Director, Social Media
Mobile service behemoth AT&T is all about connectivity, so it’s no surprise that the brand’s key campaign this summer was about staying connected on the road. Nick Bianchi, director of social media at AT&T, spoke with eMarketer’s Maria Minsker about why cross-platform messaging was central to the campaign’s success and how it will continue to drive the company’s strategy in 2016.
eMarketer: How did the #RoadTripATT campaign come together, and how did you make it relevant across multiple social properties?
Nick Bianchi: During the summertime, people are on the road with their families, taking vacations, and it was an opportunity for us to entertain our customers while they’re sitting in the backseat. We wanted to get them involved in a campaign by incorporating strong calls to action, integrating influencers and producing visual content on Instagram. It was a cross-channel campaign, so while the majority of content lived on Instagram, we had calls to action on Twitter, sponsored pieces on Facebook and blogger influencers supporting it through their own blogs and content.
eMarketer: What role did the cross-platform approach play in driving engagements? In other words, did it pay off?
Bianchi: The conversations generated around 37 million impressions for #RoadTripATT, and approximately 145,000 engagements, which is pretty high. These were generated by strong calls to action [on our social properties]. The bloggers and Instagram influencers resulted in an additional 2.7 million impressions and an additional 137,000 engagements.
“The conversations generated around 37 million impressions for #RoadTripATT, and approximately 145,000 engagements, which is pretty high.”
eMarketer: When you look at campaign performance, how do you deal with the lack of measurement standardization?
Bianchi: All brands are in this constant fight to rationalize social media and understand what the metrics mean for each platform as the platforms change their prioritization of content. We are constantly working toward a standard dashboard of metrics. It’s increasingly hard as the platform strategies diverge, but that’s something that we try to track across the board. Impressions are sort of a tried-and-true metric for us, but we also look at video views, which became really important in 2015.
eMarketer: How are you measuring the effectiveness of videos?
Bianchi: We look at video as a metric that is tied to success. We track how many people are pausing on a piece of content, even if it’s auto-rolling, clicking on it and perhaps expanding it because it caught their eye. We strive to make sure that the content we’re producing is engaging our audiences.
eMarketer: What advice do you have for brands planning to experiment with cross-platform campaigns in 2016?
Bianchi: You can try to develop a golden thread [to permeate] a campaign, but it really requires building the right content for the right platforms. The Instagram target user is going to want a different type of content than the Facebook user. You can have a cross-platform campaign, but the content has to reflect what the user on a specific platform expects.
eMarketer: Social ad spending will likely continue to grow in 2016. What are the risks associated with betting so heavily on social without much standardization for metrics?
Bianchi: Losing sight of your goal is a risk, so we always try to ground ourselves. When we’re building a campaign, we ground our team in this statement: “Why would someone care about this piece of content and why would they share it?” As you increase spending, it’s easy to get lost in some of the high-level metrics and move away from the original goal.