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Webinar Transcript - USA TODAY: More Than Just the News. A Social Media Case Study

USA TODAY: More Than Just the News. A Social Media Case Study.

(0:00:01.2) Mike Lewis, VP of Marketing at Awareness (ML): I'd like to welcome everybody to today’s session. We are very excited to have Brian with us for this session. It's titled: "USAToday, more than just the news, a social media marketing case study" and we are really lucky to have Brian Dresher on the line with us. What is kind of interesting is that you know you have made it big when your company's webinars are featured on the cover of USAToday. This is actually from a recent publication that features Brian participating in today’s webinar. Needless to say, we are really excited that Brian is able to join us. So Brian can you hear me okay?

(0:00:30.1) Brian Dresher, Manager, Social Media and Digital Partnerships, USA Today (BD): Absolutely.

(0:00:32.2) ML: So before I introduce Brian I just want to quickly go through some of the logistical stuff for everybody on the line. First of all, we are happy to answer any questions that you may have. The first way to speak with us is on Twitter using the hashtag #awarenessinc. We will be monitoring everything during the session and we will come back at the end and answer any questions that you have. You can also feel free to use Twitter to converse with everybody else and share comments and feedback and that kind of stuff. Also, if you have any technical issues contact WebEx for support and to do that there are two ways. You can either check out the Q&A; button in the bottom right hand corner of the WebEx client. We have a WebEx producer online with us today who will be monitoring any issues and can handle any technical issues that you have. You can also go to that help button in upper navigation in the far right hand side and client the button marked "help". So to anybody who is new to the #awarenessinc webinars, I want to give you some background on who we are and what we have been up to.

(0:01:38.3) ML: Awareness recently announced a brand new product called the Social Marketing Hub. USA Today is one of our early experience customers who is using the Hub and providing feedback on development, positioning and functionality and we are very excited to have them on board. I'd like to begin by giving you a sense of our history. Many of you probably know Awareness as a white-label community platform.

(0:01:49.9) ML: What that means is as large brands build out social media marketing programs, they come to us and we help them build their own branded communities - or a place online for their customers or partners to collaborate, share comments and ideas, or a destinations for marketing campaigns. Earlier last year we launched what we refer to as Best Practice Communities - 7 pre-packaged communities based on use-cases. These contained best practice functionality for the specific use case and are delivered & deployed rapidly.

(0:02:21.3) ML: Historically, that is the product we went to market with. We have deployed over 200 communities for some of the largest, most well known brands in the world and you can see the logos down the bottom there and I won't go into each one. We worked with many marketing agencies to help their customers as well. Recently, we introduced the Awareness Social Marketing Hub. It is a SaaS based social media marketing software solution that helps enterprises publish, manage, and measure all aspects of their social media marketing programs across multiple channels. When we looked at the market we found out that a lot of organizations were kind of at the left hand side of this curve. They were managing activities across multiple social media channels - Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, corporate blogs, YouTube and some other channels - but hadn’t really moved down the further part of the value chain. It became clear that our customers, and prospects, needed a way that helped their enterprise manage all their social media channels in one place. Take the example of one of our customers. They are a project manager at a large organization and are planning a new product launch. As part of the launch they have several videos and assets that they want to distribute as part of their marketing programs. Initially, that video can get published to the channels we control - Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and our corporate blog. Many of you on the call are from large enterprises and understand that this is where the control stops. To get the same message and assets out to channels outside of our control what you end up doing is sending emails across the organization to people who own other Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, communities, etc, with instructions on messaging, deployment dates, etc. to upload in their channel. Additionally, we asked them to send us results as they come in. It turns into a game of 'Telephone' but on an enterprise scale. Messaging gets changed, reporting is difficult or impossible to retrieve, drops dates are ignored or forgotten - it's a major headache. They are not really able to control any part of the messaging or the product launch the way you normally would and getting a report back is very difficult. That is why we created the Social Marketing Hub. Using the Hub, enterprises upload assets and copy in one place, it gets sent out across the social web, and you can actually report on it in one centralized location. It gives enterprise marketers the power to publish, manage, and measure as well as the ability to gain control over your marketing initiatives, centralize all your programs so it is no longer departmentalized and really lets the company evolve from being tactical about social media initiatives to very strategic about how they go about running their social media campaigns.

(0:05:07.9) ML: This is the Awareness Social Marketing Hub. If you would like to see some action, give me a call or drop me a note or DM me on Twitter, I will be happy to spare some time to go through a demo with you if you would like to get a deeper dive on how it can help you and your organization. With that said, I promise that is the last sales pitch that we are going to give you today - the rest is about learning. I am going to turn it over to Brian Dresher, and what is interesting is that I actually met Brian a few months back at a Social Fresh conference - that's #sofresh for those that have been - in Tampa.

(0:05:41.0) ML: I attended Brian’s session and was listening to him talk about all the things that USA Today are doing for social media. To be honest, I had not heard the stories before that and I was just amazed because it was so progressive not only for the publishing space but then for social media in general. I was really impressed and made the point to introduce myself and invited him to participate in one of our webinars. Long story short, after couple of months of planning we are finally here today. So Brian, I am just absolutely psyched that you are online and everybody can learn from what you are doing. Welcome!

(0:06:12.3) BD: It is fantastic. Mike, thank you so much for the kind introduction and also thank you Christine and all the other Awareness folks for allowing us the opportunity to tell our story here. We definitely feel that we have done some really neat things within the social media space and thanks everyone for listening.

(0:06:56.7) BD: So the first thing I think we should outline our history in social media. Social Media has been the buzzword over the course of the last year but our efforts in social media at USA Today really go back three years this month when we were the first mainstream publication to pioneer the concept called 'Networked Journalism' and this concept was transforming a publisher from publishing content from us to our audience to our audience communicating back to us and with each other. There are a number of features that we launched that you can see sitting up here right now are in many ways extraordinarily interactive and were all launched around the time of April 2007. Everything from allowing commenting on every kind of feature on our site, being able to interact with our bloggers, align with guest blog posts by some of our community members, audience being able to create their own profile pages, and able to submit favorite photos or checking out to get in direct contact and we really were the first ones to have pioneered this effort.

(0:07:38.1) BD: Social Media has really been a part of our DNA. We since expanded that to include new communities on USAtoday.com to include 30+ new communities that cover a wide variety of niche areas and allow USA Today to focus the headlines from around the world to sub groups. These communities also represent micro-level interests of our audience and we enable these USAToday.com micro-communities to form organically. Here is an example of our cruise community.

(0:08:06.5) BD: As you can see, we have forums, topics, and other areas in which those interested in specific topics can dive much deeper. As you can see now are just the views of the communities that we have ranging from fantasy, sports, to hip-hop culture. So where is the USAtoday.com community? For me, what has been really neat about the evolution of social media has been really looking at it the way we look at our audeince. I think this is new, not just for the 'old' news sites in general but historically we try to engage the USA Today audience on Facebook and Twitter. To look at these as distinct audiences really isn't true. We view them as the same audience who like to play in different playgrounds at different times of day.

(0:08:50.8) BD: Different audiences that are no longer true and the picture looks a lot more like this. It is not to say that these different audiences but it is really the same audience but it just happens to be in a different playground at certain time of day.

(0:09:11.8) BD: Once we look to embrace and recognize that has users spend a portion of their day on social networks we realize that if they are going to be away from USAtoday.com then we need to be away from USAtoday.com as well. And that means we need to know how to participate in Facebook and Twitter so we are part of the communities and hopefully can stay top of mind when our audience decides to leave the social networks and go to a news site. One thing that we also encouraged and this was part of our ah-ha moment, is what we call the 'macro-to-micro transformation' as a result of social networking. The way that it occurred is first taking a step back and looking at our business before social networks. We have journalists that publish content and that appears on USAtoday.com and our print edition and we make that available to our audience. But the model shifted or evolved as a result of looking at a platform like Twitter that allows journalists to connect directly with the audience. So what you see now is journalists connecting with audience who then engages USA Today because when they pick up a story from a journalist on Twitter, it is formerly known as micro-blogging but it is also about micro-level interests.

(0:10:36.5) BD: So USA Today really can be everything to everyone at the grand level. When we have individual journalists covering a specific piece, they are able to engage communities on Twitter in a much more effective way than perhaps only the main 'USA Today publication' would be able to do. This transformation is just the way our news brand has been viewed and exposed on Twitter. Also, another example of breaking news.

(0:11:20.2) BD: I don’t know about you but for me, when I think about "breaking news" I think something of the plane landing on the Hudson or situation unfolding in Haiti and that is breaking news at a macro-level because it is something that resonates or appeals to a large audience. However, as a result of something like Twitter there is also breaking news at a micro-level and this for me another what I call an ah-ha moment. About a year ago when our cruise journalist said “breaking news carnival pronounced new itinerary in the Caribbean” and I thought "how is that breaking news" but for his community of cruise enthusiasts on twitter it was breaking ne,ws just like this webinar for most of us is breaking news because it is something that touches us in a way in our micro community within 'social media marketing'. So this has created new opportunities for our journalists to be able to grow their personal brand while at the same time help in growing the USA Today brand. I just want to highlight a few examples on how we are using Twitter and these are actual tweets that happened and were published by our staff to meet up for opportunities, for engagement, for story leads, for our customer service and of course this is a small sample from an exhaustive list and what I would like to say is making the analogy…twitter is kind of like a DVD.

(0:12:22.3) BD: This looks like a DVD. Well except for the main features on it like a movie but it is also loaded with all these extras like behind the scenes features, sneak previews, alternative ending, and deleted scenes. Well that is the way we think about Twitter. It is not replacing by any means our main content or our main feature (i.e. the USAToday site) but it is a way of extending the experience to another platform for a specific audience. So getting our staff on Twitter was a little bit of a processor evolution that has been forced in many other organizations. So I am going to share with you some of the steps that we took in order to get our staff on board. We have about 100 Twitter feeds which are managed by individual journalists. So first it truly was starting small but a year and a half ago it was me going to one department that shared our travel group and saying "who would like to try this twitter thing out". Fortunately I had a couple of folks who agreed to do so and I figured that I cannot sell it to the entire organization at once so let’s start small and build it from there. From there we enjoyed some success that obtained high level engagement and traffic and instead of just going one by one at that point, we started to sell these success stories and sharing that organization wise.

(0:13:57.5) BD: When that started to happen it went from having some participation from specific journalists to overall staff engagement.

(0:14:14.6) BD: Equally important especially for news organization is finding roles for the members of our organization and identifying who really owns participation within social networks. We view social media as a marketing tool, but others asked, "is it editorial?", "is it design?", "is it corporate communications?" and the answer is, it is a combination of all of these things and it has a lot of stakeholders. So our social media programs needed to be built around who owns what, how they do it, when they do it, and where do they go for help and really help focus and not have filers that can often be created around other areas. Our internal education plan has consisted of wide twitter training which we did start in 2009 to make sure staff gets informed about how to use twitter progressively and effectively as well as sending out weekly twitter sheets which includes case studies, what our competitors are up to, news sites, new applications, new ideas and feedback and just constantly remind staff about twitter instead of making one time training that just kind of goes to the shelf collects dust. Then finally preparing our monthly report which showcases not which is not a type of social media programs but actually demonstrates and ROIII. You heard that right, "ROIII" which is return on interaction, influence, and investment because on twitter so much of it is about engagement that results in a higher level of interaction and influence of our journalists which then results in higher traditional ROI returns on the back end.

(0:15:49.7) BD: All of that turns the skeptical into believers that are enthusiastic about the promise of social media marketing. Here is a picture of the Canadian flag and a big shout out to our Canadian friends over at Awareness (Dave Carter, Robin Hopper and the team up in Toronto). So since we are kind of showcasing what we have done, hopefully you can apply to your own organization. Some of this might be obvious. Blogs contain links, commenting, and interaction. Twitter is a micro form of blogging so certainly it's important for our bloggers to engage in that medium as well. Using sites such as WeFollow.com we identify followers who have interest in similar topics and even following competitors and even twitting competitors. We recognize that we don’t have all of the news or information for everyone so New York Times or Wall Street Journal has something of value related to our journalist’s piece then by all means it should be shared. Of course identifying the best news and information and optimizing makes using Twitter easy.

(0:16:51.1) BD: So through engaging in these types of activities we feel it really helps us in terms of managing the interests of our audience. I think the strongest point to that when you add up the total number of fans on facebook and followers for twitter, we have a significantly smaller number than the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. However when you look at social media analytics from sites like compete.com and look at the amount of traffic that we have from social media sites and compare that to our competitors and it is about the same which tells us that we have an audience who knows how to engage and is interested in engaging with our staff and our staff knows how to reach out in return. As important on I keep informing our staff how to use twitter it is also about educating our audience as well because if we are going to showcase how to use it internally, we also want it help externally.

(0:17:50.3) BD: Some of my favorite examples come from our community moderator, Barbara, she wrote a blog and at the same time she posted the same question on the twitter and what that really helped with is she had a following on twitter that maybe wasn’t as actively engaged with her onsite content. So when she posted their responses to that question into the comment section on her blog and in turn that helped those folks that follow her blog develop and see this conversation taking place on twitter. We felt that this was such a creative and clever way to bridge the gap between this audience who is following her on twitter and demonstrate that there is a value to engaging with Barbara in both places. Something else that we have started to do is that for those journalists who have regular columns in USA Today and also maintain an active and engaging twitter presence, implementing their twitter feed to complement our articles because for many of our journalists they may update their blog only once a week or once every two weeks but we showcase that they are available on twitter essentially 24x7. This is a tway to show that we can engage with them and also expose the personality of our journalists where USA today is a brand level and at micro level is conversational, approachable, informational, and this allows our journalists to expose that personality traits of theirs at that micro level. Just to showcase previously the USAToday twitter index page which is at twitter.usatoday.com where you could see the highlights and aggregation of all the different twitter feeds that these different up here.

(0:19:48.2) BD: Just to give you samples of what you can expect, in the bottom part of the page is every individual that is on twitter and that is broken up by section. So there you have http://twitter.usatoday.com. So switching gears over to Facebook…this is the USAToday Facebook fan page at http://facebook.com/USAtoday. We look at Facebook as a way in which to extend our brand to a platform and most importantly recognizing that Facebook is no longer a strategy to say 'become a fan', or a strategy no different than early and mid 90s that was just having webpage strategy, but really creating a Facebook presence that commiserates with the type of experience that users expect on our Facebook which is it a diversion, it is reverence, and it is fun.

(0:20:47.4) BD: Some would say take off the suit and tie and maybe put on a swimsuit just to accept the different atmosphere that Facebook is. So we have really made a point to make sure our Facebook experience is very much manually operated instead of running on automation and includes a lot of engaging and interactive features. You are going to see a lot more evolution of the types of interactive features that we have in our Facebook fan page throughout the year but I also strongly believe that you are going to see more and more brands in general adding these types of features which is why these kind of coined the phrase that 2010 will be "the year of Facebook page optimization". Maybe 'FPO' can beat that acronym. I think one of my favorite examples of Facebook engagement was actually by Whole Foods when a year ago they were promoting "25 things that you didn’t know about meat" and that was going around. Well hope is that top 25 things you didn’t know about the whole foods. I thought it was such an ingenious way of recognizing a popular trend in Facebook but being able to apply their brand going by the rules and trends of the Facebook community. Then at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics a couple of months ago we actually had a social media presence in four major areas and started off with a twitter strategy which was every journalist of USA Today who went to the Olympics was required to not only have a blackberry but also Google and twitter installed on their blackberries so that they can speak from any and every event that they were representing. We also had a specific Vancouver Olympics Facebook fan page and then being reminded that the Facebook experience is something that keeping up is no longer just a Vancouver Olympic fan page but Olympic fan page in general where we continued to publish news content to the page just so that we had a very active audience when it comes time for 2012.

(0:23:14.9) BD: Also we saw that daily video streams on YouTube with Vancouver we showcased headlines, results and medals and not be able to embed across any site that we shared. Just to show what we did with our Olympic twitter page was even with the far north pretty blank that is the place where we actually had certain Olympics but we had a module for staff, for athletes, and for sources who could be our competitors and then opportunities for them to see the events by which journalists was covering it. So another area for USAToday as you may have heard is our Fark partnership. Fark is one of the leading social media aggregation sites and the partnership happened a year ago at SouthbySouthwest where Drew Curtis and I met up saying how can traditional and social media work together. Well it actually lead USA today sponsoring the Fark tabs and by the way that squirrel happens to be unofficial mascot for Fark. We did it in such a way that allowed us to be able to integrate with the Fark experience but without deluding the Fark community Fark.

(0:24:09.7) BD: To give sponsorship of the geek tab and you could see some what we consider subtle USAToday branding on the top left and on the top left you have the news as well there but it is very important for us to make sure that the Fark users are not deluded in any way. So all that have seen the center well and is all completely managed and run by Fark. We do not edit them or have any editorial control whatsoever because it is important for us that we have hands off the Fark community but it allows the Fark and USAToday to create new opportunities for advertisers and also for each of us to bring a new demographic to the table that neither partner would have had before. When we look at partnerships in general, we very much look at strategic and demographic monetization growth and just social is now social media as part of way we are too much able to grow our brand.

(0:25:24.5) BD: A couple of months ago we launched the USAToday Social Media Lounge and this was actually the first mainstream news site that actually is actively talking about social media and showing how we make the sausage and also we are lifting up the hood to show you internal USAToday. You have the chance to see what are our staff and organization and learn from ways we implement social media. We are able to start a conversation now with our audience and with our advertisers with analysts or with anyone who wants to understand their organization but what we at USA Today are doing an opportunity as a part of social media to be transparent and to have a conversation about it instead of publishing out ways to engage back and forth. If we look kind of into the future of the way that social networking is going to have an impact on any brand is publishing content to summary to mini content and social media sharing sites complementing content with photos, videos, and podcast and Facebook fan page twitter for real time updates.

(0:26:19.0) BD: There is a lot to do. Not one of those become what is important than the others but certainly a challenge to manage our brand with, but it is also another opportunity to engage and expand your audience. The questions that we ask ourselves for any type of partnership in social media is 6 key questions and we feel that these are the key areas that are good to start with and kind of build from there instead of saying let’s have a Facebook fan page. It is not a question of fan page but who are you going to target for that fan page because everyone on it is an audience. How are you going to measure the success or the traffic of the awareness and you know answers to these kind of questions will kind of fill you right in. So in summary the USA Today social networking has been a logical extension to our content community and social media that we have been doing since 2007 and it does allow point free engagement at the USA Today brand and also the journalist level and social networking is to learn, apply the tools, and experiment.

(0:27:22.7) BD: We are not going to get everything right but that is okay. We definitely want to learn from our mistakes and social media is here to stay and not going away. Twitter is it a fad? It is not going away tomorrow but if it is not twitter then it will be something else. That is it kind of a very quick run through. I will make the slides available after but soon we will open it up for questions.

(0:27:51.6) ML: Very cool can you actually pass back to me? Well I have a million questions myself for you Brian but before we jump into everything just real quick for everybody. Before we get into the Q&A; part of everything, I just want to quickly go through just what we have coming up. I mentioned this in marketing beginning, we have our next session coming up actually next week on April 15th at 2 o’clock and it is called Seeing is Believing, The Social Marketing Hub and it is with our CTO, Dave Carter. So 2 pm April 15th and to register you can go to Awareness to check that out and sign up for it. We are also going to be in San Francisco next week at Chris Brogan's Conference the New Marketing Experience at Ford Mason Center in San Francisco. We are there all day April 13th so if you are in San Francisco area and you are interested in stopping by, definitely come by. I think we may be organizing an event out there as well.

(0:28:59.7) ML: We will send out a note about that if we decide to do something out there in San Francisco. Finally if you have any questions for Brian feel free to get in touch with us. Feel free to connect with me directly. I am @BostonMike on Twitter and you can reach me by email at mike.lewis@awarenessnetworks.com. We are on and you know Brian is everywhere so reach him on Twitter @bdresher and his email address is there as well. So we are going to open for questions now. If you have any questions you can feel free to go ahead and shoot them in and there is a lot coming in through the the WebEx console. You can also send them up by Twitter just be sure to use the hashtag #awarenessinc so we can find them. So Brian, the most common question people are asking right now is can you talk a little bit more about "ROIII" and really what you are measuring, what you are looking at, and the type of results that you are generating?

(0:29:50.8) BD: Yeah absolutely. First a step back, typically a lot of news sites have measured success fairly from a traffic perspective and historically if that hadn’t been there it would have been considered unsuccessful. Frankly in social networking we all know that just looking at only that form of engagement would probably be disastrous because there will be nothing more than really promotional and looking at the other forms of engagement it allows to take a look at and measure specific things like increases in Facebook fan page interactions as well as tools that measure traffic that goes from the Twitter page back directly to USA Today or directly to New York Times. But that could mean that you just go from let’s say Facebook just tagging the photo of your friend commenting and then going to USA today fan page may be make a comment there and move to another page and then going to our website. So even if we are not getting the direct traffic to our Facebook fan page we are receiving traffic from Facebook in general. So that is helping us to understand that we do have a level of influence as a result of having a meaningful presence in Facebook that maybe reflected directly in our fan page but this is being reflected in general. So we just try not to look at purely fan page to engagement but overall interact Facebook. Does that help or do you need more content?

(0:31:30.7) ML: No I think that is great but a lot of the other questions are getting very specific. Just about the things you have going on twitter which is obviously a whole bunch of stuff. Someone asked a great question, is having that many twitter accounts too many or is it just smart targeting on your part? It is a soft ball question, I know, but I think it is a good one because I see a lot of brands struggling with the same issue, "do we have one "uber" Twitter account or multiple accounts based on interest?"

(0:31:53.2) BD: We definitely think the latter. Actually it is smart targeting because twitter for all of us is a micro-level interest. You know, a set of our twitter feeds or whatever twitter management tool. We cleared out filth so typically thrown in on very specific area and the reality is that our USA Today main account is wonderful. It does have manual contribution and it has a high level of what is taking place in general across USA Today. However, if you are really interested specifically in pop culture or cruise or golf, USA Today account alone probably has too much information to address those specific level of needs however our journalists whose main piece is that one specific area you have to form an engagement level with that journalist more so than with the main USA Today account and by engaging with that journalist on micro level helps us USA today at the back end because journalist interactions public translates as long term engagement when they either sift through the journalist’s recommendations over USA Today.

(0:33:07.0) ML: That is really cool and again, I know a lot of brands are struggling with that very same issue. Just to poke at that a bit more, what about Facebook? A guest just asked about what is your thought about having a specific fan pages broken down to different sections for a paper instead of having one page for everything. Is that something you see on the horizon for USAToday?

(0:33:32.0) BD: Oh yeah it absolutely it does and somewhere we are currently having a discussion internally about that same issue but also what we can see it as a playground that Facebook is that we have one tab for each section and 2 of the 6 paper tabs are kind of permanent only about 4 other tabs to try and say when we have 7 main sections and many other subsections within each one that may not make the most sense. So we are looking at ways to really rethink how we can have our presence on Facebook and try to be something for everyone but also is not going to be a…if you are into sports then there is nothing here for you. I know it is somewhat of a vague answer but we are actually currently revamping our Facebook fan page that will really have something for everyone but also be even more interactive than it is now. I know it is a little vague but we are going to do something pretty exciting about the next month or so.

(0:34:38.5) ML: Sounds like that project is under wraps so I won't push on it too much. Thinking about it does your participation on twitter capture how interactions translate into revenue at all and if that actually accounts to how you go about paying or rewarding the journalists that are essentially bringing in more revenue through their content?

(0:34:56.3) BD: Well the wage is actually determined by a pay scale higher than mine.

(0:35:01.4) ML: Actually, can you tell me exactly how journalists get paid and what they make?

(0:35:05.1) BD: I cannot publish that information and I really don’t know that specific myself but as far as the way it looks that connects back to what the journalists do... I don’t believe that they have performance matrix currently based on their usage of twitter. It is really going to vary on journalist to journalist basis. For some twitter may not be the right platform for them to communicate and for some people might be better one platform than another. Secondly it can be very difficult to know what was the exact result of the journalist’s twitting. Was it because of his twitting that traffic was at that site or because twitter has become much more of a tool for this particular feed that people happen to be twitting the content without having any effort on their own. I still have to look into that very carefully that said even if the journalists are actively twitting we do highly encourage that they monitor twitter for trend. One of my favorite example over a year ago, there was a snowstorm in east coast and one of our travel journalist did a search on snow in hotel and sent twit that essentially said “got snowed in and cannot fly out today…hotel now charging double for staying another night.” She was a journalist with no twitter presence but she was using twitter to monitor trends taking place in real times and as a result of seeing many types of twits like that she was then able to compose a blog post and not everything you got to base value but atleast able to create a conversation where she is exploring what type of price couch maybe appearing within the hotel industry as a result of the weather related event.

(0:36:43.8) ML: Another question that came in is Can you talk a little bit about how you audit for messaging consistency which is within USA Today? Do you audit to make sure there is a consistency or are there any security policies that play into any part of your strategy?

(0:37:06.8) BD: Well we don’t have any sort of social media guidelines like some of the organizations have published. We do have blogging guidelines and we just have suffice to work for social media because they just kind of ways in which what can and cannot be done and also twitter micro blogging twitter fall under the umbrella of blogging guideline which is if you are let’s say neutral correspondent you don’t have a twitter feed where you are dashing or praising Obama. So that is kind of consistency in messaging. There is nothing really that we say have to specifically on point and I think it is intentional because it is really hard to manage when you have someone who is writing about pop culture and someone out is talking about White House coverage. It is very different type of messaging and if we did that it would also delude the value of each journalist’s personality and that is something that USA Today has prided in itself on is that we are conversational, we are informational, we are approachable and if we have such a vanilla personality across all of Twitter I think it deludes kind of the value of the brand promise and trust that we have built up all these years.

(0:38:22.9) ML: Absolutely and that makes sense. With all these accounts going on, who manages it all? Is there a staff monitoring what is going one or is there a specific department? Is that your department that manages everything?

(0:38:34.9) BD: Well each journalist manages his or her own twitter account of 110+ twitter feed of which is 90 are managed individual journalists. There are very few which is automated because they are headlines USA Today money account but those of us in the marketing group, myself and Alison manages our corporate marketing fee we do take a regular look daily at our journalists’ twits and it is not so much by any means of slapping as it is that help promote what they are doing and encourage good twit them and also to help promote story leads, story ideas, if there are certain events make sure that is known throughout the twitter sphere and really help guide what their efforts as opposed to restraining or restricting their efforts in anyways.

(0:39:31.0) ML: Before I ask my next question I just want to remind people that the presentation will be made available after we wrap up today. We have also recorded everything so the presentation that Brian gave as well as the Q&A; session we are conducting now will be made available within 48 hours and before the end of the week we will have it up on the site. You will be able to download everything including the slides and check out again if you didn’t get a chance to see everything or you missed something during the session. Brain, Amy, asked if you don’t have a policy in place for social media, can you talk a little bit about your blogging guidelines if you have any?

(0:40:04.9) BD: Yeah we do have a blogging guidelines but unfortunately I don’t have it in front of me and I am not able to speak on them because don’t want to misspeak on them but in fact the point I made earlier which is you know mutual line of correspondent don’t praise or blast Obama and being mindful that even if you are off the clock and that type of example you are still representing USA Today and that is your extend to twitter just being mindful of the line behind you but our journalists certainly have a lot of free rein because we do believe in freedom of speech and freedom of press but they also get to do what they want on twitter and we recognize that they are pretty gray areas but fortunately I think because of the encouragement that we have given and also through our active education and informational steps that we got on last year and a half we really haven’t had any major hiccups where you have to say "uh oh look what someone did". I mean there certainly have been a couple of things where we wish to make it or state it slightly differently that nothing anyone had to worry about and that former reprimand of any kind.

(0:41:14.9) ML: That is great. I think that you pulled out the exact stream and it almost looked like tweetdeck. We have a lot of questions about that and what platform you are using for that? Is that something you use the Twitter APIs and just develop the internally or are you using another service for that?

(0:41:35.0) BD: The twitter internally usatoday.com.

(0:41:43.1) ML: So those people who asked about that can contact your IT team. I'm sure they will be happy find something some extra social media consulting dollars. I am just kidding.

(0:41:51.1) BD: We can add another revenue stream.

(0:41:53.6) ML: There you go now you are a social media consultant. Welcome to the group.

(0:41:57.2) ML: So another question that came up…well actually we had two questions that came up and one is very self serving but I am going to ask you anyway. Someone asked how USAToday is going to use the hub?

(0:42:18.9) BD: Sure from a random user named BostonMike?

(0:42:25.3) ML: Yes absolutely... he has been bugging me with questions all afternoon!

(0:42:29.8.) BD: Well I am so glad you asked that question but in all seriousness as Mike mentioned in the beginning of this webinar that we are earlier adopter of Social Marketing Hub and that is going to help us to streamline a lot of social media activity as you saw from some of the last slides that I had kind of the transformation of the role of brand and having a lot of posts but then adding Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and, in today’s environment, we have to go to each of these sites individually, add each message and subsequently publish the same information at least 4 or 5 times. With the social marketing hub developed by Awareness we will be able to login to one centralized social media content system to identify the channels we want to publish to and write content once but publish five times - possibly more because you have the ability to publish through multiple channels. Additionally, it is scalable in such a way where we are able to allow every one of our staff to connect through the system as well which means that at the marketing level we are either able to see every type of Tweet and Facebook post and potentially blog post, photo, or YouTube video published across the organization. So that allows for a much more streamlined way to be able to see measure and manage social media activity at USAToday. As a result of that publishing we can see all of the reactions that takes place through those efforts or comments and liking. We are very excited about it and certainly it will help with bandwidth issues and we are starting to put our marketing group. We are hoping to roll it out under each business unit and continue evaluating for full organization deployment.

(0:44:19.2) ML: That is great. Believe it or not we did actually get that question. It came in through the WebEx. I am not going to say who sent it in because I don’t want to embarrass them either but it was a good question wasn’t it? Needless to say we are psyched to have you on board. Another question just came in about how you came to negative comments. There is something that a lot of bigger brands have to deal with. Actually every single brand that we talk to realizes that not everything that is said social media is positive or, you know, good for brand. How do you guys handle that in general? Do you have any policies in place or is it with reporters or you have anything going on behind the scenes when something negative comes in?

(0:44:55.5) BD: Yeah absolutely. It depends on what the negativity is. Probably 95% of those cases it is just responding directly to individuals because social media is a big part of it and has got transparency and so there is a public criticism that we believe warrants a public response to show that individual that we are paying attention and we are doing what we can to address the problem. Usually that kind of results in an immediate response. In 5% of the cases depending on what type of criticism is we want to make sure that we have an appropriate answer for why we have done something to make a harder issue that typically always publically when and where we can.

(0:45:43.6) ML: Do you have any thoughts or plans to do more on MySpace or do you have any thoughts on how that is or how you are going to use that?

(0:45:51.5) BD: We currently have MySpace social media sharing button on our side for articles and as far as further relationship with MySpace just like any other social media site we would continue to evaluate it and probably MySpace went through a transformation last year and so I think it is more of a strategic plan come together. We will certainly look to see if it makes sense to work as the part of the transformation but in terms of what do we have right now with them is nothing that we have there as we do on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Fark.

(0:46:30.6) ML: Well the question actually came up three times. It is definitely worth asking: What about monetization? That is something a lot of organizations struggle with and I think I know the right answer to it but how would you monetize social media and will you continue to monetize social media? Actually Alice is asking which is a great followup, what format are you planning on using?

(0:46:56.3) BD: Sure. Well as far as one is wondering quick answer every place has got a purse from a social media site directly to USA Today site obviously that results in ads getting served so having a larger social media presence and that results in more ads, more impressions, and more revenues. That is the short answer but for the longer and more complex answer particularly for a news site is that when you have let’s say a company like Dell where as part of its tweets they might be able to promote their products and their deal because that is quite hard on their presence but for USA Today on their news site our content is our product. So let’s say we tweet that a plane lands on the Hudson brought to you by Coca-Cola it will probably run the users in a wrong way. So we need to set things a little more differently and that is one case presents new challenges how to monetize social media in direct way but not on the back end that is just through a cliff. So we are trying to see how that might work. There is obviously an evolution that is taking place and I have seen some examples and also had discussions with other social media leaders that for an organization like USA Today we just have 20% that might not be taken well. There is something sort of more as I said free cup of coffee ad you know Starbucks or something or doughnuts that might not be much more accepted so I think there are ways in which it can work but it is just finding that really delicate balance between selling our twitter feeds and trading opportunity for our audience. We obviously want to strive for the latter without ignoring the former. That is very delicate balance.

(0:48:56.4) ML: Absolutely fundamentally you are still around the advertising model right?

(0:49:01.0) BD: Yes. Very much and taking a look at our market model where we sponsored geek tabs to fark.usatoday.com. it completely retains the Fark user experiences detects from one tab to another in Fark from news to sports to geek which we sponsored and adds a lot of and I knew got new opportunities for our advertisers that the way in which we were able to monetize that partnership without changing the user experience. So for any other social media opportunity we try to keep that Fark experience in mind.

(0:49:36.4) ML: You brought up Fark again and we had I think five different questions from people asking what the heck 'Fark' is and how you use it? Do you mind giving a quick overview of Fark and how you guys use it?

(0:49:49.0) BD: First of all I apologize upfront for not describing that reporting because looking back it made no sense whatsoever why The Optic Convention Center and the squirrel and this is a good partnership.

(0:50:03.9) ML: No honestly the squirrel was probably my favorite picture in the whole deck.

(0:50:07.9) BD: Yes and I would give the photo credit to the gentleman who developed that. The Fark is a leading social media aggregation site so for those of you who or read it Fark takes headlines that have been published by many mainstream news sites and rewrites them in often extraordinarily reverent and snarky and some mistake it in appropriate way but specifically very funny. They track us directly from the headlines of the aggregates at each publisher’s site and so for us we reaching up the Fark was certainly very different from the typical experience that some might USA Today see for not writing our headlines in snarky or reverent way but it allows to expand our brand so it is social media place that quite frankly no one had really into. This partnership allows us to be able to reach them and grasp it but really focus on the funny but also very mature ads and as demographic and very familiar with the content that USA Today has to offer are now able to put some of them and write as well in a very subtle way. Similar for Fark we are giving them that has an audience that today is probably not familiar with spark that cannot find a new type of site to able to get news headlines. Fark is definitely the biggest one and the reason why that has the higher what the Fark is because it really was something that we were happy to catch in the industry because Fark would have never done a partnership with that before it came to news site and New York Times when their blogger, the name escapes me, immediately wrote very biting piece that the evolution of social media and they actually thought the compliment that the NEW YORK TIMES is criticizing the partnership of ours and that means we are doing something right. Not that we need the validation but something that helps to reinforce on how smart the publisher of Fark announced by the founder of Fark, Dave Curtis by self list that the next partner that they are bringing on board is ESPN to sponsor the sport pad.

(0:51:43.5) ML: That is really cool.

(0:52:44.1) BD: Yeah really cool so we are very proud to say ESPN is following in USA Today’s footsteps.

(0:52:48.4) ML: That is terrific. So we are right at the end and yeah we do have couple of other questions but what I will do is since everybody who is on line if you need your questions to be answered. What we will do is actually download everything that came in and we will send it to Brian so we will make sure that we will get it back either later in the afternoon tomorrow. Sometime this week we will make sure that we follow the questions that you asked. Brian thank you so much it was really great. Just reading through some of the pieces that are coming in from people. I think I would say surprised but they are really impressed with everything going on inside social media. To be honest so am I. I mean the last time I heard you talk you had a whole lot of other stuff going on now. To me it is just great. You are doing a ton of stuff that is really cool and great case study for everybody who was on today. I really appreciate your time.

(0:53:37.3) BD: Fantastic thank you so much for having me today. I certainly look forward to hearing from everyone. You can send them to me on our social blog that is usatoday.com or twitter on bdresher or bdresher@usatoday.com if you want to email me.

(0:53:52.9) ML: Cool well thanks again Brian and thanks everybody on line and as I said check out our site and we will be back next week with our very own Dave Carter, our CTO, so register and we hope that you make that as well.

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