Why You Should Have a Startup Mentality in Social Media with Ken Gibbs, Jr.

 

Ken Gibbs, Jr. is the Vice President of Digital Video and Social Content at BET Networks. He has over 15+ years of experience in the digital industry and has worked with Essence Magazine, MTV Networks, and TheLoop21.com. For the last 6 years he's been with BET overseeing their social media strategy across all their platforms. 

On this episode, Ken takes us on a tour of his role and experience at BET and why being flexible with your social strategy is extremely important. We talk about his core beliefs at BET, how to maximize social distribution, and the mistakes brands are making.

Here are the highlights:

[20:00]: Are you all playing in the IGTV space and what's your opinion in the early stages?

 
 

"We've definitely had our eye on IGTV. We put our first show on there around the BET Awards this year. We put all of our performances there as well. 

For us, we're looking at the value of cropping everything from 16x9 to 9x16. We’ve seen others in the space who are just putting messages in the beginning of their videos saying 'tilt your phone so that you can watch this on a 16x9’. I think ultimately everyone needs to question the ROI.

For us it's the ROI. We put our biggest show of the year on there, the BET Awards, and I think ultimately you need to look at those views. We put some other things on there; I personally haven't seen the traction yet, but we're experimenting."

[44:06]: Other than revenue, how do you measure success on your digital platforms?

 
 

Video views and overall engagement. Time spent as well. Video views can be a bit misleading when you're looking at how many of the platforms actually quantify it (3 seconds). While that metric is important, for us as creators, it's really the watch time, too. They need to know if you were genuinely interested in this, which will give us much more insight into the next episode or franchise."


Full Transcripts

Ep 23- Why You Should Have a Startup Mentality in Social Media with Ken Gibbs, Jr

 

 

[00:00:15.20] David:  All right, guys. He is the vice-president of digital video and social content at BET, Ken Gibbs Jr joins us on the business of social. How you doing, Ken?

 

[00:00:24.38] Ken:  Oh, good, sir. Thank you for having me.

 

[00:00:26.29] David:  Thank you, man. I always kick things off with a random question, so I know you're out there in New York, so I got a couple questions for you, a little rapid fire. Knicks or Nets?

 

[00:00:35.08] Ken:  Celtics. I'm from Boston originally.H

 

[00:00:37.00] David:  Oh, wow, so okay, all right. Best Celtic of all time?

 

[00:00:41.04] Ken:  Oh, geez.

 

[00:00:43.14] David:  Okay, there's a lot to choose from. Being in New York though do you go for Yankees Mets or are you all just a Red Sox faithful?

 

[00:00:51.11] Ken:  Man, I mean, I got to say I go for Yankees being born and raised in Boston, I always told my New York brethren that's it's a lot more fun and civilized just to go to a Yankees game out here with all of your Boston gear on, it's always hands down a great time. I love it.

 

[00:01:07.54] David:  I love it. And just being in New York, would you go for Biggie, Jay-Z or NAS?

 

[00:01:11.20] Ken:  Oh, Biggie. Biggie all day.

 

[00:01:14.26] David:  I love it. All right, man, so I want to walk you through us, your role at BET, just kind of your role and what you oversee day to day, we would love to hear from you?

 

[00:01:22.20] Ken:  Got it. So I mean, my day-to-day role is overseeing the social media strategy across all of the social platforms. That is primarily around building awareness for our linear priorities, our scripted, are unscripted, our tent pole events, as well as our offline events like the BET experience, our festival that happens in LA every year. But it also includes promotion of our digital original series, right? So we've got very popular ones from like DeBarge to even upcoming ones like Sneaker boxes and Colorways, that'll be premiering this week.

 

But also even working with influencers as well, really not only just to build awareness and engage the community but also just to make sure that BET is in the hearts and minds of our target audience, 24/7. Because you the TV might have at certain windows in today's environment and our audience it's an always-on situation.

 

[00:02:20.22] David:  I love it. I heard through Tatyana who works in their team, I think you guys oversee 300 accounts at BET, in social.

 

[00:02:28.21] Ken:  Yeah, I think she might [unclear]. But yeah, I guess.

 

[00:02:32.37] David:  That's quite a bit.

 

[00:02:33.23] Ken:  We've got a number of accounts, and we're optimizing our strategy. I mean, we've kind of ... so prior to myself there was JP Lespinasse, he was the senior director of social media before they had ever created a VP position and really allowed us to grow the team as we have today, which was signaled by bringing on Tatyana and some of the other people that we have as of since. So yes, we do have 300 accounts across Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and some other platforms as well, lower levels. But obviously I think our priorities are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter as well, and we're looking at consolidating those.

 

And part of the reason why the number of accounts is so broad is partially a nod to our past strategy, and I think most networks had this, "Oh, we've got a new show, it's coming out. Let's create an account for it."

 

[00:03:21.58] David:  Let's release seven accounts immediately, yeah.

 

[00:03:23.57] Ken:  Exactly. And what do you do with that next season if the show doesn't come back?

 

[00:03:29.06] David:  Yeah, it's a good point. But there's only so much that can go on the mother ship account, so the @BET account can't serve everything, so how have you found ... I think that's a common ... not issue, but a common thing that every network really dives into is like what goes on the main feed and what do we create as like subsidiary feeds?

 

[00:03:49.02] Ken:  So strategically what goes on the main page should be in connection with what's actually on the linear network, right? Because people are coming to that main feed because of their familiarity with the linear network and looking to get an extension of that experience there. But then in the world where social content and social engagement is now being monetized as well, there's always a balance when you're looking for scale. But we've also got a digital business in which we've got to drive eyeballs to a website, to get a display revenue, pre-roll as well, so it really is a balanced in all of those situations.

 

[00:04:23.29] David:  Love it, man. So you started at BET I think in 2012, right?

 

[00:04:27.45] Ken:  Yep, six years ago in October.

 

[00:04:31.08] David:  So I've heard this a lot from people that started in a certain area like in the 2011/2012, I'm guessing you kind of carved your niche in a way. Like, a 2012 social is a thing, but it's not as huge obviously as it is now for distribution. So it looks like you've kind of worked your way through the ranks of BET as social's grown so as your responsibilities and your role.

 

[00:04:53.21] Ken:  It has been. I mean, I am natively from the startup space, right? So before I came to AOL I was part of Africana.com with Henry Louis Gates and those guys out of Cambridge, and Cambridge after-AM program at Harvard, and we got acquired by AOL back ... I mean, Time Warner quite honestly just before the AOL deal, so I've been in the digital space, I've been doing that for like over 20 years at this point. And I came to BET to do digital operations, really helping them understand how digital could be a separate business unto itself, not just complementary to when linear popular shows were in season. I think during that time I was like, "Oh, show in season, show out a season," in season from a revenue perspective, right?

 

And so I came from a space where we didn't have a network to fall back on, so it was more so like, hey, let's make that line actually plateau and start to inch upward regardless of when our shows run season or we're being hit by a tent pole, so we brought a lot of branded content ideas to BET, really showing them how to create other revenue streams and opportunities.

 

And along that route while we were doing that social began to continue to mature and our target audience itself really began to separate themselves and stand out and show their value there. So I think that also helped the organization understand the appeal that I would bring to kind of augmenting that, but why they needed to really double down on social.

 

[00:06:18.59] David:  That's interesting, because I think I've always said that especially in the next three to five years I think we're going to see a huge shift which is the monetization of these different social platforms, and really bringing in some serious revenue where teams like yourself can continue to scale and bring more resources on. How have you seen it since 2012 being able to create revenue from those digital series outside of just the linear window if you will?

 

[00:06:40.22] Ken:  I mean, it's nothing but upwards, nothing but upwards. I mean, I think people may have noticed our red carpet live streams that generally accompany our tent poles that we do. Those first began as purely marketing vehicles, really building awareness on the social platforms as we lead into a live linear premiere, whether it'd be live or taped, quite honestly. But now sponsors want a presence there as well. Other marketing opportunities that we've created here like the Insta booth, something that we kicked off ...

 

[00:07:11.16] David:  Oh, I was going to ask you about that.

 

[00:07:12.48] Ken:  Okay, well, I don't want to steal the thunders in.

 

[00:07:15.07] David:  Yeah, I love it.

 

[00:07:19.42] Ken:  Well, the only thing I'd say about that is it's a great example of how cool creative opportunities will start off as marketing initiatives also get the attention of sponsors as well.

 

[00:07:31.34] David:  Yeah, and I think how have you seen when you develop these franchises, are you able to ... Do you usually have to start it off with let's do the Insta booth, let's see the engagement we get, from there maybe let's do a rate card for the next year's award show and kind of be able to say we can guarantee you this. And like how does that work in terms of telling the sponsor what they're going to gain from this opportunity?

 

[00:07:53.40] Ken:  I would actually say believe it or not it really depends on the sponsor and the relationship, right? So we've actually kind of done it both ways, the Insta booth example was one that happened just that way. It was something that was successful purely from an organic standpoint, no sponsor association but the creative itself was one that any sponsor would be comfortable with.

 

Then we also had another situation, and this was actually more early on in my tenure at BET where myself JP [unclear] again and Jonathan Davis combined forces to create blocks, #BLX, which was literally a profile series of celebrities walking and talking on the block that they grew up on. And so it's got a bit of geo-location in there as well, there are no on-camera personalities aside from the actual celebrity that you're talking to, keeping production costs very low as well. But also this is something that takes you around the country, right? So that's something that we created internally, and prior to publish for to the sales team, spoke to them about the proper client for it, and then a sponsor actually came on before it was ever natively organically published.

 

[00:09:01.53] David:  Yeah, I think I wanted to talk to you about the Insta booth because I remember that coming across my feed about three years ago I think when you launched it, and then just before this podcast just kind of researching you on LinkedIn as well. I read your article about it. And that's really ... I mean, that was innovative stuff three years ago. I mean, there's a lot of people that are doing that now but you have to remember back in 2015 that was really kind of going out on a limb and doing something really cool. But essentially you were able to get I think 40 different top artists to recreate a kind of rap cities, the basement, which was kind of like a show that everybody has really kind of taken a liking to. But can you talk a little bit about how that all came together and the success from that?

 

[00:09:43.28] Ken:  Yeah, basically, I mean, in a nutshell our BET tent pole properties or award shows are attended by the who's who in urban entertainment, hands down, period. The question was how can we take advantage of their presence in a way that will essentially kind of break the internet by showing consumers, viewers, everyone, how we're able to bring together so many people from so many different disciplines, right?

 

Because if you ... Have you ever made it to the BET Awards?

 

[00:10:15.02] David:  I've watched BET Awards, I have not been there.

 

[00:10:16.58] Ken:  The BET Awards it's kind of it's one half family reunion, one half high school talent show, because you've got so many people from executives to artists that have long-term relationships with one another, right? Just trying to succeed in the business over the years. And they often meet again sometimes it's a few years, sometimes it's a few months, whatever, but it's like a safe place at the BET Awards and the BET environment.

 

So the first year we partnered with Benny Boom, and the idea was like, hey, let's just bring everybody in here and do something super cool. And so we did it, it was great, it looked beautiful but it lacked a cohesiveness, any connective tissue between the dancer, the NBA athlete, and the rapper. Why are all those three people in a room aside from that they're famous enough to get access to the red carpet? So as we look like, okay, it was great, we spent a decent amount of money, we got the proper ROI. Because what a lot of people don't realize about that is after you step out of these booths on the red carpet, by the time you hit your seat, our logistics operation make sure that you or the rep that you've designated has that clip so that you can share it on your social in real time.

 

And so looking at that and examining kind of what we thought went well and what didn't work out the BET Awards we saw the Hip-hop Awards as an opportunity to basically create, and this was definitely dating myself, but the goal was to come out of that with a self-destruction type moment, right? Where all these rappers get together, they make a song, the song strikes fire. It obviously wasn't a self-destruction moment, but the environment itself really did allow for us to put together what three years later has become something that people look forward to each year, which is roughly like a seven-minute track with everyone who's anyone that year in hip-hop.

 

[00:12:10.34] David:  That's awesome. Were you afraid at all or did you guys run to anybody that was a little insecure, like they didn't want to freestyle off the top essentially, like is that a problem?

 

[00:12:21.11] Ken:  Oh, yes, oh, yes. And it made for a lot of comical moments, but I think it also really showed how far hip-hop has come. I mean, relationships are our bread and butter so I'm not going to throw any names out there, but they're just for context year one when you walk up to the booth it was all black, you couldn't see anything, you did not know what was happening inside and that was purposeful.

 

[00:12:45.31] David:  And that's tough for celebrities too, because like what am I walking into, is this homework? I mean, I definitely get that. You got to make it an enticing.

 

[00:12:51.46] Ken:  You do, you do, but it's hip-hop, we got to keep it real, only the strong survives. So you would have ... Year one you have to step up to the door, we gave you a verbal explanation of what it was. You could hear the beats kind of surging from behind it. But you also have to sign everything, all the releases before you step in. We had some big-name rappers, the one ...

 

[00:13:13.12] David:  So you guys won't get sued once the track goes to Grammy?

 

[00:13:16.38] Ken:  Exactly. Or you might have gotten there and said something that that's not yours or something like that. But there were a few big artists, one in particular that stepped in, looked, and was like, "No, no, I get paid to rap."

 

[00:13:31.47] David:  Interesting.

 

[00:13:33.03] Ken:  And it was very interested. But we all had a big laugh about it, but there was also somebody who was much older than him, been in the booth [unclear] for years, many times, and this is really a draw for the aspect of the rap community that looks back with nostalgia on rap city which just says, "When my career kicked off the show wasn't here. I never got my chance in the booth with BET." So that's really also what we did this for, and why people are excited.

 

[00:13:58.00] David:  That's awesome. And like you said if guys weren't down to rap like Dj Khaled or Rick Ross, they're just kind of in the background kind of be in the hype man and stuff like that, so you could find a way to get those big names. That's awesome, man.

 

I've always said that I think as we go towards 2019/2020 it's really kind of taking a page at the late-night TV, you see carpool karaoke how successful that's been, or mean tweets, and it sounds like you're on that same wavelength. Like, how can we package these franchises up so that way they're monetizable and it's actually a tangible thing that we can go to sponsorship with or sponsors and partners come to us and say, hey, we really want to be involved with that? It seems like you get that part of the game, and even got it before a lot of others have.

 

[00:14:41.44] Ken:  Yeah, I mean, like I said I'm from the start-up space, so you normally start with something and have to after a certain point give a serious consideration as to how you're going to be allowed to continue. So bringing in revenue is just a part of the game.

 

[00:14:56.10] David:  And it seems like you've done a good job of kind of product define these different elements that your team is working on, so that way that end-game does happen.

 

[00:15:04.18] Ken:  Definitely so, and at every turn trying never to sacrifice their creativity.

 

[00:15:08.41] David:  I love it. All right, so I want to get some overall general questions. When you think of social, how do you and your team approach social and what's your kind of core belief on how to utilize that distribution?

 

[00:15:21.50] Ken:  So I mean, I think the core approach to social is to be true to our audience, right? It is a nuance consumer who is engaging with our brand 24/7, and they aren't held to the same rules that we are, they're going to speak truthfully and we've got to be respectful and mindful of that. What we're going to get from them is true, and we've got to bring that internally quite honestly to all of our other partners who realize that our team is on the front lines communicating the reaction of the audience to their creative product.

 

[00:15:59.06] David:  Yeah, I think that's funny that you said that, a lot of people have said this on this show. And for some reason, I mean, programming your content to your audience seems like such an obvious thing that you would do, but still I think a lot of brands miss that where their programming for the money or their programming for what's happening internally, and it's not what the fan base wants to see?

 

[00:16:19.15] Ken:  It is, but I think also we're all human beings and at certain points in your life you may be closer to the audience than you ultimately turn out to be years down the line when you're sitting in that seat, right? And I think social kind of allows a lot of us to stay forever young, so to speak and really get that genuine unfiltered feedback.

 

[00:16:45.02] David:  That's a good point. What is one thing you think brands are not doing enough of or make mistakes when they're speaking to their audience on social?

 

[00:16:55.41] Ken:  Not doing enough of, speaking to them in a tone that is fitting for the environment that the audience lives in, right? And it's interesting because I think as of late you've seen the food brands, the fast food brands in particular like Wendy's is like the champion.

 

[00:17:15.14] David:  Taco Bell has always been good.

 

[00:17:17.29] Ken:  Taco Bell, definitely. I think Taco Bell was there first and Wendy's kind of took it from them. But I think it's really those brands understanding that the nature of their product alone allows them more room than some of us other brands, us media brands in particular in terms of speaking to the audience in a language that they would speak to one another with. When you're at a network level as particularly a niche network like BET, I always say, "We're speaking to the granddaughter and the grandmother from a brand perspective at the same time."

 

[00:17:52.33] David:  That's tough.

 

[00:17:53.31] Ken:  Right, but that's also where social and our social strategy really comes to play, because at least at this point we aren't thinking that there are many grandmother's on a Snapchat for instance, so from a tonal perspective we can speak more directly to the granddaughters there and really just looking internally at our analytics we might think or have proof and reason to believe that there's a bit of an older audience on our Facebook channel for instance. So even though we've got a larger voice we really do kind of dissect it and divide it up per platform and account as it relates to some of the shows.

 

[00:18:28.00] David:  I love that. What is your guys' like core demo on social at BET?

 

[00:18:32.44] Ken:  Core demo would be a female consumer. Yes, our core demo across the majority of the platform to the exception of YouTube, and I think that more so speaks to YouTube as a platform, but yes, our core consumer across social platforms would be a woman, probably between 25 and 49.

 

[00:18:54.17] David:  Got you. I always ask people this question, but what do you think currently the undervalued attention is in the digital space?

 

[00:19:01.37] Ken:  Undervalued attention?

 

[00:19:04.20] David:  Yeah, just a place you think not enough marketers or brands are spending enough time on, that you think is getting the better engagement, better eyeballs, things like that.

 

[00:19:14.04] Ken:  Quite obviously I think right now we're in a little bit of saturation, I think everyone is just trying ... is start trying to figure out the algorithms, which turned out to be the largest problem because it causes for a constant need to reinvent a strategy that quite honestly may have been completely successful, like Gangbusters for a quarter, then an algorithm shifts, you come in the next day and all your numbers are down 50%, right? That I think is something quite honestly for me having been in the space for so long something really new.

 

[00:19:45.33] David:  Well, especially since you came from the startup game it's almost like creating a beautiful piece of software that's going to solve everybody's problems, and you come in one day and, hey, you can't use half of that code anymore. And just like, okay, let's go back from scratch.

 

[00:19:57.40] Ken:  That's exactly what it's like.

 

[00:19:59.57] David:  And I think most recently it's like, hey, guys, IGTV's now a thing, all right, so I guess we got a whiteboard this out and see how we're going to attack it in the next six months, which I wanted to ask your opinion on that with all your original series on digital you guys are performing that you talked about like rate the bars, things like that, are you guys playing in the IGTV space? And what's your opinion on it, kind of in the early stages?

 

[00:20:20.14] Ken:  So I mean, we've definitely had our eye on IGTV, we put our first toe in there on the BET Awards this year, we put all of our performances there as well. We've been watching it quite honestly, we've been watching it. For us we're looking at the value of having to crop everything from 16 by 9 to 9 by 16, also keeping the eye on other partners and competitors who are just putting messages in the beginning of their videos that say, "Tilt your phone," so that you can just watch this in a 16 by 9. Because I think ultimately everyone needs to question the ROI, right? So there's some things that you can do automatically, just run it to your program, it'll crop it all, it'll follow the people whether you're using a wild [unclear]

 

[00:21:01.36] David:  You're going to make your consumer rotate their device 90 degrees, how dare you? That's too much to ask.

 

[00:21:06.42] Ken:  Exactly, right?

 

[00:21:09.44] David:  That's a good point, but like even like you said just to go from 16 by 9 to 9 to 16 that can cause hours and hours and hours of production time, and you guys only have so much time in the day, so how do you make those calls type deal?

 

[00:21:22.37] Ken:  For us it's the ROI, right? So we put our biggest show of the year on there on the BET Awards, and I think ultimately you need to look at those views. We put some other things on there, I personally haven't seen the traction yet, but we're experimenting.

 

[00:21:35.42] David:  Yeah, I think it's still ... What we've seen too it's just we're such in the early stages, it's not really that user-friendly yet we've talked about a lot. So it's kind of like a wait and see and maybe V2 of IGTV will be the one that starts to take off. So other than revenue how do you measure success on your digital platforms? What are you guys looking at on a weekly or monthly basis and make sure you're hitting?

 

[00:21:58.05] Ken:  For us video views and overall engagement, time spent as well. So the video views are a little bit misleading when looking at how many of the platforms actually quantify it. So while that metric is important for us as creators, it's really the watch time too right now, because they need to know if you were genuinely interested in this, and that would give me much more insight into my next episode or my next franchise.

 

[00:22:23.33] David:  And I feel like when I scroll on Instagram I just happen to watch it for three seconds just by scrolling, so the three second metric to your point is kind of a tough stat to follow. I like it. So BET as a network, I mean, it launched in 1980 and it's really gone through different transitions over the last ... what is it now? 36 years or 38 years. As we say you're in 2018 what is the overall message you think the network is trying to portray and kind of get across to the end consumer?

 

[00:22:50.35] Ken:  Well, I think it's one that we still got you, like that used to be our tagline. But we're a business that was born out of a need in the marketplace, and we're at a time right now where you're seeing more and more black faces across the proliferation of screens, right? However, that still means or that doesn't negate the need for a brand like BET, and we're available to our consumers on all platforms as well. We are a cable network but we aren't only on cable, and that's what you're seeing with our digital original, social, and just overall digital publishing strategy as well.

 

[00:23:26.49] David:  I asked this a lot to people that work in TV and I'm sure you're familiar with the pro max PDA conference that happens in New York kind on a yearly basis, but that was a huge conversation at the conference this year was the transition from if revenue range are going to decline and there's going to be more money taking away from that as far as your biggest revenue generator, can you supplement that with the digital and how is that going to happen over the next few years with OTT and things like that? So are those conversations internally you guys are constantly having as linear kind of transitions over to OTT and digital?

 

[00:23:59.32] Ken:  Yes, yes, totally, totally. I mean, also the new revenue streams and that our linear programs are finding new life and opportunities on other platforms, right? Real husbands of Hollywood, being Mary Jane, some of the top programs within Netflix, but also I actually came to BET five years ago to really help kick off the ... well, six years ago, the BET experience, right? Experiential, huge probably the business in terms of expansion. Also I think in this world where you can touch everything digitally, there's an increased or renewed need to make a physical connection, and that's also I think reinvigorated the festival space which is near and dear to me because it links with my digital passions and desires to really combine what we're doing on the technology end of things with real world physical strategic planning as well.

 

[00:24:51.23] David:  Do you think that's what's going to separate some cable channels that are eventually just going to go bankrupt and go away, and the ones that are going to stay and continue and grow and thrive, is that part of it? Like, the experimental, the technology, like is that the kind of big thing that you think all networks should focused on?

 

[00:25:08.17] Ken:  I think that will be the path to success and survival for some, right? I don't think every brand is really the one that's got the power and connection to have people come out of their homes, and want to connect with them. But BET is a unique one in that way, and we've already taken the experience from LA to South Africa as just a test case scenario, and are entertaining other ideas as well. So I definitely do think there's truth to that.

 

[00:25:34.07] David:  That's awesome. All right, so what are some new and innovative ways that you guys have tried out this year? It's already November by the way, I don't know if you realize that today, but Christmas is around the corner, so we almost have the whole 2018 on the wraps, man. So those year-end reports are coming probably. Anything that stick out to you when we talk about 2018 at BET that was really successful or innovating or kind of something you were proud of?

 

[00:25:58.54] Ken:  Got it, a bunch of different things. So this year in particular at the BET Awards for the Insta booth execution, we did something that was completely different and we transformed the 20 by 20 space into a bodega. And every product on the shelf either ... It was an internet slang saying or it referenced one of our legacy IP properties, whether it be your 106 or your rap city, or what have you. Everyone had the chance to come in and actually engage with it. And we had an influencer in the means to hype behind the counter in one of his famous internet characters acting as cashier as well, and that recently won the platinum award at the [unclear] Awards for best YouTube and best social video campaign.

 

[00:26:45.58] David:  Nice.

 

[00:26:46.28] Ken:  So that was a cool one. And another one that we did at the top of the year, so our fiscal is in October so my head is somewhat divided, but so we have a social awards in March of 2018 which is our second live show with the BET Awards traditionally being our only one in a much larger show as well. But that was early on 2018, if you recall live video was really the thing across every platform. So we wanted to figure out how could we experiment and incorporate it into the social awards in a way that quite honestly we just knew they wouldn't let us in the BET Awards.

 

[00:27:23.15] David:  Well, to your point about the algorithm earlier, that was when Facebook and some people cranking that puppy up, so you had to take advantage of it.

 

[00:27:29.30] Ken:  Exactly. So literally within the show we had the David, Michael Blackson, throw to a table that we had on stage with social influencers from around the world that was moderated by King Quran, and it had a 360 camera embedded ... drilled into a whole, custom-made, in the middle of the table. So at each commercial break you could log on to this, and the influencers would be talking about what just happened and they ultimately even gave out the award for best podcast to Joe Budden and his team there.

 

[00:28:02.29] David:  Very cool, that's awesome. This is so random, but can we talk about Will Smith and what he's been able to do on social? I mean, his engagement rate is ... I even looked that up recently is through the roof obviously. But I think he started last year, and he's completely ... he's like on The Rock and Kevin Hart's level already like in the last 12 months. I mean, what are your thoughts on what he's done to kind of reintroduce himself to the younger audience?

 

[00:28:27.44] Ken:  I mean, I think he really just confirms a long-held suspicion by most, and that social media is really just about access, right? So before you even had the opportunity to reach out to Will Smith, you knew who he was. You've been waiting for Will Smith to get on social so you could add him in some way, shape, or form. I mean, when he gets on there and he actually does provide you this access, it looks like the world of his fans have been waiting for this. And instantly he jumps over stars ... like The Rock, but Kevin Hart was kind of burst on social, right? So stars like that, I think a Will Smith is going to get passed quickly, but again, he's really just proving that people are looking to use these platforms to really decrease the distance between them and the people they've admired and not being able to engage with.

 

[00:29:18.04] David:  Yeah, and I think what was interesting about The Rock and Kevin Hart specifically, like all their movie deals started to have separate contracts about if you want to use my social media following to pump this movie out, that's kind of a different distribution contract we need to sign. It seems like Will Smith and these other actors understand that - if I want to get the influence it's best to have my own fan base I can speak to whenever I want.

 

[00:29:40.39] Ken:  Yeah, I mean, I'm actually watching it closely because of that, because ... I mean, Will Smith is a different type of celebrity than your Kevin Hart and your Rock. He's got a different type of cache, right? So I think what he's doing is really going to continue to evolve the social business. And as someone who ... I mean, heck, Will wasn't winning that 4th of July weekend as he had been for the last two, three years.

 

[00:30:05.43] David:  Yeah, that's a great point.

 

[00:30:07.04] Ken:  But all of a sudden no one can talk about anything except for Will Smith, right? So it's very interesting to me how he's pushing the needle.

 

[00:30:15.53] David:  Yeah, like before it was if you're in that blockbuster Independence Day type of movie you're going to be known around the world. Now if you're not on social you may be missed or you may not know ... The new generation may not know about what Will Smith is all about, so I think it also taps into that nostalgia thing you talked about earlier like everybody growing up watching Fresh Prince of Bel-air, there's this affinity so when they see him come back again dancing, whatever, just brings back good memories from high school or whatever.

 

So how do you see social changing? I hate to ... it's always tough to predict the future obviously. But in the next three to five years like if you had to put together kind of go back to your entrepreneur days, kind of that projection plan, where do you kind of see this all going and where are we headed?

 

[00:31:00.59] Ken:  It's interesting, it's interesting, man. I think we're going to continue to see more engagement, more engagement. I don't even think we've begun to scratch the surface yet, but it's something that is kind of impressed upon me everyday being within a network. Because at the end of the day video is video is video, what really separates the video that is created by our linear partners from what we can do on my team with video, and the only thing is engagement. The TV at this point still remains a one-way device. We sit there, we look at it, we receive. On any of the social platforms at this point we can actually have some engagement.

 

And I think you're starting to see the tip of that iceberg in the radio space, right? It's like, oh, you want to request a song? Do it on the gram, what have you there. I think that will begin to get more integrated into TV programming. And you're already seeing it also with things like HQ, right? I think the game show, rather, I think that's just the beginning of what's going to be the norm.

 

[00:32:05.24] David:  Yeah, I've always said what's interesting by HQ trivia is it's found a way to bring back around a point of view television, because you have to be at a certain place at a certain time and engaged, and you can't wait for it, or a DVR type deals, so I think that's kind of the future as well, I totally agree there.

 

All right, so I know it's a Friday so we're going to get you out of here pretty quick, but I have some rapid fire questions for you to kind of end it off. What is the one social or marketing tool that you cannot live without?

 

[00:32:31.05] Ken:  So when you say social marketing tool, does that also include hardware?

 

[00:32:36.09] David:  Potentially, I mean, Crowd Tangle gets mentioned a lot on this show, but ...

 

[00:32:41.19] Ken:  Okay, got it.

 

[00:32:43.19] David:  Something you guys use a lot internally.

 

[00:32:45.36] Ken:  Yeah, I'd say Sprinkler and Tubular.

 

[00:32:49.52] David:  Awesome. From a business perspective what social platform seems to be working the best for BET right now?

 

[00:32:57.03] Ken:  YouTube.

 

[00:32:59.53] David:  Ranking in order - Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, in order of importance for BET social strategy.

 

[00:33:06.09] Ken:  Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat.

 

[00:33:15.25] David:  What are you doing right now on Snapchat? I think that's super interesting kind of how they took over for a while there, and now I feel like a lot of brands are just starting to put less and less resources behind that.

 

[00:33:26.28] Ken:  Yeah, I mean, at the end of the day if you're not going to share the metrics with me I don't really have an ROI case of why I should continue to invest. I mean, that's just the business thing in all honesty regardless of how "cool" it is, right? Because we do Snapchat live stories for all of our big shows, that's a no-brainer, we're definitely going to do those, and we also have shows on Snapchat right now.

 

[00:33:51.26] David:  Are those metrics shared with you by the partner?

 

[00:33:54.17] Ken:  Yes, but that's a bit different than the other level of investment that you could put into the platform. So they totally give us that, our stuff is performing like gangbusters there, so we will continue to bring programming there. But that more so feeds into our DNA, like we're a network, we create and distribute programming, that's what we do, but there are so many other things that you could do on that platform, and Instagram is taking a lot of it right now.

 

[00:34:22.21] David:  Yes, until the algorithm changes. In our industry I think I always ask this question but FOMO is a major thing, so what are the things that you recommend kind of for all social media marketers to stay on top of or to follow or to read, to make sure you kind of stay on top of the ever-changing environment?

 

[00:34:40.49] Ken:  All right, so that's a hard one for me because I know I read everything, I read everything that's out there.

 

[00:34:50.43] David:  Does Twitter become like your RSS feed or LinkedIn, just all of them.

 

[00:34:54.09] Ken:  Yeah, so I mean, definitely on LinkedIn just a certain amount of people who I follow. On Twitter I've got groups set up with all of my peers and other reporters in the space, so I'll check those groups in the morning to really see what they're talking about, to see if something for whatever reason isn't in my inbox, or even just to see where they are, right? Like are you at the Apple event, are you at CBS, are you at Comic Con, and if you are, what are you checking out? Should I be checking that out as well?

 

[00:35:26.12] David:  Always curious, I love that. What inspires you, and how do you stay on the cutting edge? What gets you up in the morning and makes you excited?

 

[00:35:33.32] Ken:  Possibility, possibility. Really before the internet was kind of what it was I always thought what the world would be like if everyone had the opportunity to speak to one another, because when you look at just how the world was constructed from a historical standpoint, how dynasties are able to be preserved or they are actually taken down, much of it had to do with communications and new perspectives from different places.

 

But even also just being in America, someone from the Northeast having family that lives in the South, understanding how their style changed once they had cable TV. And then seeing how it ... There was really no difference at all between our style, slang, and just overall social activities once they had the internet.

 

[00:36:22.04] David:  All right, and the last question for you, any advice, a lot of people in the social media marketing world that listen to the show that would love to be in a position, like you VP of digital video, very cool position. Any advice on anybody trying to strive to get there.

 

[00:36:39.09] Ken:  You've got to practice excellence quite honestly, never think you're working too hard, because it actually does take a lot of hard work. But it should be work that you love. And be respectful, you never know will be who along the way. This is a business that is built on relationship. I know you might hear a title like VP and think it's some story thing, we're still talking about a space that hasn't even been here for 50 years yet, right? We are still very early on in the progression of this space, and what was just gospel yesterday might be blasphemous tomorrow, right? So I think ...

 

[00:37:17.22] David:  Can I use that quote? I want to have a shirt that says that, I love that.

 

[00:37:21.10] Ken:  But being respectful to everyone kind of allows you that freedom to be wrong because you will be wrong.

 

[00:37:29.11] David:  Yeah, you will be wrong, I like that too. All right, so I also asked everybody at the end of the podcast this question - if you could recommend anybody in your network that you can nominate to be the next guests on this show, who do you think would be a good person to meet and talk to?

 

[00:37:44.19] Ken:  I mean, you kind of started off the conversation with her, but I would say Tatyana Holyfield, right? So Tatyana is definitely on my team, I think she's got a unique perspective from the shy.

 

[00:37:56.04] David:  She's a very, very nice human being.

 

[00:37:58.35] Ken:  Indeed. I mean, we play good come back.

 

[00:38:02.50] David:  She subscribes to your theory, be a nice person.

 

[00:38:03.53] Ken:  Yeah, I mean, heck, it's a tough business, don't let it weigh you down, but also I think she brought incredible value to the team as well.

 

[00:38:13.34] David:  I love it. Well, I'm willing to put a wager, because the Celtics have 17 world championships, the Lakers have 16, I grew up in LA. I think we're going to get another one before you guys do with LeBron.

 

[00:38:25.46] Ken:  Yeah, I'm not ... All I can say is that I'm happy about the World Series, and if that was to happen this year at least I've got the World Series.

 

[00:38:35.37] David:  But the Celtics, man, Jason Tatum and Jalen Brown and Kyrie, I mean, you got a squad.

 

[00:38:41.00] Ken:  We do, we do, but we were also taking bets as to where LeBron would go, if he would go to LA or if we would go to the Celtics. I thought if LeBron really wanted to make a mark, he we go to the Celtics because from I think a monetary standpoint the Celtics is on the market that could really afford him, however it is one that's more flexible and has a historical legacy to allow him something that no other would afford, and possibly give him that player coach position that was once held ...

 

[00:39:10.54] David:  By Russell.

 

[00:39:11.27] Ken:  Exactly, exactly, so I mean, I was wishful thinking. He did what I don't think was very heavy lift by going to the Lakers, but we'll see, we'll see. If the Celtics win, we'll have this conversation again.

 

[00:39:24.23] David:  I think they're going to go to the finals this year, I'll say that. They'll have a tough time with Toronto. But I do think at the end of the day LeBron wanted to learn from Magic, probably one of the number one athlete ever to transition to the business world and then be in LA with all the movie opportunities and stuff. I get it. I get it from a post basketball decision.

 

[00:39:41.41] Ken:  Yeah, no, I mean, which I think also means that he doesn't have very much time left, right? Like, he's thinking about leaving.

 

[00:39:47.35] David:  You're killing all my hopes, man. No, but Ken, it was a pleasure talking to you, man. Very much appreciated. I'll be up in actually New York a couple times in the next few months, we'll have to meet up and get a coffee or drink, man.

 

[00:39:59.22] Ken:  Perfect.

 

[00:40:01.01] David:  Cool. Thanks so much, man.

 

[00:40:02.32] Ken:  Thank you.

 

[00:40:02.29] David:  I appreciate it. Talk to you soon.

 

[00:40:02.59] Ken:  All right, bye-bye.

 

[00:40:09.00] David:  All right, there you have it. That was a good one, fellas. We had some really good quotes from Ken there. I like his thought on IGTV, it's still early as we've been saying all along the last couple episodes on this show, but also kind of always determine the ROI, like if I'm going to ... all the way down granular, right? Like, if I'm going to cut all this footage down to from 16 by 9 to 9 to 16, how many hours is that going to take and based on engagement is that kind of worth my time? So I think all of us in the social media world are always doing those calculations, kind of the risk/reward as we all have limited staffs and only so much time in the day.

 

I also love about Snapchat, he ranked Snapchat dead last which I think a lot of people listening and a lot of people we've interviewed probably would do the same. If you're not going to share your metrics with me, it's tough for me to invest. And I really agree with that as well, so making those platforms more user friendly for the marketers out there will probably going to give Snapchat a little bit more success.

 

And I think my favorite quote of the show was something along the lines of what was gospel yesterday could be blasphemous tomorrow. I love that, man. So true, especially in this ever-changing landscape we always try to keep you guys up to speed on. No statement could be truer, but damn, learned a lot of information from Ken on this episode. He definitely dropped some great knowledge, and I'm looking forward to talk with him more to kind of geek out over the space, man. So business of social podcast, as always powered by STN Digital. I want to thank Auntie Lightning; I want to thank Sam Howard, David Frerker, Will Kelly for all their help to produce the show. Once again, business of social powered by STN Digital.