Q&A: Audi’s Social Chief Talks Hashtags and the Power of Twitter

from AdWeek:

Ten percent of Americans use Twitter, but a whopping 43 percent say they hear Twitter mentioned “almost every day,” according to new data from Edison Research. A big reason for Twitter’s visibility is the prevalence of hashtags on TV, including in ads. Luxury automaker Audi has been an early, frequent and successful player in the hashtag space, so we asked the brand’s senior social-media manager, Andy White, about why it’s worth investing so much energy in a social network that 90 percent of Americans aren’t even using. For his take on the past two Super Bowls and how Audi turned one fan’s comment into one of Twitter’s most successful hashtag campaigns, check out the Q&A after the jump.

Q: In 2011, Audi was the first brand to use a Super Bowl ad hashtag, #ProgressIs. In 2012, it used #SoLongVampires. What were the metrics of success for these campaigns? Were there any results you didn’t anticipate?

A: We had multiple metrics for social going into the event—such as YouTube views, Facebook activity, crack the top 5 in the Facebook/USA Today Ad Meter, etc.—but our key metric for the hashtag (outside of a baseline number of mentions) was simple: Curate and cultivate real-time dialogue and conversation. From that foundation, multiple metrics/wins arose that we could never have planned for, such as becoming the most-mentioned hashtag of the Super Bowl, and generating four globally trending topics.

Q: Many brands are reluctant to use hashtags in ads because they’re afraid to dilute their call to action and would rather feature a website. Is a hashtag a strong enough call to action to stand alone?

A: For us, this was never a discussion; it was always the hashtag. The Super Bowl is [about] conversation and engaging in naturally forming dialogues that arise from a thought starter, which in our case was the hashtag on the spot.

We take the opinion that it’s not natural for viewers to be directed to a URL while sitting and watching the No. 1 cultural event of the year. This is a social event, and viewers are being social. They’re tweeting and checking in in record numbers, year over year. We have found that audiences are receptive to social overtures, and social is increasingly becoming a very natural CTA.

With such a huge broadcast, this may be a viewer’s first-ever touchpoint with Audi. We treat that first touchpoint as just one step on a very long purchase funnel that may result in a car purchase—or it may result in a new aspirational fan, one that will take our future messaging and run with it to their own social graphs. Both of these goals are our social holy grails.

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