sure, absolutely. And even for that brand a lot of their other messages are put out more quickly. You have sort of two divisions of these posts. You have sort of the live, real time and you have the planned in advance. For instance, at this past year's Super Bowl, Hyundai set up a war-room, and they had 30 people watching the game together and it was everyone from the head of integrated marketing to a caricaturist.
SIEGEL: Just waiting to tweet about anything that they could relate to Hyundai?
TAUBE: Yeah. Yeah. One thing that they did was they had an 'about dads' at this year's game, and someone tweeted about how, oh I love this ad with the dads, and the man had a photo of his son in his twitter avatar. And they tweeted him back a caricature of the son saying, you know, we also think dads are important.
SIEGEL: We at Hyundai.
SIEGEL: Are these typically young people - I mean, people of the social media generation - who are composing these tweets?
TAUBE: Yes, for the most part the people who work in social media are young people and that's one of the really fascinating things about the industry. I was talking to some of the people there and they were saying, you know, I went to marketing school and they didn't even have the best practices for this yet. So it's a lot of young people who've grown up with social media, who are familiar with the platforms, and they're all developing the best practices and figuring out what works all kind of in real-time. And another fascinating thing, too, is that the platforms themselves are developing rapidly. Facebook made a major change to its algorithm back in December in a way that made it much more difficult for brands to gain exposure on the platform. And that completely changed the entire way all of these social media marketers were doing business.
SIEGEL: Do you think that advertisers are using social media at all as the huge focus group where you can try things out? If it flies and if it's retweeted a lot then you can use that in other media and figure that's a message that probably works.
TAUBE: Absolutely. I was talking to one executive once and he was telling me how the great thing about social media is if you have a piece of content - you have a video or a funny photo or something that you put up on social media - and it does well, you already have the content and you can spend more money behind it. You can pay to have it promoted on those social media platforms. You can use it as a display ad and have it come up on the Internet. I don't know if they're may be testing out new taglines so much on social media and giving those a whirl, but certainly individual pieces of creative can get tested on social media before being put in more prominent advertising spaces.
SIEGEL: Aaron Taube, thanks for talking with us.
TAUBE: Thanks so much for having me.
SIEGEL: Aaron Taube is a reporter for Business Insider. He spoke to us from New York. You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.