Week 3 Guest Speaker Roundup by Kate Clarkson

A Conversation with Matt Meeks of Initiative and Dan Portnoy of Portnoy Media Group

By UCLA X425 Student Kate Clarkson

On the evening April 17th we were lucky enough to have two amazing, energetic and diverse guest speakers in UCLA x425. Each spoke about clients ranging from global phenomenon Cristiano Ronoldo to local community resource United Way Los Angeles.

Matt Meeks, VP / Account Director at Initiative, spoke to us about the success he achieved creating footballer Cristiano Ronaldo’s official YouTube channel with the goal of gaining followers and eventually getting sponsors. Of course, the first challenge was to create the content, given that Cristiano was busy in South Africa for Portugal’s World Cup game. The solution? Send him a flip cam that he could use to make spur-of-the-moment videos of himself speaking directly to his fans. The result? Millions of views and followers.

Matt also discussed the benefits and challenges of Facebook’s new policies regarding the timeline and how brand page messages appear. Brands with 500,000 fans or more can get the benefit of a new product called the “reach generator,” which enables their posts to hit 100% of fans’ newsfeeds over the course of a month.

Matt then explained how the “organic” reach of Facebook brand page posts will unfortunately drop to about 2% (from 16%) once the new initiatives fall into place. This causes a problem, especially for small brands, that have fewer fans on Facebook. While Facebook promises to mitigate the affects of its new policy on non-profits and small businesses, it is time for us to start thinking of new ways to engage more people and become more visible to current fans — perhaps by partnering with larger, non-competitive brands and communicating with fans directly.

Dan Portnoy, Head Honcho at Portnoy Media Group, brought his expertise in non-profit consulting and reminded us that social media is basically a very advanced form of sitting at the pub with friends — the original venue for word-of-mouth marketing. He emphasized that the content you create needs to be awesome in order to gain traction and “go viral.” Thinking about this now, I agree that the only way I would listen to a stranger talk in a pub, and then share his story with my friends, would be if what he had to say was truly amazing or hilarious.

Dan explained that for United Way Los Angeles, he is trying to communicate the stories of the people that benefit from the organization. For example, he instituted a “picture of the day” feature that includes portraits of people who use the services of the United Way. The reasoning behind this is that it will create a personal connection with the site’s visitors, and in-turn encourage them to interact with the brand.

With social media, Dan says that he looks at engagement with the brand on any given platform rather that dwelling just on likes, shares or retweets. In today’s media environment, it takes exciting new ideas, different approaches and understanding your target market, to get the most engagement out of your audience.

Overall, both speakers stressed the need to create exciting content to keep your audience engaged, and both gave me some great ideas for campaigns going forward!

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