Few brands are more watched and scrutinized for their every marketing move than the empire of Disney. So when they began to embrace the power of the “mom blogger” very early on, everyone from industry observers to bloggers themselves sat up and took notice.
Disney has been actively engaging with this sector of the digital world since 2007, when they launched the Moms Panel, a group of bloggers and brand experts who answer questions and give advice to consumers online. (Disclosure: I’ve been active in this group for several years as a blogger whom the Disney team regards as – and treats like – a member of the press.) Not long after, Disney began to stimulate content generation from their parks, engaging local bloggers to make media trips and treating them to exclusive first-look experiences. Disney went in full steam, acknowledging that social publishers were valuable as both a collective broadcast channel and as individual peer influencers.
So when the entertainment giant created the invite-only Disney Social Media Moms Conference in 2010, it came as no surprise to those who had been watching their love of digital unfold. Last weekend was the third conference, which included a day of heavy-hitting social media speakers, an exclusive after-hours private party inside the Animal Kingdom, first looks at the new Animation Resort, and more. This was a ‘soft pitch’ media event that held off on the constant brand messaging, functioning more as a perk and reward for Disney’s most loyal brand advocates.
As a location-based destination brand, bringing bloggers to a Disney property for experiences provides exposure, giving Disney a tangible conversation that influencers can promote authentically. Content creation is the driving force behind Disney’s on-the-ground activations. After all, you can’t exactly mail samples of the Disney vacation experience to bloggers.
Not sure of the rationale behind the expense and effort of this conference – which allows these VIP attendees to bring their entire family with them (and gives lots of park passes, and Fastpasses for all)? Look no further than the social media output as a result of this year’s conference. Nearly every attendee wrote about the conference on their sites prior to the event, and likely will offer numerous recaps after. As at most socially shareable events, a succinct hashtag (#DisneySMmoms) was created and shared with attendees; here’s a visual summary of the conversation generated across social platforms (click image for full-size version):
What is the benefit to Disney for going to the trouble of planning for (and spending on) these selected 175 individuals? Impressions and engagement, not necessarily in that order. Collectively, the attendees at the 2012 Disney Social Media Moms conference represent more than 15 million followers/subscribers through all their social media channels (blog, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, etc.). With that reach, and the engagement they can drive through “likes,” comments, and content sharing, it’s a smart investment in influencers who can act as some of the brand’s most effective word-of-mouth promoters.
More brands would be wise to follow Disney’s lead, creating experiences that leave their most vocal fans with content-generating memories. All of this activity further embeds the brand into these influencers’ lives, with accompanying social amplification to their personal networks. Now the Disney tagline – “Let the memories begin” – takes on new meaning. With this event it might be better to say: “Let the advocacy begin.”
Note: Marcy Massura, in addition to being a Digital Supervisor at Weber Shandwick, has been working with Disney since 2008 as a blogger and has been given access to many press and media events free of charge.