A Look Back at 2012

an interview with
Gayle Weiswasser Vice President of Social Media Communications, Discovery Communications

Looking to gain some insight prior to the upcoming Pivot Conference in New York City, I interviewed a number of marketers including Gayle Weiswasser, VP, Social Media Communications, Discovery Communications.  Here is what Gayle had to say:

DN: As 2011 winds down, are you thinking “good riddance” or “darn I’ll miss it?”
We’d be thrilled to have another year like 2011. It was a banner year for social media at Discovery – we saw great growth across our social media platforms as well as sustained, strong engagement with fans, thanks to consistent delivery of compelling content that kept our fans happy. We hope that 2012 will be another year of experimentation, growth and success.

DN: Looking back at 2011, what new things did you try that worked or didn’t work?
We experimented with on-air integration of social media (most notably during a marathon for Science’s An Idiot Abroad).  We’d like to expand that capability across all of our networks and do more with on-air integration during premieres. We also tried a number of social media initiatives with our talent that proved to be a great success on social platforms – live chats, Q&As, Facebook/Twitter takeovers.

DN: Is the current economic uncertainty affecting your plans for 2012 and if so how?
Social media outreach and marketing are very cost-effective strategies for driving tune-in and traffic and engaging with fans. We do not expect the economic climate to affect our social media plans; in fact, social media has proven to be indispensable when budgets are tightened.

DN: Looking ahead to 2012, are there some emerging trends that you hope to capitalize upon?
Mobile is a big trend for 2012 (and has been for the last few years). The more that we can engage our fans across a range of devices through compelling content and apps – whether they augment our on-air programming through co-viewing or simply make our brands more accessible and fun – the more successful we will be. Mobile is incredibly important to our business, and Discovery’s commitment to making its sites mobile-friendly and to developing these apps is a testament to that.

DN: Are you particularly proud of something new that you tried in 2011?
We’re proud of the fact that, with very few exceptions around individual shows, Discovery does all of its social media in-house. We’ve grown from a team of 2 in 2009 to a team of 10 today, which is a testament to Discovery’s commitment to social media and its importance as part of a larger marketing/communications strategy.

DN: How are the dual trends, complexity (for marketers) and data-overload (for consumers) effecting your plans?
We know that our fans are constantly bombarded with information, and that we are competing with many, many inputs for both their television minutes and their online attention. That puts the burden squarely on us to consistently deliver strong, authentic content that is both relevant and entertaining. It is very easy for a fan to hide a page or unsubscribe from a Twitter account, or just simply to pass by our posts without sharing, commenting or clicking through. We try to meet that challenge by setting a high bar for content on our platforms and using social media to spotlight effectively the amazing programming that airs every day across our networks.

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