Recently, students in our marketing class were visited by Oprah’s social media marketing manager, Maya Watson. Here’s what some School of Business students took away from this exciting opportunity, in their own words.
Few people think of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media outlets as powerful marketing tools. Maya showed us that the most recent game-changing players in consumer marketing are right in our own online backyards.
She emphasized the novelty of marketing tools such as Facebook and Twitter, telling students to dismiss the often-heard title “social media expert.” “There’s no such thing,” she said. “The format is too new. There are still so many ways people are figuring out how to use it.” However, up-and-coming marketers should know that social media is no place for the traditional “hard sell”—it’s more about building and nurturing relationships, sharing ideas and building brand image. “That’s what Oprah is the best at: making a human connection,” she said.
Oprah’s new TV network, OWN, is using social media to incorporate real-time online feedback into live discussion through programs such as Lifeclass. This could potentially lead to an entire new way of viewing TV: when a viewer sitting on their couch on the other side of the country is given the opportunity to participate in a high-profile television show, it creates a truly even audience playing field.
The most surprising part about her speech? When asked whether Oprah actually managed her own Twitter account, she laughed. “She does! You see that typo there? It’s all her!”
When I heard that Oprah’s social media guru was coming to speak to our marketing class, I was so excited. I remember in grammar school, I did an entire project about Oprah’s life and her journey leading to success; I’d always admired her drive and passion. As Maya shared her story about how she began working for Harpo, she reminded me of Oprah: persistent and passionate. One main aspect that I will take away from Maya’s presentation was her dedication to engagement in the social media world. Many think that human interaction has been tossed by the way-side since the introduction and evolution of social media, but the opposite is happening. People are finding new ways to engage with clients, businesses and celebrities through social media. The challenge for marketers is to figure out a way to utilize social media to increase customer retention and turn social media followers into product purchasers by encouraging conversation through these social outlets. It is no wonder Oprah has hired Maya to engage her fans, followers, and clients: she is intelligent, funny, and personable.
This presentation truly was a phenomenal experience. Maya really enlightened me about social media, especially Twitter. She clearly explained how effective a tool like Twitter can be for an organization using the product the right way. She shared the impact of her personal experiences with Delta Airlines seeing her tweets about their lack of service, and the restaurant that tweeted her back after her positive comments and offered her recommendations for her next visit.
I always looked at Twitter as just a place to tell your crew, “oh I just had a hot dog today” or “gosh I am so bored.” While Twitter is a place for that sort of thing, it also offers a vast amount of data and real time statistics available such as what part of the country is tweeting about hot dogs the most.
After hearing her speak, I decided to take a look what I could do with the information I learned. I decided I am going to offer a service (free to start) to some smaller companies, with varied backgrounds and services offered, to monitor Twitter on a monthly basis for them and gather any information about them I could from past and present tweets to help assess how their product is being used and collect the thoughts of their patrons.