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A Look Inside AOL’s Social Media Strategy

As AOL continues to evolve its product offerings and business model, the company is also evolving its social media strategy.

Matthew Knell, director of social media at AOL, was one of the featured speakers at the Community Manager Meetup, which took place this past Tuesday evening in New York. Knell is an experienced digital media strategist who also knows how to code (i.e. he can build things, too). His career has taken him from large companies such as JetBlue and MTV to start-ups such as CafeMom.

“AOL is a lot of things to some people, and nothing to others,” said Knell during the start of his interview with Katy Zack, PR manager for SapientNitro. “It’s an umbrella of brands, and is a lot like a TV network.”

Knell touched on a variety of topics during the interview, some of which touched on the philosophy he and his team bring to AOL’s social media strategy. For example, like many digital marketing executives, Knell is a bit tired of the focus on “influencers.”

“The influencer graph is overrated,” he said. “It’s too top-heavy.” Instead, companies of all kinds should focus on creating good content and headlines. “Having good, click-able content is a priority over who tweets it,” said Knell.

In agreement with AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, Knell emphasized that social media in many ways is “distribution” for AOL’s content, but that the brand also values engagement. “AOL measures success by clicks, but they value engagement too. On Facebook we view clicks, comments, and likes the same,” he said. “A lot of what we’ve been doing is trying to figure out how to market our products via social media.”

There was a lot more discussed during Knell’s interview. For more observations, view the hashtag #CMmeetup.

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