Contest Lifts Traffic and Buzz for MTV, AmEx

It seems as though there are a lot of folks out there that want to be the social media face of MTV.

On June 14, the network launched a program in conjunction with American Express, called Follow Me: The Search for the first MTV TJ (TJ, as it Twitter Jockey). The idea was to tap into the social media/music junkie universe and find a person who could speak for MTV to the Facebook, Twitter and texting-every-second generation.

Since launching Follow Me, MTV says it has garnered 16,138 individual TJ nominations via ZYNC from American Express’s Facebook page for its young-adult-oriented brand ZYNC. That page has enjoyed a 70 percent surge in traffic, per MTV officials, resulting in nearly 85,000 ‘likes’ by users (Amex just launched the Facebook page this past May). The Follow Me program has also generated over 33,000 tweets among followers.

“The response has really been incredible,” said Mary Hines,vp of ZYNC product development at American Express. “Our surge in fans has really been driven by the TJ contest. For us [with the 20-something aimed ZYNC] we’ve leverage channels at American Express we never have before. We didn’t want to just slap a sponsorship on something. We’ve been a little amazed at how much buzz it’s gathered.”

Besides the burst of Facebook devotees–among the initial 18 TJ candidates that MTV nominated itself—a group selected because they were already super-active social media contributors–most have seen their number of Twitter followers double. Some candidates have enjoyed follower surges of 250 to 300 percent.

On Wednesday (July 7) MTV will name two new candidates drawn from the 16,000-plus fan nominations. Next, the group of 20 candidates will be put through various Twitter competitions aimed at demonstrating their true social media talents. The TJ search is set to culminate in early August, when the winner is announced just a few weeks prior to his or her first assignment—spreading the word digitally during the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles on September 12.

Officials at MTV say that the audience response has exceeded expectations. “It’s incredible,” said MTV gm Stephen Friedman. “It speaks to a number of things. For one, this is how this audience interacts every day. Plus, the promise of a six figure job is pretty incredible…And whoever wins this contest will be very much a pioneer.”