Liveblogging Social Apps for Marketers and Brands: Maximizing Audience Engagement

We’re at We are in New York for the Inside Social Apps conference at the New Yorker Hotel. Inside Facebook Lead Writer Brittany Darwell is moderating a panel consisting of 360i VP of Emerging Media David Berkowitz, Wildfire By Google Chief Evangelist Maya Grinberg, Salesforce Marketing Cloud VP Myles Kleeger and Fan Appz Founder and CEO Jon Siegal. The conversation deals with how marketers and brands can generate and engagement and increase awareness and reach among key demographics.

Darwell: A lot has changed since we last held ISA in San Francisco. What has evolved over this past year and how has it changed what marketers do? Is it better? Worse? More complicated? More expensive?

Siegal: It’s become increasingly more complicated. There are far more channels. The landscape is very challenging but there’s never been a bigger opportunity to leverage these opportunities. I think the days of just counting Likes and retweets are over and we’re looking at them to try and figure out how to make them meaningful.

Darwell: As far as mobile social apps go, what were marketers coming to you to do?

Berkowitz: Before, there was a lot of motivation to create things that were fun and didn’t have huge audiences. But now, we’re taking things that were a little silly and frivlous, but we now take it and figuring out how to have it help business.

Grinberg: I think monetization is a big theme this year and will be next year. As social networks grow and mature and gets its niche marketing message for brands, goals are going to be really important. Our clients are coming to us with more specific goals like selling more tickets, so having goals is a huge evolution for the year.

Darwell: What are the goals and motivations for creating apps these days?

Siegal: A couple of years ago, people would do throwaway applications, but now they’re focusing on things are really sustainable. You don’t run a website for a month and then stop.

Darwell: Are you seeing changes on the platforms like the types of apps?

Berkowitz: A lot of people have been talking about advertising and marketing changing over the past decade, but it’s gratifying to actually see it in action.

Grinberg: We did some research about whether or not these applications change user behavior; if it differs app by app. We looked at 10,000 apps that Wildfire clients had run and found a distinct difference between the types of apps people would enter into for themselves but not share. There were also apps where there were less people entering the app, but they were way more likely to share about. The main difference between these were that one type would let you show your personality, versus just entering into a sweepstakes or coupon. No single marketer or branch should hone in on just coupons; if you want people sharing your content, you want a healthy balance of these kinds of applications.

Darwell: What are some of your favorite examples of marketing apps?

Siegal: One of my favorites was a thing for Zales where for Mother’s Day, people were asked to share why they loved their moms. So we got to see all these great stories about these folks’ mothers.

Grinberg: I actually have a favorite client- the Washington Redskins. They show an incredible dedication to their fans and are doing incredible things with their social media channels. One of the things they do is host pages where you can launch different looking things and there’s a library of over 95 different templates. Just recently they did around Halloween was let fans vote what costume a player would wear when he was traveling to a children’s hospital: An angry bird, Popeye, Captain America or Batman. Another example is with Google+ Hangouts where they use Wildfire to create a signup for people to interact with their favorite players. They just find really creative ways to use all the tools.

Darwell: It sounds like a lot of marketers are moving towards templates than complex custom applications. Are brands still creating custom experiences or are they  just doing lightweight social media apps?

Siegal: I think there’s still lots of custom work, but the desire to do so has declined because it costs a lot of money to build custom applications. So if you’re partnered with a company that has an app you can customize, I think people will lean towards that.

Berkowitz: I disagree to an extent. I think when you want to do something that doesn’t require customization, groups will create a quick app that can still make the brand look good.

Darwell: What’s next, specifically, what platforms are marketers going to look towards and what applications are they looking to build?

Kleeger: It’s impossible to say. I’m curious to see where Pinterest makes things go; there’s massive opportunity that has yet to be unlocked. You’re starting to see maturity where some of the other networks are starting to catch up with Facebook’s technology. I don’t think there’s new technology as there is new opportunities.

Siegal: Clearly Facebook is a big player, but we see a lot of new activity around Instagram and Twitter. As Twitter becomes bigger and better to build upon, it’ll expand.

Berkowitz: Groups like Pinterest, Instagram, Foursquare. I’m really interested about what they’re going to do for brands, as well looking at what assets can create an experience; like Bravo’s tie in to Watch What Happens Live.

Grinberg: Advertising and analytics. Facebook’s changed or pulled back on ad units, making them do different things. Google social extensions, meanwhile, have been shown to lif click-through rates. Twitter has recently really upped the ante based on specific user accounts’ info.