The Dictator

Ideas February 29, 2012 1:11 pm

By this time, you’ve most likely seen the clip of ‘the Dictator’ spilling fake ashes on Ryan Seacrest. According to Twitter, it was one of the most-tweeted about Oscar moments:

The moment caused a splash on Sunday, but from an advertiser’s point of view, is this important? The majority of the Social Media infographics I’ve seen for the Oscars (and for events in general) highlight the ‘most tweeted about moment’ or the ‘greatest tweets per second.’ These stats indicate the moment in time when the social audience was most engaged. No doubt these stats are important- for an advertiser or programmer, these moments are an indication of what immediately resonated with the social audience (or the focus group in the wild as I’ve heard the social audience be called). But from an overall campaign standpoint, how valuable is one spike in social media activity for an advertiser?

Instead of looking at one isolated spike in social media chatter, I think there is a lot to be said about the value of continuous, sustained chatter. How many people are still talking about an advertisement or brand a day, a week, or even a month later? And how can advertisers use the spike in chatter to help foster increased chatter? Let’s use The Dictator’s appearance at the Oscars as an example:

Sacha Baron Cohen and The Dictator caused an uproar even before the Oscars began, after Cohen was reportedly banned and then un-banned from attending the event in Dictator character. Cohen then caused a scene on the red carpet while in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, but even after he was escorted away by security, Cohen continued to cause waves– Ryan Seacrest couldn’t stop talking about incident. (I was watching- Ryan mentioned the incident to every.other.celebrity.he.talked.to.that.night). Then his E! counterparts started talking about the incident. And now? Now 3 days later the official E! video of the incident on YouTube has over 5.5M views, there are multiple pages on E! devoted to the incident, and a simple search on Google reveals that many, many other outlets have devoted coverage to moment. And I’m willing to bet The Soup will have something to say about it!

Looking at the one spike in social media chatter wouldn’t tell the full story of possible impact the brand had with the audience- looking at the lasting social media chatter, especially days after the event occurred, would give a better indication of impact for The Dictator or advertisers. The longer someone talks about an advertisement or event, the more likely they are to remember it. And the more advertisers are willing to learn from social media chatter, the more they can help keep the ad/brand top of mind with consumers.

When looking at sustained conversation, advertisers need to ask questions like: Are people still talking about the ad? How long after? Where are they talking about the ad? What are they saying about the ad? Who is talking about the ad- where do they live, how old are they, what’s their ethnicity? These are all questions advertisers could use to a) continue fostering conversation by ‘planting’ conversation starters based on previous themes and b) plan future ad placements, based on what outlets are covering the ad and the demographics of people talking about the ad.

In the case of The Dictator, I’d be curious to see a social media infographic of chatter before the Oscars, during the Oscars, and now– until the movie’s premiere. How will Cohen, who is admittedly brilliant at pulling off pr stunts, (putting away the question of taste aside) continue to engage his audience before the premiere? And how can advertisers learn from The Dictator to continue to foster engagement with the social audience, and look beyond isolated spikes in social media chatter?

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