my turn


What Are People Talking About In Social?

When Citi Field opened in New York, it represented new hope for New York Mets fans and new marketing opportunities for sponsors. The Mets had recently picked up All-Star pitcher Johan Santana and their long-term marketing partner, Delta Air Lines, saw an opportunity to take advantage of the overwhelming hope that fans were feeling about their new star.

As fans handed over their tickets and crossed into the new stadium, they were simultaneously transported back in time by the classic brick stadium design of the corridors and propelled into the future by the modern technologies that lined the walls. Each fan was given a backpack, provided by Delta Air Lines, that was a replica Johan Santana jersey with the pitcher’s name, number and a Delta Logo.

As thousands of fans took their seats, many wore their backpacks to show their support. Proud fans cheered loudly and slowly took in the gorgeous expanses of their new stadium. In that memorable moment, fans not only saw a new home, but also three significant things repeated over and over: the name “Santana,” the number “57,” and the Delta Air Lines logo on the backs of their fellow fans.



What Delta ignited that day was a real-life earned media explosion, and they used an interesting tactic that will help us with the next wave of social marketing. They captured the essence of what people were talking about and inspired those people to engage with the Delta brand around that conversation.

When marketers first joined the social media party, they saw an opportunity to talk about their brands and their products. Encouraged by the initial buzz created by the ‘Like’ button, marketers proceeded to put on flashy clothes and offer incentives all to attract even more people to ‘Like’ them. They continued to court fans by sending updates via newsfeed posts and waited patiently by the phone for them to “call back” by commenting or liking a post.

This relationship is becoming harder to maintain as consumers mature in their social relationships with brands and social platforms evolve to filter newsfeeds to drive higher engagement. Earned media will become increasingly difficult to secure, and brands will be measured by how engaged people are after the initial ‘Like.’

How do brands continue to earn media and be a part of the social conversation?

  • Start listening to what people are talking about. Once you find the right topic, have a conversation around that topic and eventually highlight where your brand fits in. Ask questions of consumers. By connecting with people around topics other than your brand, they will engage you in conversation, feel that you care about them, and ultimately look forward to hearing from you more often.
  • Content is what people think and talk about. Breaking news, local sports, and nuggets of ‘truth’ about a celebrity are all examples of social content that we discuss with our friends and family – “Did you hear about that?” or “You have to read this!” Most people don’t spend their time thinking and talking specifically about brands – they talk about the world and their world.

A study by found that a small percentage of the people who “Like” brands on Facebook are actually “active.” Social media scientist Dan Zarella studied active Twitter accounts and found that the more an entity tweeted about themselves the less people followed that entity. Brands need to expand the dialogue to what social consumers want to talk about to keep their fans active and to keep the connection alive.

Brands should continue to look for social opportunities around the content consumers are reading and sharing. Find ways to be a part of that dialogue. Add content to your brand pages that spark continued engagement and generate “people talking about” types of discussion. Find your Johan Santana and integrate your brand into those discussions. You’ll find many more consumers willing to sport your brand on their back.

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