The Clay Matthews Social Media Combine

If you missed MediaPost's Social Media Insider Summit this week in Florida, you can still learn a lot by paying attention to just one person, albeit someone who wasn't even there. His name's Clay Matthews III, and he says on Twitter that he's "just an average American... with extraordinary hair!!" Most know him better as the Green Bay Packers linebacker who will soon play in the Super Bowl.

Even if he couldn't make it in person, he found a pretty good cheerleader in Allie Savarino Kline, vice president of marketing at Brand Affinity Technologies, a compay that manages celebrity endorsements. Allie was on my panel about "Making Social Data Rock," along with Miami Dolphins senior vice president of corporate partnerships and integrated media Jim Rushton, FanAppz founder and CEO Jon Siegal, and 33Across founder Eric Wheeler. While all of them were quotable and tweetable, Allie livened up the panel toward the end, first by picking fights (humorously) with the audience over sports rivalries, and then by sharing why Clay Matthews is a true social media champion.

Clay is one of Brand Affinity Technologies' celebrity endorsers. He doesn't have the most fans of all of the athletes in BAT's portfolio, but he does drive results from his audience, and he's more effective than certain household names such as Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Terrell Owens. Why, though? What makes a rising star like Clay so powerful? Allie offered three lessons from him, and I'll then elaborate why they are more broadly applicable.

1) Limit the number of brands you endorse.  Clay needs to be selective and won't accept every offer. He appreciates that if he wants his fans to take an action based on what he says, he has to pick and choose what he'll promote. On a bigger picture, marketers can often be more selective with the campaigns and messages they're sharing so that they make it clear for their fans what matters.

2) Align with the brands you endorse. If Clay endorses a breakfast cereal or shampoo brand, I'd probably consider it, even as a Giants fan. If he endorses enterprise resource planning software, I'll be really suspicious. If he endorses shampoo and it turns someone's hair green so he or she winds up looking like Kimberly Drummond in that episode of "Diff'rent Strokes," his days as an endorser are over. Marketers tend to give this more thought with celebrities, but not always as much with technologies. How many times have you wondered what a marketer is doing promoting a check-in service or some half-baked application that doesn't seem to fit with its brand?

3) Get to the Super Bowl.  Clay has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his two professional seasons. He's now going to play in the Super Bowl and may wind up bringing home the trophy. What's true for Clay is true for marketers: the best way to succeed in social media is build a great brand. If you work with a brand people love and it stands for good things, people will want to align with it. People align with winners, and with brands that have a positive momentum.

Later on during the Summit, Brand Affinity Technologies CEO Ryan Steelberg added more to the list: Integrate endorsements with other media and community programs. Be patient. Measure results against actual goals, not directional goals like effective CPMs or cost per clicks.

Perhaps the most poignant lesson of the day came from another athlete -- one who did come to the Summit -- professional basketball champion John Salley. He is personally motivated to make sure his social media presence is perfectly on-brand. Noting he has three daughters, he said, "They follow me on Twitter and Facebook, so I'm very particular about what I say."

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