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Cirque du Soleil Jessica Berlin on Social Media Marketing

Posted on Nov 24th, 2008
Written by Lee Odden
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    One of the opportunities from speaking at the Pubcon conference in Las Vegas recently was meeting many client side social media marketing practitioners. Jessica Berlin, one of my co-panelists and social media manager from Cirque du Soleil, offered excellent insights into online reputation management and social media. I’ve invited her to take part in our “Social Media Smarts‘ series of interviews with social media marketing practitioners.

    Jess has worked with Cirque du Soleil as a publicist and now as a social media marketing manager. She’s active on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and has received kudos from social media kingmakers like Chris Brogan, who offers an insightful perspective on Jessica as a “trust agent” for Cirque du Soleil and a great story on what to do with 100 bloggers in Las Vegas.

    Please define “social media?”

    Social Media is the capability to interact directly with our potential customers by participating in the conversations they are having about our brand.

    What arguments or business case justifications have you found to be the most effective for investing time, people and other resources into social media engagement?

    Well, the numbers speak for themselves in terms of how many people (of all ages) are using social media on a daily basis. We recognize that traditional advertising and PR is changing and that utilizing social media can be one of the most targeted, low cost means of reaching fans of the Cirque du Soleil brand as well as educating people who have never seen one of our shows.

    With social media we’re able to have a more intimate relationship with our fans which allows us to show them a different side of the Cirque du Soleil they’re used to. We’re now able to give fans access to new experiences by developing special content. We are a premiere entertainment company and know people may only come to our shows on special occasions or vacation. By offering unique content, we are allowing customers to interact with our brand on a more regular basis, hopefully keeping us top of mind.

    How do you decide whether to blog vs setup social networking profiles vs Twitter vs image and video sharing or other social media tactics? What’s your decision making process when it comes to testing and implementing social media engagement efforts with specific tactics?

    Our initial strategy was focused on social networking sites simply because of the number of people already in the space talking about Cirque du Soleil and our shows.

    Since we’re a global company, we chose to focus our efforts on Facebook because of its worldwide popularity. Cirque du Soleil is lucky to have such dedicated and enthusiastic fans. Social networks are a great forum for people to connect and share information about their experiences at our shows. By having a presence there ourselves, we are able to communicate directly with our fans on a unique and personal level. Through our pages we provide exclusive content such as backstage photos and videos, interaction with performers, contests and show updates.

    Twitter has been a great tool to help pull all of our channels together and distribute news about things we’re doing throughout the space.

    As we grow our on-line communities we want to position these outlets as a place customers can rely on to have questions answered, receive special promotions and learn new things about the company.

    What strategies do you use to measure the effectiveness of social media? What metrics make the most impact upstream (C-level) in your organization?

    We monitor and distribute information on the influence, tonality and reach of particular blogs through Buzzlogic but internally our executives still really like seeing particular blog postings as well as the week to week growth of our channels.

    Another thing we look at is how conversations are growing from month to month in blogs, comments, forums, etc. Are there more or fewer on-line conversations happening? We want to know which shows are being mentioned the most/least and for what reasons.

    Do you outsource any social media work and if so, do you have tips for other large company social media marketers for finding and managing consultants?

    We do almost everything in house.

    Can you share an example of how you’ve successfully employed a social media effort and how you measured success? (marketing, online reputation management, branding, etc)

    Our efforts have so far proved to be successful internally and externally. Internally we’re successful because of the team effort developing and maintaining content for our channels. The publicists are the primary content producers and are always looking for interesting things happening at the shows that a fan might want to know about. With Facebook and Twitter, we’re primarily measuring success by continuing to steadily grow our fan numbers as well as the positive feedback we receive from people about the content we are posting.

    For instance, we recently launched an on-line quiz with a widget component ( exclusively through social media and it has been a great success just in terms of the number of people taking the quiz and then word of mouth as a result. This goes back to us showing people can engage with Cirque du Soleil without going to see a show.

    Eventually we will leverage our fan base to spread the word about ticket promotions developed exclusively for these channels. We will monitor the response from the community and track the ticket sales revenue.

    Please share 3-4 resources for staying on top of social media marketing trends and tactics: