How to be The Kick-Ass Mentor Your New Intern Needs


I love internships in such a nerdy way that I had six different ones in my three and a half years as a student at SUNY Fredonia. My last internship, which was here at Quinlan, helped me land a full-time position with the company about a year ago. Since then, I’ve worked with a couple of interns — and for the first time, I was able to see the intern/supervisor relationship from the other side.

This made me wonder, what makes a great mentor? Can just anyone assume the role? How much time and how many resources do you really need to make it work? I’ve learned a ton from the men and women who had supervised me in the past, but I had never really thought about the implications of their role (since I was too focused on my own responsibilities).

The National Association of Colleges and Employer found that 65 percent of bachelor’s degree graduates from the class of 2015 participated in an internship. That’s a lot of internships! With so many opportunities for students to learn, how can you be a mentor that really makes a difference?

To learn more about how to be the kick-ass supervisor I hope to someday be, I spoke with two of Quinlan’s directors who, collectively, have managed dozens of interns over the years (they kind of know what they’re talking about).

Mentoring tips from the Buffalo marketing agency you know and love:

Buffalo marketing agency

Make sure you’ve covered all your bases.

Because if you don’t have your shit together, how can you expect the same from a student? Before deciding if you are going to take on an intern, take the time to look at your current work environment.

  • Are your own responsibilities organized?
  • Can you spare a chunk of time every day (or a few times a week) to devote entirely to a student?
  • Do your co-workers like the idea of adding some extra weight to the team?
  • Is upper management supportive of you using company time to give back?


And let’s just be clear — you shouldn’t hire an unpaid intern just to take advantage of some free labor. In fact, according to the United States Supreme Court, the internship experience is for the benefit of the intern. That means the intern does not displace regular employees, but works under close supervision of existing staff.

Take the application process seriously.

Once you’ve decided to hire an intern, you’ll need to establish a solid application process. You’ll be spending (roughly) three months with this individual, it’s okay to be a little picky. So, how can you tell if an intern will be worth your time? Take note of how she portrays herself. A few things to consider:

  • Is she diligent? An enthusiastic student will answer your interview emails right away, following up with dates and times she is available to meet.
  • Can she communicate well? Don’t get me wrong here, this doesn’t mean you should favor extroverts exclusively. She should, though, be able to communicate her thoughts clearly and accurately.
  • Does her work speak for itself? Ask for a few work samples to see her skill level. It’s only natural that her work won’t be perfect, but is it a reasonable starting point?
  • Are others willing to speak on her behalf? Even a first-time interviewee should have co-workers, professors or advisors willing to brag a little bit about her.


“Some people want all-stars, which is nice,” Quinlan’s Account Director Jessica Chapman says, “but personally, I like to look for people who work hard, want to learn and are prepared for the interview. Since this internship may be someone’s first shot at work experience, give them a chance. Look at the individual, not just the resume.”

Get everyone on the same page.

“An interview is a great time to have a conversation about what an intern wants to learn,” Quinlan’s Creative Director Frank Conjerti says. “Then when you accept your intern, you can talk more about their focuses and mold an internship that fills their experience gaps. This will allow you to create your objectives, and also hit any requirements the school has.”

Once you’ve worked together to determine the internship’s general goals, create a specific program that’s ready to be implemented on her first day. This should include a plan for her roles and any project guidelines and specific deadlines (if necessary). You can always change things up as the internship goes on, but having solid plan in place will give everyone peace of mind.

“Make sure their list of fundamental responsibilities and project expectations are clear from the start,” Jessica says. “This way, they can let you know if they want to get into something else.”

buffalo intern

Give her creative leeway, even if it means leaving your comfort zone.

You’re obviously well-versed in your field, otherwise students wouldn’t be coming to you for guidance. While it’s true your years of experience have taught you how to excel at your position, your intern’s own background may guide her to do things a little differently. Let her.

“When you assign them something, give them enough information to understand the task,” Jessica says, “but let them complete it how they want. There isn’t just one way of doing something. Let them do their thing, and then meet about it to make sure they’re on track.”

Of course, this does not mean you give her an assignment and then wait until she’s completed it to intervene.

“Check in with them a couple of times day,” Frank says. “I like to talk to them at least once in the morning, mid-day and as they are leaving. This way, I can be more hands-on and catch any mistakes they may not know they’re making.”

Treat her as a valued team member.

Jumping into a new business environment can be scary, so ease her fear by introducing her to everyone in the office (especially people outside of your department) on her first day. This way, when she needs help from the IT guy, she’ll be confident reaching out to him.

“Involve them in things right from the start,” Frank says. “Invite them into meetings, bring them into conversations and listen to their opinions. Interns offer a new outlook. You can benefit from listening to them.”

And this should go without saying — but give her real work that matters. Anyone can make coffee, but trusting her with actual responsibilities will show her you value her skills the time she’s spending with your company. Be careful, though, not to forget that she doesn’t have the experience the rest of the team has.

“Don’t assume anything!” Jessica says. “Always remember to start with the basics. They most likely have no idea how an agency or a business functions, so make sure to slow down and explain it all to them. The same goes for business jargon or acronyms. If you’re going to use industry slang, explain what it means.”

Be honest with her.

Some interns may excel right from the start, but you may find she struggles with tasks you thought were reasonable for her skill level. That’s okay.

“Sometimes you have to be more specific with your direction,” Jessica says. “Be constructive, and don’t be afraid to address the situation honestly.”

Before things get too out of hand, sit down and meet with her to see what’s going wrong. Is she struggling to complete your tasks? Is she confused about what you want her to do? Does she need help understanding the technology she has to use? Communicating honestly with her will help you give worthwhile criticism.


Give her something to brag about.

She already knows the fundamentals of her field — that’s what college is for, right? A passionate intern will want to get a taste of real life roles, how to respond to day-to-day tasks and responsibilities and how to act in a professional setting.

And it doesn’t hurt to have a little fun, too! Invite her to luncheons, happy hours and industry events. Also, don’t forget to ask her about non-work topics, like how school is going (that is her priority, after all). Being flexible and moving her internship presentation to a different week because you found out she had an exam the same day will mean a lot to her.

“Ideally, our interns are able to walk away with an experience at an awesome, smart place,” Frank says. “By the end of the internship, they’ll hopefully have new connections, as much client work experience as they can and the ability and confidence to land a job.”

Most importantly, don’t forget to stay in touch. Add her on LinkedIn, and check in via email a few times a year to see how she’s doing. Just because the internship ends doesn’t mean you have to quit being her mentor. Hey, you never know — she’s going to enter the field, and you two may be working together some day!

Have something to add?

Do you have any mentoring techniques that work well for you? I’d love to hear them. Tweet me at @quinlancompany or @gracegerass.

Meet our 2016 Content Marketing Intern, Kristen Cavalleri


Meet Kristen Cavalleri, Quinlan’s newest content marketing intern.

Kristen’s responsibilities will include assisting the content marketing team with day-to-day tasks, receiving her HubSpot Certification in inbound marketing and familiarizing herself with SEO best practices and influencer research in preparation for writing blogs for our clients. Kristen will also be researching key publications, websites and industries for guest blog post opportunities for our clients.

We are placing a big emphasis on influencer outreach in 2016. According to Huffington Post’s article on influencer marketing, influencer marketing will surpass TV as the most effective advertising medium.

With that being said, Kristen will be an important asset to the content team as she dives deeper into the process of link building and influencer outreach.



About Kristen Cavalleri

Kristen is currently a senior at Niagara University studying communications.

In her spare time, after interning and studying for school, Kristen enjoys watching old films.

“I absolutely love watching old movies,” Kristen explains. “I enjoy watching Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I think it’s cool to take a look into the past and see where we came from and how it’s gotten us to where we are today.”

Kristen previously held an account service internship. She hopes Quinlan can help her explore other facets of the advertising industry.

“This internship will allow me to combine the planning experience I have in account service with the execution and creative side of content marketing,” Kristen says.

After her internship with Quinlan, Kristen plans to jumpstart her career right here in Buffalo.

“I hope to graduate college and find a job in the area,” Kristen notes. “I also love to travel, so I’m hoping to have the opportunity to visit some more places throughout Europe in the next few years. I really love Buffalo, so for now I’m planning on staying close to home and seeing what the future has to offer.”

Welcome to the team, Kristen!

Interested in an internship with Quinlan? Be sure to contact us or tweet us at @QuinlanCompany.

Google Adwords for Dummies: What You Need to Know


I won’t ask why you’re a newbie to pay-per-click advertising, or PPC. Perhaps you prefer traditional marketing tactics over the digital sphere. Maybe you’re working with a limited budget and don’t think you can spare the extra cost to get your ads out there. Maybe you told your boss that you’d get moving on this a year ago but you didn’t have the slightest clue where to begin.

Regardless of your excuse, slacker, it’s 2016. Digital marketing rules the land. It’s time to dive into the world of Google Adwords — the biggest fish in the PPC sea.

Google Adwords 101: How it works


Google AdWords is an online advertising platform that lets you reach new customers and grow your business. You can choose where your ad appears, set a reasonable budget and measure the impact of your ad.  

“Pay-per-click is probably one of the best resources you have to measure what’s working and what is not because it comes equipped with plenty of metrics that do that task for you,” notes John Rampton, blogging expert and #3 on Entrepreneur Magazine’s Top 50 Online Influencers in the World. “By using the right keywords for your target audience, you’re already ahead because you’re reaching people who have an interest in your product or service.”

As an Adwords user, you’ll set up your campaign based off of your website, specific landing page or ecommerce page. You’ll then create a list of important keywords and phrases that your potential customers are likely to use, and your business will appear above the organic results when someone searches for terms related to your product or service.

For example: I’m getting married this year (cue horror music) and need to find a florist. I type in “wedding florist,” in Google and see a relevant ad come up in my search:

Florist Ad

Not only is this florist located near me, but it’s offering 45 percent off and free delivery. Score. I clicked on the ad, visited the site, found what I needed and requested a quote.

This ad definitely served its user (me) for several reasons:

  • The keyword “florist,” is in the headline, website AND ad description.
  • There’s a strong call to action: Save 45% today and get free delivery.
  • The ad led to a relevant landing page where I could find an answer to my search.

Bravo, Ava’s East Aurora Florist. I give you a 10/10. Maybe 11/10 for that touch of alliteration.

Let’s talk lingo: The Adwords Term Guide

In order to manage, analyze and report within the platform, you need to learn to talk the talk. Let’s review some Adwords terms:


Words or phrases you choose to set up your Adwords campaign. There are four types of keywords: exact match, phrase match, broad match and broad match modifier. Note: these work best as specific, long-tailed keywords, such as: “fresh flower delivery” instead of “flowers.” Broad, unspecific keywords result in irrelevant traffic and wasted money (bossman will not appreciate that).

Contains one or more shared set of keywords. For example, a campaign for an outdoor store might have the following ad groups: camping, hiking and fishing. Each ad group would have its own set of relevant keywords and ads. This is necessary so that when somebody searches “winter hiking gear,” they will receive an ad talking about specific hiking accessories.


This is made up of all your ad groups and keywords. You can run multiple campaigns from Adwords, and it will be the first step in the setup of your account.


According to the user’s search, ads will appear above (and to the right) of the organic results. You’ll need a headline, two 35-character lines of descriptive text, a display URL and a destination URL. The best ads use the customer’s unique selling point (USP), a call to action and strong keywords.


The position or order in which your ad shows up on a search. This is based on your bid, quality score and landing page experience. Any position of 1-3 is ideal. If you’re looking at an awful ad position, don’t fret — see if you can increase your bid or improve the quality of your ad.


The dollar amount that is the most you will pay for a click on your ad. You can set these manually or automatically, based on your budget.


Your click-thru rate is an important metric in your platform. It measures how many people who have seen your ad click through to your destination URL. Life tip: don’t have a crappy CTR.


How you set your bid type to pay for viewer interaction with your ads. You’ll have several options within Adwords to choose from.


In each of your ads, you will be asked to enter a display URL in addition to your destination URL. It’s important to keep this simple and clean to increase your brand recognition and trust. Stop it with those backslashes.


Tracks every lead made within your conversion window after an Adwords click. Set this up under the “Tools” section at the top of the campaigns tab.


This is a test. If you have to scroll up to check, congratulations: you’ve failed.

Step right up: It’s time to auction

Adwords uses cost-per-click (CPC) bidding. In CPC, you’re only charged when someone clicks your ad — NOT when your ad simply appears as a search result, or what’s commonly known as an “impression.” The best part? There’s no minimum spending commitment, and you can have as many keywords as your little heart desires.

In setting up your campaign, you have to decide on your maximum CPC — that is, how much you’re willing to pay for a click on your ad. Oftentimes, you are charged less. Decide what you’d like to spend monthly, and Adwords will never exceed that amount. (If only we had a systems like this for credit cards, amirite?)

As you consider CPC forecasts and decide on a budget, the Keyword Planner is a great tool for checking how often the phrase is searched, how competitive the keywords are and how much it’ll cost to set up.

The problem you have to keep in mind is your competition. Multiple advertisers use the same keyword to trigger their ads, so Google uses Ad Rank (which we will touch on below) to determine whose ad will appear — and in what order.

Here are some factors that determine when (and if) your ad will appear to customers:

    • Your bid. How much are you willing to spend? If your competitors have huge budgets, you could be at a disadvantage.
    • Your ad quality. If there’s anything you take out of this blog post, it’s this: quality score. Adwords looks at how relevant and useful your ad and the corresponding website are to the person viewing it.

      Quality score measures the relevance of your keyword, ad and landing page — as well as how accurately it serves your customers. Even if your competitor’s maximum bid is higher than yours, your ad will appear higher if you have a higher quality score. Quality score is your number one priority.
    • Ad extensions. When you create each ad, you have the option to add extensions — like phone numbers, call to actions, and specific links to your site. See below:

Adwords estimates how these extensions impact your ad’s performance. Again, even if your competition has higher bids than you, using ad extensions will help your relevance and potentially earn you a higher position.

I repeat: you can still win at a higher position (at a lower price) by using highly relevant keywords, ads and extensions. USE THEM.

Google Adwords: Reap the Benefits.

Adwords is measurable.

Adwords shows how many people notice your ads, what percentage of viewers clicks to visit your website and how many people call you. With the tracking tools, you can even see the actual sales your website is generating as a direct result of your ad. Boom.

Adwords is controllable.
Want to add some keywords? Tweak some ad copy? Pause your campaign? All of that is controlled by you, in real time, for free. Sick of spending too many hours on a project? Or going over budget on a client’s campaign? (Oy). Enter PPC. Once your daily budget is set, you won’t ever exceed that number.

Adwords is speedy.
Once your Adwords campaign goes live, your ads will appear immediately. Your results are instant. Not only will this show some return-on-investment, but you will be able to see exactly how effective each keyword and ad is for your chosen campaign. Search engine  optimization (SEO) best practices are crucial for digital success, but PPC will get you to the top of search results in minutes.

Adwords offers reach.
You can choose to target your ads on a local, regional, national or international level. You can select specific cities or set a radius around your business. Perhaps the best aspect of Adwords is that you can reach your customer wherever they are right now. Adwords will help you reach the right people, at the right time — which is LIVING THE DREAM.

Adwords is specific.
Adwords is the ideal venue for businesses looking to drive clicks and conversions for specific products — in many cases, much more specific than social media campaigns. Google searchers often have a specific intent in mind, while users often go to social media sites like Facebook to simply check in and socialize with friends.

Ready to rule at paid search?

Slow down, sparky. Before you jump right in, here are a few best practices to follow as an Adwords manager:

Keep your budget in mind. As you manage the Adwords campaign, you’ll have the capability to increase keyword bids and daily budgets to stay competitive. Remember: you don’t have unlimited funds. Take caution before changing any bids and budgets.

Know your goal. Too many companies sign up for PPC campaigns because it’s “the right thing to do.” But do you know what you’re aiming to do? Are you looking to receive the highest amount of traffic? To get customers to download your new ebook? To see a 20 percent increase in sales? Find what will bring the most value to you or your customer before building your campaign.

Regular monitoring. An Adwords campaign is definitely not a set-it-and-forget-it type gig. A good campaign is regularly monitored, tweaked and optimized. Use A/B testing as often as you can. Constantly check the platform for underperforming ads, ineffective keywords and conversions.

Report the pros, but optimize the cons. When it comes to analyzing your campaign(s), obviously you want to relay the successes to your client, customer or boss. However, the one factor that’s more important than how you’re doing is what you’re doing. What are you doing to improve your ad rank, CTR and quality score? Share your takeaways, highlights and strategies moving forward — even if those have to include some negatives — so you can optimize the campaign (and build trust with your client).

PPC Management: It’s Your Turn.

The great Drake once said, “it’s better late than never, but never late is better.” For those of you late to the Google Adwords game, it’s OK.

According to Moz, 80 percent of search results now contain Adwords ad placements — not to mention that those ad placements are covering as much as 85 percent of the space above the fold on the results page. So the only way to beat them? Join them, friends.

Once you decide on your goals, start building out your keyword list. If you’re looking for a deeper dive into Google Adwords, stay tuned for Part II, where we’ll dig into conversion tracking, reporting and optimization.

Want to talk strategy, share your thoughts or bash my terrible jokes? Stalk me on Twitter @KristnSullivan or find me on LinkedIn.

What would you do if you won the 1.5 billion Powerball lot?


Today — Wednesday, January 13th, 2016 — is a day of optimism for millions as they hurry to their closest convenient store to purchase a Powerball lottery tickets for tonight’s drawing.

The bar is set high- The Powerball lottery has a striking $1.5 billion jackpot up for grabs.

Yes, that’s


With the recent news of (smaller) winning tickets sold in Amherst and Fredonia, it’s no surprise that some of our Western New York neighbors are feeling lucky. Social media is continuing to explode with hopes and dreams of many as they purchase their tickets before the big drawing tonight at 10:59 pm.  In fact,  many people have a strategic plan in hopes they hold the winning ticket to becoming a billionaire.

I conducted a short interview and asked my fellow Quinlanites what they would do if they were the Powerball winner.

So, what would you do if you won 1.5 billion dollars from the NY lottery?

Drew Celestino, Senior Web Developer: “Pay off all of my debts. Pay off all of my family and friend’s debts. Donate to as many animal rescues as I can.  Travel the world.  And probably buy a few guitars. Or maybe a guitar company. Because why not?”

Kathy King, Traffic Coordinator:  ” 1. Buy myself a really nice designer outfit for my press conference – and not from the Outlet Mall! 2. Hire Sarah & Grace to handle my PR needs.”

Katie Mohr, Account Manager:  “Pay off my student loans, pay off my friends’ and family’s student loans and mortgages, build the house of my dreams, travel the world, donate to charities and invest.”

Kristin Sullivan, Inbound Marketing Strategist:  “Save all of the abandoned/mistreated puppies of the world, donate a big chunk to Breast Cancer Research, the American Heart Association or other charitable organization and buy 1,000 acres for my family and hunker down in a massive log cabin out west.”


Frank Conjerti, Creative Director: “I would buy a Super Bowl ad of just me complaining about things like why the aisles are at super markets are too small.”

Josh Gumulak, Media Coordinator: “Definitely an island! Or bring an NBA team to Buffalo. Or both? Who knows!”

Greg Croniser, Director of IT: “I would use the money to lobby making the lottery illegal as it it just a tax on the poor disguised as a fund raiser for school systems.”

Sue Serba, Accounting: “If I won the lottery I would first pay off my kids student loans, I would pay off any debt that we had, I would share some of the money with family, go on a great extended family vacation all expense paid by our lottery winnings, put money aside to pay for all our grand-children’s college and retire somewhere down south in a beautiful house big enough for family to come and stay with us.”

Sean McIntyre, Controller: “I would take everyone on a long cruise, all expenses paid from New York City, over to Spain, back down through the Panama Canal, heading up to Alaska and ending in Australia.  You guys can find your own way home, I’m buying a penthouse in Sydney!”


Dan Bartlo, Executive Vice President:  I’d buy an MLB franchise.
Specifically, the Baltimore Orioles (my team for all my life). Forbes values them at about a billion dollars, so I could make it work (maybe with another investor or two) and hopefully still have a little left over for a rainy day. By buying the team, I could call the shots, have a voice in MLB policy decisions (like making the DH permanent in both leagues), still be able to dabble in my other passions – like marketing and advertising, negotiating and statistical analysis – when I wanted to, meet famous people, and always be able to catch a game on a warm summer night with a beer and a hot dog in my hand. Plus, it’s a good investment – in ten years, I’d probably double my money (the current ownership group has made 4x their initial investment in just over 20 years). If the Baltimore Orioles’ owner wouldn’t sell, I buy a down-on-its-luck MLB franchise and move it to Buffalo once global warming, gentrification and Terry Pegula have reversed 100 years of defeats and declines and put the Queen City back on the map. It could work, right?”

Krista Roberts, Creative Accounts Manager: “After paying off all my lovely debt and student loans I’d build a two story log cabin on my families land on Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks- give each family their own room. Bringing my family together!”

Grace Gerass, Digital Content Coordinator: “First I’d do the basic stuff, like pay off my student loans, do a little investing and take my family on a trip to Italy. But then I’d spend time renting a bunch of apartments in different countries so I could experience other cultures around the world!”


MacLaine Russell, VFX Supervisor:   “I would have a left-left lane made on all the roads I travel, that only I can drive in, because I wouldn’t want anyone slowing me down in my new Lamborghini Sesto Elemento.”

Ben Kirst, Content Marketing Director: “My new job would be figuring out how to give away $1,4 billion. No one needs that much money. The rest, I’m sure my wife would think of something. I think we’re out of peanut butter.”

Jessica Chapman, Account Director: “I would spend money to completely change the bus public transportation system at least for one week. Heated bus stops, free snacks and champagne on the buses, comfy pillows and DJs! There’s so many hard-working people that take the bus everyday and it’s gotta be rough on those cold winter mornings. I would also take all of my family and friends on a long world travel excursion, seeing Italy and Spain while travelling on my luxury yacht would be ideal. I would buy a vacation home somewhere tropical and a private plane to take me there on a whim and give to charities and underprivileged communities across the world as well as create a dachshund puppy palace for my dog, Buttons, where his dachsie friends could all come play.”

Jillian Minderler, Graphic Designer: ” I would pay off all debt, have college funds and accounts set aside for my kids, do the remodels to our house that we dream of, do a year of travel with my husband around the world, do a year of “learning” travel with our kids, learn to rock climb but with style – we would travel to places to learn and buy small land in another country and create a yoga retreat.”


What are your plans if you win Powerball?

Let us know what your dreams are if you win the big jackpot & tweet us @QuinlanCompany.

May the odds be ever in your favor.

Good luck, everyone!





Social media trends: Marketing for the big screen


The 73rd Golden Globes were held on Jan. 10, 2016, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which is made up of about 90 journalists, honored some of the most notable successes of 2015 in film and television.

In case you weren’t able to watch the Golden Globes live, some of the most buzzed-about moments of the night included:

  • Leonardo DiCaprio giving Lady Gaga some serious side eye as she walked passed him to receive an award for her role in American Horror Story: Hotel.


social media trends

If you’re like my family, you may have been too busy oohing and ahhing over the beautiful ball gowns to remember who won each award (please don’t judge us) — but, like most, we did pay attention for two of the night’s biggest awards: Best Motion Picture – Drama and Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Here were this year’s nominees:

Best Motion Picture – Drama nominees:

  • Mad Max: Fury Road (May 15, 2015)
  • Room (Sept. 4, 2015)
  • Spotlight (Nov. 6, 2015)
  • The Revenant (Dec. 25, 2015)
  • Carol (Nov. 20, 2015)

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy nominees:

  • Joy (Dec. 25, 2015)
  • Spy (June 5, 2015)
  • The Big Short (Dec. 11, 2015)
  • The Martian (Oct. 2, 2015)
  • Trainwreck (July 17, 2015)

Now, you may consider yourself to be pretty media-savvy, but be honest — had you heard of all 10 nominees before watching the show (or realize that The Martian was a comedy)? If you did, that’s great! You definitely know your stuff. If not, you’re not alone.

Do you know your movies?

I did a little unscientific research in Buffalo during the week leading up to the awards show. By talking to 50 strangers at Target (2626 Delaware Ave., Buffalo) and Spot Coffee (765 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo), I was able to find out what percentage of average people had actually recognized these titles. Here’s what I found:

Best Motion Picture – Drama nominees:

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy nominees:

What I learned (besides finding out no one knew about Spotlight)

Stay away from holiday shoppers! Just kidding (sort of). While I did run into a few cranky customers — apparently not everyone got what they wanted from Santa — most people were more than happy to spend a quick moment talking to me.

A huge number of people had never heard of (let alone seen) a notable chunk of the movies up for the two biggest Golden Globe awards. Some of the most shocking numbers? Only 6 percent had heard of Spotlight and 8 percent had heard of Room. In fact, most shoppers were unaware of the movies in the Drama category in general, shaking their heads in frustration until I got to the comedies.

Unsurprisingly, Joy and Trainwreck sparked the most conversation — mostly because of the movies’ female stars. While most hadn’t seen Joy yet (it had just came out), they raved about Schumer’s comedy. It turns out raunchy comedy appeals to all ages! Even an elderly couple admitted they watched (and enjoyed) it after their granddaughter raved about it.

The biggest disappointment? Only one guy, who seemed like the tech-savvy hipster we all know and love, was familiar with all 10 movies.

SPOILER ALERT: The Revenant won best drama and The Martian won best musical or comedy.

Hollywood, social media trends and the digital age

So why did so few people recognize the year’s top films? It all has a little something to do with social media marketing plans.

“It used to be that you had to go to the theater to see the trailers for the next batch of upcoming films,” Mashable’s Christina Warren writes. “Then TV shows dedicated to showcasing previews hit the scene. While watching movie previews online has been old-hat for more than a decade, the rise of social media has changed how information gets exposed to fans.”

In other words, as we increasingly hold the ability to pick and choose what media is exposed to us, we can intentionally or unintentionally avoid even the huge-budget movie marketing machines because we either deftly avoid or are blissfully unaware of their campaigns. Although we consume more media than ever, it’s the media we want — and if a biographical drama about Boston Globe reporters exposing child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church doesn’t fit our parameters, and we don’t fit into the target audience defined by the film marketers, we may never hear about it.

Social campaigns for films that worked

What did the most popular films’ advertising teams do right? Let’s take a look at the two most-recognized movies for both categories.

Joy: According to Engagement Labs, a social analytics company, Joy held the top spot on Instagram and had the highest active social media user base, meaning the highest percentage of people who follow the channel and actively engage with it through comments and likes. What did the film do so well? It posted content more frequently than its competitors and highlighted its cast. A post congratulating star Jennifer Lawrence on her Golden Globe win earned an impressive 1,500 liked within an hour.

One thing Joy has not done, unfortunately, is break out at the box office. The film has raked in less than $47 million in its first three weeks, underperforming despite the significant hype.

joy joy


Trainwreck: Unlike Lawrence, who refuses to personally join the Twittersphere, Trainwreck star Amy Schumer went all-out while promoting her film on her own account. Not only did she tweet about the movie herself, but she interacted with publishers, celebs and fans by retweeting their pictures and responding to their praise.

Although JLaw beat Schumer for the crown of best actress in a comedy, Schumer’s movie was much more successful. Trainwreck brought in over $30 million opening weekend, with a domestic gross total of over $110 million.

fans sister trainwreck


The Revenant: The latest DiCaprio epic also focused on creating a strong social media presence, taking in the number one spot on Engagement Labs’ Facebook eValue and Engagement score. And just like that bear, The Revenant isn’t done just yet. The film gained the highest number of followers on Facebook, adding 10,000 fans the day of the award show.

To mirror the movie’s social media success, The Revenant performed extremely well in the box office. On opening weekend, it brought in an impressive $38 million, taking second only to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

rev the revenant


Mad Max: Fury Road: Mad Max: Fury Road engaged with its Facebook and Twitter fans by asking movie-related questions that drew them into the fictional post-apocalyptic world. The account used the hashtag #askgeorgemiller and had the film’s director (George Miller) respond to questions through Twitter’s video function. Mad Max also took advantage of Snapchat’s new Discover feature, which allowed users to access exclusive content right through the app.

Mad Max: Fury Road is another film that met its anticipated hype. Its opening weekend earned over $45 million, and it’s reached close to $154 million since its debut in May.

mad max

Are social media trends working in film?

Does a kick-ass social media strategy equate to box office results? Well, not necessarily. While we’ve seen what a solid campaign can do to awareness levels, it won’t guarantee the film will resonate well with moviegoers (think Joy). This isn’t to say it shouldn’t be used. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

“Social media and its powers of viral marketing have ensured that the film industry stays afloat,” Hootsuite’s Sam Milbrath explains. “Not only does it generate massive buzz, but it connects fans directly with the film, producers, actors and other fans, while minimizing distribution and marketing costs in the process.”

Like any advertising platform used for film, social media trends are experiments that we are still learning about.

Did you recognize all the top Golden Globe nominees this year? Let me know! Tweet me at @QuinlanCompany or @gracegerass.