A version of this presentation was given by Andrew Bowins, SVP of External Communications at MasterCard, during Percolate’s Customer Summit last week.
About two years ago, MasterCard was looking at about 32 million potential brand exposures from issuers, merchants, and MasterCard itself, but only owned about 1% of the conversation – people actually engaging with the brand. Even more alarming was that 0.5% of that 1% was people talking about things relevant to MasterCard.
To be more relevant in this new environment, MasterCard needed to shift their approach to content. Brand newsrooms are something that you hear increasingly about in the industry, where brands mirror the way media organizations operate. With the launch of the Mastercard Newsroom, the brand hoped to increase their share of voice against competitors while being able to articulate their unique position as a payments company.
MasterCard has implemented the Conversation Suite, which you can see here, putting technology at the center of their real-time approach. It was critical that to build an open and adaptive environment that was mobile-ready and future-proof, and that they operationalize the Newsroom approach from the very start.
You can be more innovative than your competitors, but that’s only going to get you so far. To compete with some competitors that have very strong brands, MasterCard needed to have an emotional, culturally relevant perspective with all the content they are creating. The goal with Newsroom was to change this through an innovative approach to digital marketing.
With tech as the backbone, the success at MasterCard has also been driven by creating a culture of listening at the organization, and giving employees the tools to take action. It’s not just about getting a social media presence established, you have to create the need to listen and understand what your consumers are saying about your brand.
Traditionally, listening online has been about listening to what your customers are saying about the brand. This listening is critical for all sorts of key metrics, but most of the time it isn’t going to make you more interesting and relevant to people that may not already have you in their consideration set.
As the cliché goes, “we were given two ears and one mouth so you should listen twice as much before you speak” – listen to understand what people are saying, but use that to inform what you say.
So with the idea that you need to listen to understand, you still need to produce to be relevant. Rather than close off in a room and listen in a traditional sense to what was happening, MasterCard has been listening around the category and then bringing the brand’s story into those conversations.
The goal was to earn the credibility to speak to these communities around the vision for a world beyond cash and the value digital payments provide.
Here you see the MasterCard Newsroom, projects powered by Percolate. The purpose of the new site is to encourage more engagement, promote visual storytelling, and allow for more digital content that can be created, shared and published real time.
The Newsroom is set up to prompt employees to create content based on a smart understanding of what their consumers are passionate about. A world where as a marketer, where we no longer buy boxes on a webpage, but are expected to created alongside consumers in real time.
The framework of ‘listen to understand/produce to be relevant’ doesn’t end there. Content production is cyclical, and there’s a great desire to take what you can learn from the past and apply it to future content creation. Listen, Test, Learn, and then Innovate in the future.
With this approach, great brands aren’t limited by past opinions; they can build, create, and inspire new thoughts. Don’t take analytics as a warehouse of knowledge – MasterCard was very mindful to not allow the newsroom to turn into a place where we analyze past performance.
MasterCard has a team of 60 people in 43 markets and 26 languages who create content following a style guide created by the newsroom. Traffic to its sites is up 35% since January, and in the last six months, 135,000 people engaged directly with the content, generating 500,000 conversations and shares.
As mentioned earlier – 2 years ago, we had 32 million potential brand exposures, but only 1% of the conversation. Now, MasterCard is looking at 1.3 billion brand exposures.
Over 560,000 people around the world are now taking the time to create conversation streams about the brand.
The purpose of these numbers isn’t to invest in social for its own sake – MasterCard is looking to take the organization to a place where big data meets traditional storytelling and frame social in business terms.
We have to rethink how we communicate in order to deal with the new world of marketing. The MasterCard Newsroom has been a success as a System of listening, creating, and learning. When you combine this new approach with amazing employees and great technology, you open your brand to entirely new possibilities.
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