Creating Meaningful Social Media Relationships through Content: An Interview with Jon Frederick of Nickelodeon

Jon Frederick is the Director of Social Media at Nickelodeon, so basically he has the best job ever! Jon and his team manage over 100+ social media accounts for Nickelodeon, all backed by millions of followers. They are responsible for editorial, fan engagement and programming strategies for all of the channels. Jon will be speaking on a virtual panel at the SMSS session “Creating Meaningful Social Media Relationships through Content,” where the panelists will be discussing best practices and case studies on topics related to relationship building and brand trust and loyalty.

Jon was kind enough to answer some questions we had about relationship building through social media and his experiences at Nickelodeon.

At the Chicago Social Media Strategies Summit, you’ll be sitting on a panel about creating meaningful social media relationships. I can imagine that there are a wide variety of audiences that your brand speaks to, from parents to nostalgia lovers to kids themselves. How do you differentiate these audiences when creating content with a relationship-building focus?

For our main Nick brand, we’re talking to both the people that influence the network’s core kid audience (older siblings, cousins, friends and parents) as well as nostalgic Nickelodeon fans. We want to inspire older fans to talk about the brand, remember what they loved, and even sample some of our current shows — co-viewing is a huge way we can build a fanbase! While it can be tough to build a show audience right out of the gate, we’re always up for the challenge.

“Relationship building” as a goal can feel a little overwhelming when more specific metrics aren’t nailed down. How would you describe a brand or social media account that has successfully mastered their relationship-building practice?

100% agreed! It’s very easy to be on the positive/negative sides of the internet and virality is extremely fleeting! For me, relationship building is really about building organic brand ambassadors. If you’ve got people talking positively about your brand, then you’ve done a great job. I once heard an anecdote that stuck with me; if a person has a bad experience, they’ll tell five friends, but if they have a good experience they’ll tell just one. It’s not just enough to publish good content anymore, the truly successful brands are folding in personal community management. And I’m not talking about a bot responding to keywords or anthropomorphizing your mascot, it’s about having fans who know that there are real people working to make sure their voices are being heard.

Can you run me through an average day at Nickelodeon?

Absolutely! We start almost every day with an editorial meeting specifically based on “evergreen” content. This is all the stuff we put out that’s not directly tied to a promotional effort and is really just for the fans to enjoy, no strings attached. We discuss relevant trends we’ve seen popping up overnight or that morning, review timelines for time-sensitive pieces (like if it’s a video for National Donut Day), and brainstorm future fun content pieces.
From there each day tends to run in a different direction. My team is specifically responsible for the calendar programming, editorial voice, evergreen content strategy, and community management of our social accounts — we’re basically on the frontline with the consumer. Within Nickelodeon’s social department, we also have a team that oversees social strategy for our shows and a team that focuses specifically on audience development — both of which we work very closely with. Days are packed with meetings to discuss everything from content/account analytics to upcoming department requests. We’re constantly tweaking our strategy based on audience insights and working with the strategists to incorporate those insights quickly — very much a fail fast environment, especially with each social platform being truly unique and fickle in its own ways.

You’ve been part of multiple platform launches, like Instagram and TikTok. How do you prove to your stakeholders that being an early adopter of new platforms is right for your team?

Being within the Viacom family definitely helps! We’re fortunate enough to have so many unique Viacom networks that we can get insights and support from. For Instagram and TikTok, we weren’t the first Viacom channel on the platforms. Leading up to our account launches, we met with our sister networks to gather best practices, then created personal accounts to better accustom ourselves with the platforms’ capabilities and finally educated senior leadership around what distinguished the platform, including why we should be there.
We’re a small team, even smaller back when we launched those accounts, so we’re always aware that a new account is something that’ll need extra attention and a constant stream of content. Before we launch on any platform we make sure there’s enough content and a publishing plan to hit the ground running as well as resources to sustain it. And we learn as we go, constantly testing different content, caption and discovery tactics so we can determine best practices.

Nickelodeon’s parent company has recently undergone a giant and highly visible merger. Can you share any advice for marketers to stay focused and true to your strategies while facing a lot of change and unknowns in the workplace (and potentially with leadership)?

Just continue to do your best. Every big company goes through changes and no one has a crystal ball. Make sure your team is visible, you’re managing upwards, and you have data to back up your strategies.

In your SMSS bio, it says that your team manages over 100+ social media accounts. Do you use any MUST-HAVE tools to help you keep everything organized?

A good social media management system is ALWAYS necessary when you’re managing that many accounts — something like Sprinklr, Hootsuite, or Spredfast. It’s tough though because some platforms don’t have an API that an SMMS can tap into, so we wind up keeping a lot of publishing calendars and a very lively Slack channel. Whatever you go with, make sure you’ve got mobile capabilities. I’d love to use Facebook’s Creator Studio more often because it allows for so much scheduling control, but the lack of a mobile version makes it really difficult to rally around.

What other departments do you work with on a regular basis, and how do you incorporate everyone’s goals into your strategies?


It’s more like what departments aren’t we working with? We’re always looking at the overall company objective: to help Nickelodeon draw in new fans and maintain current ones. It’s a goal that every department is working towards in one way or another. We work with almost every department to ensure that their portion of that goal is being supported through Nickelodeon’s social media accounts — from upcoming premieres and consumer products to pro-social issues and partner marketing, we’re constantly helping to deepen that fan experience.

[Read More: Key Ways Sales and Marketing Should Collaborate on Content]

What’s one lesson that you wish you knew when you started in the marketing industry?

Don’t sweat the small stuff, not every idea needs to be a multi-step plan, and not every campaign is going to be a huge success. Sometimes the simplest stuff can have the biggest impact.

Catch Jon Frederick at the virtual Social Media Strategies Summit on June 9, 2020.
Follow Nickelodeon on Social Media: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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