Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

MTV’s Brand Is Alive and Well, Thanks to Social Media

It’s no secret that the brand formerly known as “Music Television” hasn’t exactly stuck to its guns. As a network, MTV went from being the foremost purveyor of music videos on broadcast television to being one of the principal outlets of reality television programming. Not exactly a stone’s throw. More of a complete paradigm shift, really.

So, to say that MTV didn’t stick to its guns is a bit of an understatement. In truth, it flat-out abandoned them. That’s not to say it abandoned its only strong suit though.

Far from it, actually.

As it turns out, MTV has quite a talent for online branding. One could argue that it’s their greatest strength. People like to claim that the network has lost its luster in recent years, but the fact of the matter is that MTV has simply chosen to project a different kind of luster – one that exists, for the most part, on the web.

How does MTV keep its brand name going online? Through social media, of course!

Let’s put it this way:

When you’ve got 86 million Facebook fans and 3.2 million Twitter followers, you’re obviously doing something right.

If MTV is using social media as “a platform to make new content” and finding it to be a successful model for developing and promoting the brand name, then it stands to reason that other brands would do well take to take a similar approach.

So, what does MTV’s approach to social media mean for you and your business? Plenty, so long as you’re willing to learn from it.

Here are a few takeaways:

MTV Logo1) Boost Your Level of Output

While MTV’s staggering average of 200-300 stories released via social media on a daily basis is perhaps an unrealistic standard for brands and businesses to aspire to, there’s nothing wrong with setting the bar high. Of course, there are exceptions. If, for example, your brand is still struggling to gain a following across social channels, then it may be wise to exercise a little restraint when it comes to posts and updates by publishing only the most valuable or pertinent information. That way, you won’t overwhelm your current followers or risk losing them.

MTV Logo2) Offer Context

MTV may not showcase music videos any longer, but that’s not stopping the network from providing plenty of background and context for the many popular videos out there. Between the news and the gossip surrounding the music industry (i.e. their industry), they’ve got their hands full keeping tabs on everything. Take a page from MTV’s book and make it your goal to know the ins and outs of your industry or field. That way, you’ll be able to provide just the kind of inside information your fans and followers might be looking for.

MTV Logo3) Keep at It

As mentioned during the interview, success online “doesn’t just happen overnight.” It requires competency and consistency. Every little update, tidbit, news release, and offhand remark that you publish will help to build your online identity, so be sure to keep the content coming. Whether it’s brief posts on your brand’s social channels, blogs on your website, or videos showcasing the many facets of your business, the main thing is to just keep at it. Recognition will come in due time, but the effort has to come first.

While MTV’s identity has changed over the years, the network has certainly managed to maintain its connection with the public. In many ways, the brand is stronger than ever, and social media has played a considerably large part in that.

These days, achieving success means maintaining a social presence, pure and simple. MTV knows it, and so should any other brand currently operating online.

What do you think of MTV’s reliance on social media? Can you think of other brands or businesses that excel in the social realm? Share your thoughts below!

Image credit to the Official MTV Facebook Page


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  1. Mandy Kilinskis

    I’m not a big fan of MTV, but with that many followers, they must be continuing to do something right. I stopped watching the channel once they stopped playing music videos (which was sadly even before social media was a ‘thing’), but the shows and their social media interactions still manage to draw in a large audience. I, thankfully, haven’t seen Teen Mom, or 16 and Pregnant, or Jersey Shore, but I still know the general premise around the shows.

    I think my favorite is tip is “Offer Context.” Even if they don’t play music anymore, they’re still seen as a standard in music news/gossip. Establishing yourself as knowledgeable doesn’t just earn you credibility, but it makes you the go-to brand for this certain knowledge. And that’s a sweet gig to have.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Don’t worry, Mandy, I’m not the biggest fan of MTV these days either. 😉 Not since the late 90s, as a matter of fact. Still, I have to applaud them for their strong presence on social platforms and their willingness to make the absolute most of those platforms.

      Yeah, knowing the ins and outs of your given industry is a huge asset, especially when customers and clients depend on you for such information.

  2. Jill Tooley

    I’d say I’m a pretty big fan of MTV. 😉 My brother and I used to watch music videos a lot! Even though they don’t show videos anymore, I have to commend them for successfully transitioning into what they are now. Jersey Shore and the other shows Mandy mentioned aren’t my thing, but there’s no doubt that they’re crazy popular! So they must be doing something right.

    I didn’t realize they had that much of a social following! You go, MTV. You go.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      A pretty big fan, huh? Nothing wrong with that! Yes, they’ve got quite a following indeed! And truth be told, they’ve earned it. Most of their current programming isn’t for me, but you’re right — you can’t argue with the overwhelming popularity of their shows, not to mention the ubiquity of their news and other forms of online output.

  3. Kyle

    Very interesting read, Joe. It’s a shame MTV is dead to me. Well, except…

    The return of Beavis and Butt-Head! I’m pretty sure the season premiere aired last night, but I didn’t get a chance to see it. I’m not a huge fan or anything, but I’m curious to see how the duo holds up after nearly 20 years. Seeing them take jabs at Jersey Shore and Twilight sounds like a recipe for hilariousness.

    I’m a product of the 90’s. Don’t judge my taste in television. 😛

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Oh yeah, I almost forgot about the triumphant return of Beavis & Butthead! Once upon a time I was quite a fan of the dimwitted duo, so I’m looking forward to seeing the new episodes. The fact that they’ll essentially be acting as pop culture commentators now is a genius move on the part of both Mike Judge and MTV! Way to make the 90s seem current again! 😀

      I could do without most of the shows that the network has to offer these days, but the revamped B&B may just be the show that brings me back to the MTV fold.

  4. david k waltz

    I question the assumption that large amount of followers, likes, etc. = “doing something right”.

    If we are defining right as “the moral or ethical thing to do”, or “holding to one’s principles”, or “staying true to yourself” oftentimes it is in the face of a large (and often hostile) population one must contend with.

    I understand that there is a comfort in running with the herd. I also understand there can be “wisdom of the crowds”. Yet sometimes the majority is simply wrong – an example would be common racial practices in place in the US (especially the south) during the 1920’s. The majority approved, or “liked” in today’s terms, but that does not make it right.

    However, if we are using “right” in the context of developing a profitable and loyal consumer market of sufficient size and scale, then it sounds like MTV is, in fact, doing something right.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Well put, David. I was definitely using the word “right” in the latter context, but I like your overall analysis. And I agree: in many cases, the majority often proves itself wrong.

      For the most part, it’s debatable as to whether MTV is simply trying to appease the majority these days. I’d actually argue that they’re “holding to their principles” as best they can. As the network VP points out in his interview, MTV seeks to give “context” to the happenings of the music industry; they aim to deliver stories that no one else has but that are still centered in the modern music world. In attempting to deliver industry-relevant content, I’d say that they’re remaining somewhat true to their original identity. Though admittedly, they’ve changed a bit.

      Thanks so much for commenting!

  5. Candice J.

    I think that MTV has evolved. Whether its been a positive or negative evolution is really up to its audience and the public. It has evolved with the generation that grew up with it. I know 10-15 years ago i could sit down and watch videos for hours. I’m not sure my lifestyle or attention span would still allow me to do that now. But in reality all networks have evolved in the past 10-20 years, as it should. Society and people are evolving and growing and the media needs to reflect that otherwise they are losing out.

    • Joseph Giorgi

      Great point, Candice. I agree: most networks have evolved over the past decade or two. MTV is an interesting case in that they’ve changed drastically as they’ve evolved, but I think they still play a major role in the modern music industry.

      But yeah — I couldn’t sit and watch music videos for hours on end either. I’m sure most people feel the same way, too. So it’s probably good that the network doesn’t make music videos their focus.

  6. Steven Works

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