news from the intersection of branding & technology

MTV’s Very Real McCoy

In Video, Movies & Television on October 19, 2010 at 3:26 am

by Jeff Sandgren

There are two possible explanations for the sudden success of MTV’s Social Media Manager, Jenny McCoy.  Only one of them is supernatural.  Supporting evidence for the ‘good witch’ theory includes the story of how she got the job.  Jenny is a recent graduate of Florida Institute of Technology.  FIT this year made the Forbes list of America’s Best Colleges, but it is not exactly a power-house name in field of Marketing Communications.  Yet somehow with a serendipitous interview she landed a way cool job.

Then there’s the Bewitched nose.  Jenny isn’t old enough to have ever seen the old TV series, much less Elizabeth Montgomery’s trademark nose wiggle whenever she evoked a bit of ‘white witchcraft’ – but Jenny’s got the move down pat, quite unconsciously.  When I interviewed her, there were two or three times when I thought she might suddenly pop off-screen.

The second theory – OK, the only real theory – is that she’s a Social Media Savant who seizes the initiative like a pit bull.  I’ve sat through countless webinars and whitepapers on social media marketing; but I learned more real practical advice in one hour with Jenny McCoy.  Excepts follow. Decide for yourself.

What websites helped you get started?

“I started following these blogs about blogging. has always been a favorite, and TechCrunch. was the most influential.   Darren does a lot of really useful articles, very open to guest posts. So you get all these other awesome tips from other bloggers.  That’s when I hopped on Twitter, as a means of blog marketing and meeting new people.”

How often do you blog?

“I used to do 2 or 3 a week, but it’s been harder since I got up to NY, working until 7 or later every night.  Right now I do about 1 a week, but I have to get better.

“We have a News Team on Twitter, and I help get the reporters into social media.  They’re out there talking to all these awesome people all the time.  You can get a little numb to that.  You don’t realize how awesome that is to everyone else.  So I help get that out, getting opportunities for MTV News.”

What do you use to track all these?

“Hootsuite has been my favorite so far.  For personal account, I just go to and use the lists.  My personal account philosophy is that anyone who has a real account and says semi-interesting things, I follow.  I follow about 700 people, and I’m followed by about 1,000, so without lists it’s practically impossible to manage – not to be rude about it – people I actually want to track.  Hootsuite lets you see how many people are clicking on links, makes it a lot easier to tag people. It remembers tags.

“Learning from it is the most important part.  You can pull all this data, and you can analyze that; but the fact that you’re sitting there seeing every reaction all day gives you the instincts.  If I had time, I could write thirty pages on what I’ve already learned.  What gives you certain reactions, what gets you the clicks.  You learn by doing, how your audience reacts.”

So what tips can you share with our readers?

“Here’s one: if you start a Tweet with an @mention, with someone’s user name, only the people that are following both of you see that Tweet.  I see this all the time.  People are trying to construct a sentence – companies that are trying to encourage people to retweet them, their point is that they want lots of people to see that Tweet.  But only some who follows the person they mention, and are also their own followers, are going to see it.

“Hash-tags are good, and @’s can be good, too, as long as you don’t start with that. Putting a period in front of the @ is an easy way to get around that, or you just start with a period, then do the @mention.  I’ve seen people do that.  It’s … well … kind of the cheap way to do it.  Better to just reword the sentence.

“If someone sends me an @mention, I reply to that; I reply to everything like that.  And there are some people who feel differently about that.  I call them ‘Twitter Elitists’.  They won’t follow people back, they won’t reply to @mentions.  I don’t know why they’re even on Twitter.”

What about Facebook?

“What I really like about their ad model is that you can basically see how much you paid for each new fan you got.  When you think about how much that fan gives you back over the lifetime of their being a fan, and the cost is less than a dollar a fan, you know they’re worth far more than that.

What should BrandTech News be doing?

“There’s all kinds of chats on Twitter – get in the conversation.  I find those immensely helpful to getting new followers and meeting interesting people.  One of the important things in reaching out to people on Twitter is that your first interaction isn’t asking for anything.  There are so many people on Twitter doing that – they really don’t get it.  You need to be genuine and join the conversation.

“The best way to meet people is probably just to follow them and stay with it.  When they say something, and you can say something actually interesting or funny in response, usually they’ll follow you back.  And then you have at least a start.  After a while, they’ll probably be asking what you do.”

What about Linked-In?

“I’m not big on Linked-In.  It’s just an extra step for me right now.  Most of the people I connect with there, I already know.  I think it’s important, and I probably should pay attention to it.  The last time you want to start getting active on Linked-In is when you’re hungry for a job and need something.  It’s the same principle as Twitter – it creates a bad first impression.”

What’s the next big thing in social media?

“It’s hard to tell.  When anything new comes out, everyone’s quick to call it a fad.  But look at Facebook, we know that’s here to stay.  They’ve created a lot of value in their network.  Twitter is also very relevant, so it’s here to stay.  Foursquare’s fine, I enjoy that sometimes, but I’m not huge on it.  I think I’m still the Mayor of my old job. I became the Mayor of my local Dunkin Donuts for a while.”

Give us some tips about your generation

“I’m Gen Y.  We entered the workforce … in a different way.  We have this distrust for the 9 to 5, this weird disgruntled but entrepreneurial vibe.  And even when you’re completely happy, it’s like: what’s next, what’s next?

What’s been a high point for you so far?

“The best day of my career there so far was when Justin Bieber retweeted us.  That just set the world on fire.”

What lies ahead for MTV, socially?

“At the start, everyone’s concerned with numbers.  Getting more followers is great, but it’s just a first step.    But now it’s more of a focus on what are we getting from those followers, where are those followers?   I don’t just want to see how many Tweets; I want to understand the context for each jump, each Tweet.  That’s just invaluable.

“We have a good amount of followers, so now my goal is to shape them into this awesome network. I like Seth Godin’s book “Tribes”.  That’s what I’m trying to do now.  It’s better to have 3,000 passionate people than 100,000 who might not really care.”

MAKE JENNY’S DAY: follow her at!/mtvnews

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