Editor's Note: This week our “Meet a Media Planner” series is expanding its horizons a bit and talking to a social media planner. Matt Maher is a Social Media Manager and Content Producer for Initiative in New York City, and was a finalist in the 2013 Yahoo! Young Media Stars competition. After playing baseball at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Matt went pro and played in the Frontier League. He “officially retired” at 22 and moved into freelance video editing, social marketing, and Web design. In early 2013, Matt was snapped up by Initiative to help develop social media and content strategies. In addition to assisting in client pitches and managing Initiative's social platforms globally, he has also branched out to help develop social strategies for IPG Mediabrands, UM, and BPN.
Yahoo! Ad Blog: If you’re pitching a client who’s new to social media, what do you say it can do for them?
Matt Maher: Social is the platform that lets brands have conversations with their audiences. Brands have to realize that they’re no longer talking at consumers, they’re talking with them. So in order to “break through the noise” and catch the attention of, say, a millennial consumer, they need to learn to entertain them.
I think Oreo does a fantastic job of this. In fact, they won a bunch of Lions awards at Cannes. Every day, they’re online talking with consumers and putting out great content---which is the key. People want to see images and videos. They want to feel part of the brand. And I think the brands that can bridge that gap are the ones that are going to really make it.
YAB: What are some other best practices brands and advertisers need to know before diving into social?
MM: The number-one thing is to have a solid strategy. If you don’t have a plan and know your ultimate goal, social can become a very chaotic world. There are so many platforms---LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook---and I think a lot of brands open 10 accounts on 10 different platforms so they can be everywhere. But what happens is they end up giving 10% to 10 different platforms as opposed to giving 100% to one platform that will really impact their business.
Each brand has one platform that will probably suit them best. The best approach is to pick the platforms where you can succeed and then commit your time to those. It’s better to choose one or two and do a great job than be on 10 and do all 10 poorly.
YAB: What’s the next big thing on the social media technology horizon?
MM: I think the next frontier is going to be the wearable technologies. Our smart phones have become like appendages---they’re attached to us. And when social technology gets to a point of good integration that will make it even easier to connect, that’s what people will enjoy. That’s the future on the tech side. On the advertising side, I think the brands that are going to thrive are the ones that not only adapt to these new technologies, but also find ways to entertain consumers through them. It’s “advertainment,” as they say.
YAB: What do you do to take a break from your job?
MM: If you watch my Yahoo! Young Media Stars video, you’ll see that I play the piano. I’ve had a band the last few years called Minutes Like Ours and we play shows regularly. So, for me, getting home, sitting behind the keys, and singing a little is the best release. If I ever feel burnt out, music is what sparks my creativity again and relaxes me.
YAB: Speaking of your video, how many times were you hit in the head in it?
MM: (Laughs) Unfortunately, it required a few takes, because I didn’t think the actor who was with me was selling it well enough. I didn’t want to go all Spielberg on him, but I just wasn’t buying it. So after about four bad takes, I told him he just really needed to hit me. The only way it was going to look real and be funny.
I instantly regretted saying that because he didn’t hold back on the next one. Then I was like, “I didn’t tell you to punch me!” But when we looked at the film, I thought it was beautiful. It hurt, but I was glad he committed to it.