MTV is quickly becoming the leader in leveraging content marketing and social influencers to drive social TV initiatives. In January, the network hired a 21 year old social media editor, Kaitlyn Vella, who, as part of a duo called ‘The Wolf Pack,’ posted recap rap songs to YouTube about episodes of ‘Teen Wolf.’
“An influencer in her own right, we recognized her as a great talent and snapped her up as soon as she finished school,” Tom Fishman, Vice of Content Marketing and Fan Engagement for MTV, told Lost Remote. “One of the many things about her we loved was her great familiarity with young, up-and-coming social content creatives, and when we started building our influencer network in anticipation of the 2013 VMAs, Kaitlyn turned us on to O2L.”
Our2ndLife (O2L), a pop culture blogger boy band, will work alongside MTV’s social team to create and socialize content tied to the 2014 MTV Movie Awards. O2L has 1.5 million YouTube followers and 483,000 Twitter followers.
According to MTV, “[t]his marks the first time a television network has collaborated with a social influencer for the entirety of an annual tentpole event.” The partnership has kicked off already: MTV has supplemented their traditional nominations announcement with a special featuring ‘After Hours’ host Josh Horowitz and O2L. The content has been appearing on MTV and across O2L’s social channels.
In our conversation with Fishman, we asked him about how O2L will benefit MTV, MTV’s influencer strategy moving forward, and his predictions for how content marketing will impact social TV.
Lost Remote: How do you foresee this collaboration benefitting MTV (and specifically, the Movie Awards) and fans?
Tom Fishman: Most brands think influencer marketing is about tapping into the influencers’ followers. That’s true in a sense, we love engaging O2L’s audience, but it’s much more than just paying them to shill. I think of it the other way around – the huge audiences these kids have developed is a measure of their ability to create great, engaging content. And that’s the business MTV is in. So we feel that providing these guys with world class experiences, like going to the Movie Awards, the Miley Cyrus Unplugged concert, the VMAs, the sets of our shows – we’re putting them in a position to do what they do best, and that’s get excited to make and share create great content. After that, we believe the audiences – theirs, ours, and new – will follow.
LR: How has MTV leveraged social influencers in the past, and do you think that will be a large part of your content and promotion strategy moving forward?
Fishman: Back in 2012, we commissioned five well-known Tumblr GIF artists create custom GIFs in promotion for that year’s VMAs. Here are some of the GIFs, and here’s a spot we made from them that aired on TV. We had Tyler Oakley co-host the Teen Wolf digital after show series with a superfan last season, and Lohanthony is co-hosting with comedian Morgan Evans this time around. We had power-Viners Nicholas Megalis and RiFF RAFF take over MTV’s Vine from the VMA’s red carpet last year, and had Tyler, Instagram photog Daniel Arnold (@arnold_daniel) and O2L instagramming from the red carpet as part of our #instarazzi real time marketing campaign. Viners Jerrome Jarre, Nash Grier and Brandon Calvillo recently created custom promos for this season of Teen Wolf, and we just sent Tyler and the O2L kids to the Miley Cyrus: Unplugged concert.
But influencers aren’t just kids who found fame via social networks. We’re lucky to have access to show talent, celebs and artists who are of course also very influential to help us drive audience engagement and our overall business. The influencers will be a large part of our content strategy, but so will anyone who creates content that engages our audience! You don’t have to be internet famous…but it does help us find you.
LR: What type of impact have you seen content marketing having on social TV?
Fishman: It definitely has helped juice engagement numbers significantly. We’re not making a real time ratings correlation just yet, but suffice to say we love the results we’ve been getting, and believe in the long term benefits of these relationships, not just for our shows, but for our credibility as a brand that believes in and supports young artists and creatives.