For this past year’s Grammy Awards, one unique approach used was the creation of a community blogger forum. For each musical genre there was a blogger on the floor giving a virtual play-by-play so that fans for each respective group (hip-hop, jazz, classical, pop, etc.) could experience the show through the unique perspective of that particular music culture. It created a niche that filtered through all of the information that’s important to the specific portion of the audience. “They understand that a tweet can start off small then snowball in to a massive trending topic,” says Andrews, “And they’ve built a way to support that arch and move with it.”
While Andrews can’t provide specific trade-secret details of how the Grammy Awards so successfully utilized the ‘story-arch’ strategy, he did have one useful hint: “Social media is a culture,” he affirms. “It’s not just about individuals. And you can feel the difference of when an organization is embedded in the culture of social media versus when they’re just trying to capitalize without really knowing what they’re dealing with. In the future, I can see new careers in social media for people to act as intermediaries between the viewer and the show—maybe when a viewer sees someone on an awards show or a TV show with a pair of shoes they like, they can tweet to the intermediary and get an immediate response about what brand of shoes they’re wearing. It would be like customer service for television. I think Twitter works well today, but it’s important to note that it’s the behavior that creates a movement, not the tool.”
That’s not to say that there are no potential concerns to be raised from this new marketing tool and the behavior it supports. Several industry insiders have raised questions about the ethical implications of “sponsored tweets”, which is when a company pays to have a celebrity casually mention their product on Twitter. Reality star Kim Kardashian allegedly rakes in $10k per tweet from some sponsors.
This practice raises concerns about the genuineness of the medium as users may soon be unclear about which tweets are true and which are just for a quick buck or other corporately driven motives. “We live in a capitalistic society,” Humphrey cautions. “The money is fast and free, but you have to be honest in your marketing… There are a couple of Websites that, depending on your Internet profile and visibility, even if you aren’t a celebrity you can still name your price for tweeting about a product. It’s buyer beware.”