Photo Credit: The Recording Academy
Big brands have often missed the mark entirely when it comes to leveraging the real benefits of social media. Despite having all the resources at their disposal, they may still resort to the traditional marketing approach of broadcasting what they have for their audience to listen to rather than creating a conversation and engaging with customers and prospects as well as listening to what they have to say. Later, when they see their audience dwindling, these big brands wonder why they are no longer the fan favorites.
However, those that do take the award for best social media strategy by a big brand are those that understand how to use social media in a way that brings them closer to their audience and creates an intimate setting no matter how large an operation. Of note is The Recording Academy, which is the brand behind the Grammys, Grammy Museum, and MusiCares, the arm of the Recording Academy that provides a safety net of critical assistance for music people in times of need.
This brand illustrates how you can hit all the right notes with social media, building your brand, your following, and your insights to create even better experiences for your audience.
When asked how The Recording Academy uses social media, Neda Azarfar, Vice President, Marketing Communications at The Recording Academy, explains, “We view social media communications as communications at its best: an interactive multi-path dialogue built on mutual understanding, respect, and trust. It’s cross-talk, it’s loud, it’s evolving, and mutually informing.”
The Recording Academy sees this philosophy as the foundation of its social strategy. They believe it’s about talking to people in their community as they are talking to one another. The focus is on engagement and resonance as well as success metrics, evaluation, and adjustments, as necessary.
Different Tones and Talents
The Recording Academy also found that it helped to tailor their tactics to each social media platform they used. As Azarfar notes, “Instagram has been a very powerful avenue for us to tell visual stories, so we’ve built up our image base and applied a curatorial lens to what we share.” The result has been off the charts with a 150% increase in followers across all Recording Academy social media accounts.
Beyond looking at what’s currently working for their audience, The Recording Academy also considers where the big platforms are heading to make sure that the strategies they develop today are aligned with where things are going to be in the future. That’s what led them to focus heavily on Facebook’s live video medium to enrich their storytelling. During the Grammy season, they worked with Facebook to host nominee reactions via Facebook Live pop-ups in New York and Los Angeles.
Similarly, Snapchat has shown them that even big brands can use social media to experiment, learn, adapt, and have fun with what they are trying to do on these platforms. Azarfar remarks, “We recently launched a four-part Snapchat series with influencer Jack Baran, garnering more than 1.5 million views with a 75% completion rate, which is well above industry average. Of course, Twitter will always be important for sharing breaking news and engaging audiences in real time. We leverage Twitter during live events and major announcements.”
A Lyrical Approach To Goals And Metrics
The Recording Academy has also become a standout on the social media charts because of taking a different approach than most brands. This is because they share the breadth of the Recording Academy story across a number of brand accounts and channels. They weave key points into each channel to build a broader community of people who get what the Academy is all about and want to support and give back to music.
In terms of metrics, Azarfar explains that if they are holding an auction to benefit MusiCares, then they may look at something as low-funnel as donations. Or, if they are discussing their positions on music legislation, then they would look at upper- and mid-funnel metrics like reach and engagement. “Most of the metrics people tend to use when talking about social media are backward-looking, analyzing performance based on things like clickthroughs and comments. However, it’s more helpful to do the analysis on the front-end. We spend a good amount of time on building and refining audience profiles to understand what the sub-sections of our community care about.”
Live Streaming Gets The Recording Academy’s Vote For Best Social Media Tool
The Recording Academy and CBS has provided a livestream experience called Grammy Live that has evolved over the past several years to bring fans exclusive content form music’s biggest night. This content has included red carpet coverage, the Grammy Premiere ceremony, multiple camera angles, backstage access, and a wrap-up show.
Azarfar noted that they wanted to change it up this year. “When we were talking with our longstanding partner, Billboard, about ways to expand their Grammy coverage, we came up with the idea of extending their red carpet footprint into the Grammy Museum. This would provide a complimentary experience to viewers who’d get a bigger piece of The Recording Academy narrative—one that includes not just the Grammy Awards, but it would also feature the preservation, curatorial, and philanthropic works of the Grammy Museum.”
They also used live streaming to make other events more dynamic and engaging for their social media fans. Prior to this year, the general public couldn’t get a peek into MusiCares’ Annual Person of the Year gala unless they actually attended it. This year, they offered fans a first-ever opportunity to join in on the red carpet through a Facebook Livestream hosted by Natalie Rotman on the MusiCares Facebook page. This enabled fans to enjoy special behind-the-scenes moments through an exclusive Instagram photo gallery, featuring performing artists who were shot beautifully by renowned photographer Randee St Nicholas.
The way social media has been used so effectively by The Recording Academy did not just happen over night. Instead, it’s been a process of learning, testing, and measuring like any brand will need to do. As Azarfar states, “Previously, the MusiCares Facebook page wasn’t even outfitted with the proper non-profit bells and whistles. Last summer, we worked with our partners at Facebook to update the page to enable our audiences to donate to our health and human services charity seamlessly through the MusiCares Facebook page. It’s those tactical things that can be the small stones that help pave the way toward a greater strategic path.”
It’s also taken them time to conduct full-scale research to get an understanding of their entire audience ecosystem and then compose and deliver a holistic social marketing strategy to speak to those people where they are. A big part of the strategy has been cross-pollination, which has involved introducing people who might be familiar with one thing they do to another thing they do based on potential interest and relevance. Armed with this strategy in hand, and with a few of those tactical fixes underway, they’ve been working closely with Facebook over the past year on ways to amplify their messages outside of the award show.
The lesson here for all brands related to social media is that perfect pitch comes from hard work and practice as well as bringing a number of methods, mediums, and messages together. In return, your brand can top the charts and take home the award for best social media benchmark for everyone else to follow.
This article originally appeared on Forbes.