The Ayzenberg Group recently announced that it would be acquiring The Social Method and merging operations. The combination of people and focus is a continuation of a natural relationship between the two companies. We got all the pertinent details on the merger from Keith Pape, VP of Social, Mobile & Emerging Media at Ayzenberg Group, and The Social Method co-founder Rebecca Markarian who is now Director of Social & Emerging Media at Ayzenberg Group.
Why does the Ayzenberg Group feel like now was the right time to acquire The Social Method?
Keith Pape: We’ve been working with The Social Method for nearly 2 years and our efforts just grew more and more closely aligned as we saw more success together. It just made sense at some point to become one organization, as we were spending all our time together. It made sense to take advantage of what were duplicate systems. The team has amazing synergy.
I’ve known Rebecca (CEO of The Social Method) for years prior to my arrival at Ayzenberg. We were introduced by a mutual friend and we’ve always had a like-minded approach to Social Media.
Give me some background on how you started working with the Ayzenberg Group.
Rebecca Markarian: I met Keith Pape, who heads up social, mobile and emerging media at Ayzenberg, through a mutual contact in the social field and we immediately were on the same page. Keith’s knowledge of creating social engagements and building advanced apps intrigued me and I think my passion for analytics and measurement complemented that nicely. We finally had the opportunity about a year ago to work on a community outreach program where we began experimenting and testing different theories and really digging into the data. From there it just grew.
How will the capabilities of Ayzenberg enhance The Social Method and vice-versa?
Keith Pape: It’s funny that Rebecca and I kind of mimic the benefits of the two companies. We have many similar assets (community managers, project managers, bloggers, strategists, analysts), but, although we have similar strengths that tie us together, we also shore up each other’s weaknesses. One will have a greater strength in analytics, and the other a keen insight into long term strategy. One an in-depth knowledge into entertainment and toys, but the other has a contact into the Mom’s that make the decision on what gets purchased. It’s constantly an Yin and Yang that complete anything we touch and make the two much stronger by working together.
Rebecca Markarian: Ayzenberg appealed to me immediately because of the talent of the team. They are savvy on all things digital and they don’t just “talk the talk” — they really dig in and work closely with clients to understand how they can help meet not just marketing objectives but business objectives. This concept was at the core of the Social Method. For me it was always about ensuring a brand’s reputation was intact and figuring out how we could help them build awareness and ultimately increase sales.
What are some of the projects that, theoretically, you’ll work with The Social Method?
Keith Pape: Everything is so tightly integrated. We complete each other’s team. Already we have had our project manager who had a particular strength leading the graveyard shift completely made up of ‘Social Method’ Community staff, and the analytics team has already become more efficient combing the writing styles of one analyst with the data manipulation of the other. No client we have on the roster won’t be improved, whether it’s a AAA video game launch, a major toy brand or the leading energy drink brand’s latest crazy stunt.
Talk to me about your history of working with brands like Old Spice, Jaguar, Land Rover and Hilton Hotels and how you think your social marketing with them succeeded.
Rebecca Markarian: In leading or being part of the PR and communication efforts for these brands I learned with each that perception was stronger than whatever the latest creative execution said about your brand. Changing perception is an art I learned working with the media and now use in working with consumers and it is a practice of listening more than talking and really trying to understand where consumer perception meets the marketing message and figuring out how to make the two meet so a consumer can understand the value of a product. I also learned that standard messaging rarely works in creating interest among all audiences. It’s much more effective to take the time to understand each person’s wants and needs and then work the messaging to show how your product or service fills that.
Talk to me about how The Social Method’s proprietary toolset enabling real time analytics for social activity monitoring, management and measurement with compliment Ayzenberg’s business.
Keith Pape: Everyone is talking ROI, KPI and every other acronym concerning data and metrics when it comes to Social Media, and what they are talking about is that Social Media lacks hard numbers (real, quantifiable, numbers). We think differently. We’ve found that the problem isn’t the data, as it’s available, it’s the way you think about it. Most technology vendors think of social media data and reporting from a tech perspective, and ultimately, it’s cool, but not useful. The PR folks think of it from a PR perspective or customer service perspective, which doesn’t give the community it’s due in it’s innate ability to generate true viral traffic that can be measured and reported on, and far exceeds the customer service model of; complaint, response, resolution. The community isn’t just open or closed, or happy or unhappy. Or even ‘engaged’ which seems to be the response/phrase of the day. We are pulling data in real time and collecting it. Constantly looking at it, analyzing it, storing the analysis and using it to develop trends, not just on engagement or in number of responses or shares or ‘likes’, but really determining cause and effect, based on that data and in real time making recommendations to the client on what the community is telling us is important to them, and thus, what is important for the brand to accomplish in order to be successful.
Rebecca Markarian: Our toolset takes in all conversations about your brand or product and analyzes them from a consumer perspective. We can look at the conversations on your channels and out in the public social space and understand what people think about your brand right now. What are they concerned about? What do they love? While some argue they know this already, often the data we uncover is different than what is perceived and we’re able to help clients create better products, services and communications using this data.
Why do you feel like social media is going to be “the next big thing” for brand marketing in the future?
Rebecca Markarian: Social media has changed the way consumers think about their relationships with brands. They are gravitating toward brands that listen, respond and consider as well as act on what their community has to say. The new consumer wants to be heard and responded to immediately and their expectation that brands will do this 24/7 is rapidly increasing. I think for brands that make the investment to be there for their community and take into account what they want in the development of the products and services, they’ll see more loyalty from consumers in the long run.
Rebecca, Keith thanks.
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