Interview: Brett Keintz, Director of Social, Groupon

8 Oct 2010 by Randall Helms, 1 Comment »

Note: This is the full transcript of an interview conducted by email with Brett Keintz, Director of Social at Groupon. Before joining Groupon, Brett was CEO and founder of Sharethrough.

Only a few quotes from Brett were included in the final dissertation (which will be available Monday, by the way), so I would like to thank Brett for allowing me to post the full interview here.

Randall Helms: I am working from the hypothesis that, for brands, social media is better suited to engaging with existing customers than it is for reaching new customers. Do you agree or disagree with this hypothesis? Why?

Brett Keintz: It really depends on how you define social media.

Do you mean on Facebook or Twitter, period?

Right now, Twitter is better for existing customers because they don’t have an ad product. Facebook does, and they find new customers for games and Pepsi and other products through their advertising products. Anything that is as invasive as traditional advertising works to get new customers. But for beverages and other companies that spend a lot in traditional media, the volume of new customers you can gain just isn’t there yet for even Facebook, much less Twitter.

So in short: I think you’re right now for Twitter, and mostly right for Facebook; but I think that will change as you see more invasive (interruptive) advertising products released on all of those platforms.

Randall: I am looking specifically at how consumer goods brands can best use social media; do you see that there are any specific challenges for such brands in the social space as compared to other branded products/services?

Brett: It’s a 24/7 job, which is different from tv advertising. You have to have people monitoring and responding and engaging all the time, which makes it more like a customer service/support position than a traditional marketing position. And it is much harder, requiring creativity and latitude for those engaging with their consumers in order to do it well. Command and conquer doesn’t work nearly as well with social media, because individual brand ambassadors have to be able to engage and react quickly or be rendered ineffective.

Randall: How do you define and measure ‘success’ in social media marketing? Are there any particular metrics that apply across the board, or is each situation unique?

Brett: A lot of it is unique, but most of it comes down to the rate at which content is shared, which companies like Sharethrough, the company I founded out of Stanford, are helping to pioneer. The strongest indicator of cultural relevance on social media is the rate at which content is shared.

Randall: Social media puts marketers in direct contact with individual customers, as opposed to market research profiles – how do marketers best take advantage of this new relationship?

Brett: They should still segment, but need to be better conversationalists than broadcasters. They have to understand that people are people, not market research profiles, and engage with them individually. Again, I think this role ends up being closer to a current customer service role than a traditional marketer role over time.

Randall: What role do influencers play in a successful social media strategy?

Brett: Influencers are the main drivers; while you end up getting a lot of the value out of individuals seeing the message of a social media campaign, a couple major influencers can really drive engagement at the start of any campaign in the way that traditional tv has always served advertisers. If you get Ashton Kutcher to tweet out to his 2m followers, that’s essentially the social media equivalent of a super bowl ad and can singlehandedly get a viral campaign going.

Randall: More generally, what do you see as the main advantages and limitations of marketing through social media?



  • Personal, genuine (if done right)
  • Reach people where they are, 24/7
  • Less “ad blindness” than traditional television, print, tv, banner ads
  • Fewer competition, as most companies “don’t get it” or are afraid of social media


  • Difficult to concoct a master strategy one year in advance; it’s more read and react given a general set of rules, which relies a lot on individual creativity and brand stewardship (harder)
  • Lots of work: 24/7 job, where speed is of the essence
  • Less marketers who actually live it, and therefore can execute effectively (lack of talented personnel)

Randall: Thank you!


Tags: , ,

One Comment

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pearsall, Pearsall. Pearsall said: new social media post – interview with Brett Keintz of Groupon – […]

Leave a Reply

× 7 = forty two

Follow Me!

Follow Me! Follow Me! Follow Me! Follow Me!