What NOT Having Lunch with Ellen DeGeneres Taught Me About Social Media

Social Media Marketing


I love social media.

I love Twitter. I love Facebook. I love Instagram. I (sort of) love Vine. Google+ is fun. Heck, I even have a Pinterest account. I love the social aspect of social media. For me, the ability to connect with other human beings is the best part.

Marketo also loves social media, but not necessarily for the same reasons I do. At Marketo, we love how social media allows us to get closer to our customers, prospects, fans, and advocates. In fact, at Marketo we use social media to make every campaign social. We love that we can have a bit of fun with campaigns like #LeadGenProbs (watch the awesome video here) and #MarketoBUZZ. We love that we can easily share new, valuable content with our community. Whether it’s on the Marketo Twitter channel or on our Facebook page, we do our best to engage/reply to those who engage with us.

But while all of that is important, it’s certainly not our number one objective with social. For Marketo, social media is a lead generation machine. In fact, we’ve found that overall, Facebook is our biggest social media channel for lead generation. The ability to embed forms directly into Facebook tabs – like this one for our new Definitive Guide to Lead Generation – is huge. We also use the Lead Generation Cards which Twitter released over the Summer of 2013 (details here), as well as Facebook Ads to build our funnel.

But this post isn’t about my infatuation with social media. Nor is it about what we do here at Marketo. In all honesty, it’s not really even about Ellen DeGeneres.

Instead, it’s about how Ellen DeGeneres (and her team) use social media. SPOILER ALERT: She doesn’t use it the same way that Marketo does, or that I do.

90 Days To Ellen

The backstory: Over the summer, my friend Bryan Kramer and I launched 90 Days To Ellen, a 3-month experiment to see if we could use social media to land a lunch date with Ellen DeGeneres (and raise some money for a good cause along the way). Over the course of the 90-day campaign, we did everything in our power to use social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, blog posts, and so on – to connect with Ellen and her team.

With the help of our friends and followers, we created nearly 50 “Why Should Ellen Have Lunch with Bryan and DJ?” videos. We provided a forum for our community to submit ideas. We even held open auditions to find an Ellen “stand-in” in case we didn’t hear from Ellen (see videos on Days 83, 84, 88, and 89 here).

2,160 hours. 129,600 minutes. 7,776,000 seconds. Over 66 million impressions on Twitter alone.

And nothing.

Not a single “nibble” from Ellen. Not a Twitter reply. Not a Facebook comment. Not a direct/private message. No email, phone call, or fax. NOTHING. But was our campaign a failure? In our opinions, no. Here’s why:

Everyone Uses Social Media Differently

Some people think of social channels as a way to push content, or to tell the world how awesome your company/service is. Others use it for personal and/or networking reasons. Still others find a balance between our personal interests (social) and business objectives (media).

So what’s the best way, or the correct way to use social media?

Heck if I know.

And even if I did have the answer, it’s not really my place to tell you how to use any channel. As I often say about email marketing, “best practices” are those that are best for your audience. What works for your company may not work for mine. Your goals and objectives may be different than mine.

  • I use social media to share content, build relationships, and learn from others.
  • Marketo uses social media to learn from prospects and customers, to connect with our community, and for lead gen!
  • Ellen (as I now know) uses social to tweet at other celebrities and friends, share content about her show (and herself), and to post funny stuff.

Selfishly, I wish Ellen and her team used social to communicate with fans. I wish they – or someone – had replied to our campaign. First of all, I wanted to prove our hypothesis – that two non-celebrity guys could use social media to attract Ellen’s attention and help fight hunger in America. I also just wanted to have lunch with Ellen!

But while we were certainly bummed that we didn’t land lunch, our goal wasn’t to have lunch — it was to experiment with the powers of social media. We raised money for Feeding America, we made new friends, and built new business relationships. In that way, we accomplished our goals.

When you’re figuring out your own social strategy, I urge you to start by defining your goals. Again, these can range from awareness to relationship building to lead generation – or some combination of all three. If your biggest concern is getting your message out there, you might (like Ellen) disappoint a few members of your base. However, if you’re using social to build genuine relationships, understand your prospects and customers, and/or generate leads, listening is critical.

So ask yourself these questions: How do you “do” social? Are you using it to listen, or to be heard?

And Ellen, if you’re reading: Want to have lunch?