It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Engagement at the Speed of Social!

Justin Gardner

SocialPros-header LATEST

Justin Gardner

Justin Gardner, AMC Theaters

Justin Gardner, Social Media Manager at AMC Theatres, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss publicizing content without having to create it, how to balance gender-skewed social media platforms, and how his team uses their freedom to experiment to their advantage.

Read on for some of the highlights and tweetable moments, or listen to the full podcast.

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Tweetable Moments

“The more formal that you get, the less opportunity you’re going to have [to be creative].” -@jpgardner (tweet this)

The Freedom to Experiment

The unique thing about AMC Theatres is that they don’t create the products they show in their theaters; the films they support and promote are created by studios. This affects their social strategy. They mine for content created by fans on Tumblr, and they partner for giveaways with companies like Warner Bros. that will make people really want to engage.

For bigger releases like Man of Steel, they plan content two or three months out. Smaller releases usually take less planning: one or two weeks, rather than months. The lead time allows them to cover red carpet events and interviews. The more assets that the studios give AMC to promote their content, the more they’re able to do so. Primarily, they use Facebook and Twitter, but they also have a daily movie talk show on YouTube that gets a lot of hits. The exciting thing about their YouTube viewership is that it’s primarily male, which helps offset the fact that their Facebook and Twitter engagement is primarily female.

A common theme here on Social Pros is how important it is for management to give the social team the flexibility to make quick decisions. “We get better engagement than our competition, and I think a big part of that is that type of freedom that we have to experiment. And experiment with it in minutes. Not within days.” That’s engagement at the speed of social.

Holy Social!

So far, there have been about 9,000 of these tweets since last Thursday. Zena takes us through the story.


Foursquare needs to increase their revenue, and their most important asset is the massive amount of data they’ve accumulated. They have 30 million users and over 3 billion check-ins to date. With their new feature Time Machine, they’re showing that they can take all that geolocation data and make it even more shareable.

There are three main components to Time Machine: My History is a visual representation of all your past check-ins, The Next Big Thing is recommendations for places you should check out in your area based on your past check-ins, and Share My Stats is the compilations infographic and sharing component that has created all these tweets we’re seeing.

As Jeff points out, there are two sides to this story. There is the Foursquare side, but there is also the Samsung side of the story. Time Machine is sponsored by Samsung, who has been ramping up their advertising and sponsorships efforts recently. Their “Next Big Thing” campaign has been spread across sports, music, and now social media. “Here’s a really innovative marketer who’s using a campaign not just as a slogan that’s stuck at the end of a commercial,” Jeff says, “but really living it in a way that expresses it through data, through social media, through content that they’re providing the customers.”

Social Media Stat of the Week: More Vines shared on Twitter than Instagram Photos

Vine has recently overtaken Instagram in terms of the number of shares going out to Twitter, according to Topsy Analytics. The shift of power came soon after Twitter released an Android version of Vine. Considering the fact that Instagram has been a household name for quite some time, this is truly a milestone for Vine.

It is important to keep in mind, though, that this only accounts for the shares on Twitter, not on Facebook or within the applications themselves, which is where Instagram most likely gets the lion’s share of its traffic. This is especially true after Twitter made it impossible to expand Instagram photos within its platform or any of its apps; it’s possible that Instagram users just aren’t tweeting their Instagrams anymore but are sharing them elsewhere instead.

There were rumors that Facebook was going to make a big product announcement, so Jeff and Zena posited during the taping of Social Pros earlier this week that it could have to do with Instagram adding a video component. “To me, it’s just a natural evolution,” Zena says. “I’m thrilled.”

They were absolutely right: Facebook is adding a video component to Instagram. It will be interesting to see the continued competition between Twitter and Facebook and the apps they’ve acquired.

Four Your Information

How did you get involved in social media?
Justin’s background is in advertising copywriting. His first “real job” was at an advertising agency, where he followed the emerging viral videos (this was before unified platforms like YouTube existed to host video content). Then he moved onto creating videos for a start-up. It was at AMC that he started to suggest serious social strategies and then execute them.

What do you like best about social media?
“I like that it is something new every day.” He enjoys the immediate feedback; it’s very gratifying.

What do you like least about social media?
He dislikes the attitude that social media is free or easy. “I see folks who can call themselves social media professionals and social media gurus around who don’t seem to necessarily grasp that.”

If you could do a Skype call with any living person, who might that be and why?
James Cameron. “He’s such an innovator… he’s tapped into something that’s a global story, time and time again. And he doesn’t let things like technology get in his way.”

See you next week!

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