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You and I are bombarded by thousands of ideas and brand impressions every day. They come to us through several mediums including television, newspapers and billboards. I’m specifically interested in social media and its power as an influencer: Can social media convince you to buy a specific brand of soda and read a newspaper series on the November elections?

I’ll spend the next two semesters studying this proposition as project leader of VML’s institutional fellowship with the Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute. I’ll study what it takes to move a person from product awareness to trial, and from regular customer to an advocate for the product, service or idea. Determining the right mix and amount of copy, image and video is critical. Knowing when to send this message so it is read and acted on is crucial.

The inspiration for this fellowship comes from my day job as VML’s director of social media and emerging media. My clients need to validate the money they spend on their social media efforts. Determining the right media mix is a daily challenge. Over time this has become a standardized process for television. With GRPs (gross rating points), brands and media buyers know how many points they need to buy to get a certain lift in sales. During this fellowship, I hope to come up with a similar system for social media.

Developing this metric will help not only the marketing world but also the journalism industry by giving us a better idea of how and when to use social media to drive interest in a story or program. It also will provide insight into what type of content is needed to amplify a story and help us decide if an idea or topic should be presented to the public in different forms. I’m looking forward to investigating.

Chad Martin  
   
Institutional fellowship project lead


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