Managing Social For The Largest Events In The World with Madeline Mesevage

The AMA's, Golden Globes, and the Billboard Music Awards rank among the largest entertainment events in the world.  Putting together an event of that magnitude that encapsulates the excitement and energy of the show is no easy task.  For more than 55 years, Dick Clark Productions has embraced that challenge and continues to produce award-winning shows year after year.

On this edition of the Business of Social podcast, we chatted with Madeline Mesevage from Dick Clark Productions to discuss how DCP produces some of the largest events in the world.  Maddy is the Sr. Manager of Operations for Brand, Marketing, & Digital Strategy where she handles the content creation and overall strategy behind these award-winning shows. We talked at length with Maddy about the strategies and tactics behind the months of preparation that go into this massive undertaking.

Listen to the full show here: (and please subscribe to our podcast!)

Here are the highlights:

[3:57] - What is today's main social KPI and how has it changed over the years?

"Tune-in is inherent to everything we do. It's important and you can't get around it.  As a digital, social person, I've had to teach myself that TV is still really important. Most people talk about how TV viewership is declining, which is true, but it's still the main way people are consuming linear content.

That being said, we've begun thinking of social and digital not as a second screen experience, but instead as a complimentary first screen experience. We create programming per platform. We have shows running for Twitter, running for Instagram, and running for Facebook.  Each are tailored to the specific platform's target audience."

[6:35] - How do you tailor the narrative of content to a specific social platform and it's audience?

"There's information that needs to be provided across all platforms. It's not that we produce an entirely different narrative for Facebook, it's the way in which the narrative is presented. For example, if you had a performer announcement, on Facebook you might do a video that is about the performer. Facebook has a slightly older audience that is apt to consuming longer video content. So, the asset to get that information across would be more trailer-esk with a storyline.

On Twitter, you have a younger audience that is slightly more "click-baity".  People just want to know what the content is. They are not typically looking to find out about the performer, they just want to know who the performer is."

[8:04] - LIVE streaming strategies: how do you prepare?

"We think of LIVE streams unto themselves. The majority of our shows have preshows, which is important for our department. It's very valuable for pushing tune-in to the broadcast.

It's another chance for our department to be creative.  We've seen it become a platform and opportunity for massive cultural moments, where talents can talk about anything they’re pushing. It's where people can candidly speak about movements that are important to them and other things like that.

The value of the content isn't the same as the main show, but we definitely don't think of it as 'on-the-side'."

[12:41] - How important to the success of the show are the performers & presenters and their social followings?

"The talent are everything. We do a lot of analysis around their social followings in terms of how they move the needle on the broadcast versus how they move the needle during the lead-up. There's talent who spark mass amounts of conversation and there's talent with super engaged fan bases that talk about a lot of things during the lead-up.

We spend a lot of time and energy creating content for talent and doing outreach. I personally think they’re very valuable. That's not to say we book our shows based on the talents performance on social, because the social-to-broadcast viewer correlation is not perfect. But we put a lot of time and energy into them."

[14:53] - Social influencers: How do you measure their value and show that in terms of analytics?

"The bubble I see happening is between influencers as personalities versus influencers as distribution outlets. Some brands are very good at choosing the personality that has the best reach, but also aligns and cares about what they're doing as a brand. On the other hand, there are a lot of brands that just want that person's audience, which is problematic. Influencers don't enjoy that type of relationship, which leads to very expensive posts.

The influencer relationships that I feel work well are when the influencer loves the brand and the brand loves the influencer.

We love influencers and influencers love our shows, which has lead to super successful programs and relationships.  We’re able to invite them to our events, we’re able to show them a high-quality experience and in return they post about the event. Generally speaking, they would be doing that regardless."

[21:23] - What are the “must-have” software tools for social?

"We use NetBase, they're great. We are able to do a lot of analysis during lead-up. On show day, we have a live dashboard where we can see conversations bubbling up before they happen and before they start trending. After the show, we use it to analyze which gets very granular. We're able to see how performers moved the needle pre-and-post, how presenters moved the needle pre-and-post, what people liked or disliked, and other things like that.

We also use Neilson for ratings, which is the industry standard."

[22:45] - When do you all decide to invest time, energy, & money into new platforms & features?

"We never wait and see. It's about shifting the value proposition. When something's new, it's inherently valuable.  In our industry, being ahead of the times carries a lot of weight. If something's just rolling out, we're more likely to try it even if it doesn't end up being a huge moneymaker for us."

[23:42] - What social platform do you see as being “undervalued” that others can capitalize on?

"I think people should spend more time on Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories is the most brilliant thing in the world, it's entirely different. We create original programming for our Instagram stories. We spend a lot of time, energy and money to make sure that experience is really high quality.

QUICK TIP:  There's a lot of interesting things you can do with Instagram Stories and you can be very strategic about it. For example, you can go live for a bit, which brings you to the front of everyone's feed."

[25:20] - What are some of the most important roles you should have on your core internal marketing, social, and content team?

"Having a good creative team and people who really understand the social landscape is super important. I also think that having someone with the ability to create relationships with partners and artists is becoming increasingly important as well."

[28:40] - What do you think the future of OTT vs. digital is?

"It's a hard question, but I think it's going to be some time before the key networks are not extremely valuable.  It's easy to become immersed in digital and social and to think of TV as archaic. In reality, it's still very powerful. It's like the moon landing moments, where you had everybody gathered around for one thing. We like to think of our events as culturally significant moments with mass gatherings. The unifying element is the TV. 

I do think there is going to be a heavy shift towards digital, it's just hard to say when."

[33:42] - How do you get the most from external teams & vendors and utilizing them effectively?

"There are so many moving parts, especially when we are putting on an event in a short amount of time. We use a lot of vendors. They do things from setting up the red carpet, to running votes, to social activations, and even the broadcasting. We use vendors for specific things when we need a large team to handle the content creation, publishing, and management that we have around the event. 

We don't need a team of 30, 365 days a year. But during show week, we need a huge staff to spike up on."

[35:22] - What are some tips for creating a well-branded experience for your audience?

"When you look at brand integrations on TV, most think you just put "presented by" in front of it. No, there were months and months of creative conversations and brainstorms that went into that placement. It needs to work creatively and we take that mantra all the way through digital and social. We have to be super aware not to alienate our wide audience.

We've done a lot of testing. What types of post get less engagement, what causes followers to drop, etc. Most of our testing is done in the offseason because it's easier to monitor engagement. We do analysis around the shared voice between brands and editorial content from our different social platforms. 

We're also sensitive to any implied endorsement issues with talent. We want to provide integrations that are very organic. For example, we've done integrations with Samsung where every person is capturing content utilizing a Samsung device. Then, when we say “powered by Samsung,” it's true. The content was literally powered by Samsung. That type of integration is very important."

[43:48] - What's the future of the social industry (YouTube strategy)?

"I'm excited for another social platform to emerge. When popped up, we worked with them immediately. It's never easy to go up against the giants, but you don't necessarily have to go up against them, you just have to do something different and something unique.

When you look at Spotify even, which isn't a social platform, but they're suddenly curating playlist which has become a form of currency. Now, even the placement of the song in the playlists can be a make-or-break. I think they're a good example of how different formats are changing our industry. 

We also look at platforms like YouTube.  When we think of YouTube, we see it as "search vs. find." On Facebook, you can find content. On YouTube, you search for content. It hasn’t always been a huge strategy focus for us, but more and more it’s becoming a focus.  What do people immediately do after an event? Do you want to see a performance? Do you want to see an acceptance speech? You search it on YouTube. More and more, we're going to start focusing our efforts on our YouTube experience and making sure it has unique content."