A birthday celebration for the King of Pop via social media requires, well, a king-like effort for those behind the campaign.

It’s Michael Jackson. It has to be big. It has to have staying power -- staying power like the dance move from a 24-year-old up-and-comer during a Motown show on March 25, 1983. 

#MJWeAreOne Engages MJ Fans

Sony Music pulled this off with its #MJWeAreOne campaign. It encouraged fans to celebrate the late Jackson’s birthday (he died four years ago and would have turned 55 on Aug. 29) and spreading his message of “unity, harmony and hope.”

How? With virtual cake and candles, of course. 

Through Instagram photos and videos, the #MJWeAreOne campaign accepted fan well-wishes for MJ through images and videos it uploaded and streamed through its We Are One Website. Still today, the home page is an endless stream of these fan videos and images, highlighted through a world map that tells viewers from where each video/photo came.

The Sony Music promotion was in addition to a live celebration, “Michael Jackson One,” at Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas. 

The result was a 600% increase in web traffic for the Michael Jackson site. And remember, none of this was about product promotion -- rather, a targeted effort at increasing awareness of what Sony felt was an important message.

Engagement win? Look no further than the home page of the Jackson website to know this was a brand-health-management touchdown.

Targeted Campaigns: Timing is Everything

We caught up this week in a video chat with Jason Cohen, senior director of digital marketing for Sony Music, after he presented at the Social Media & Web Analytics Innovation Enterprise in Boston. Cohen discussed with us the importance of targeted web campaigns.  

“One of the things we find when you focus on social is you really need to target when you post your campaigns,” Cohen said. “The internet is world-wide, and people speak other languages than English. You have to target your posts in different languages so you really speak to that audience. And also culturally there are differences between people in the United States and people in Germany. What you say and how it’s translated when you post things have a huge impact.” 

Focus on your message, your audience, the timing and language, Cohen said, “and you can truly increase your engagement on social many times over.”

No Social Silos

All the while, ensure your social platform is not operating in silos from other business engagements, Cohen said. Asked what’s intrigued him during other presentations at this week’s conference, Cohen said he’s heard the phrase “multi-channel” come up quite a few times.

“You just can’t silo social,” he told CMSWire. “Social has an impact on other things. Search has an impact on social. It has an impact on email acquisitions, sales and on Website visits, so multichannel is very important.”

Finding the Right Social Talent

Putting together a first-class social media engagement campaign means finding first-class talent.

The presentation of Capital One’s Kip Wetzel also piqued Cohen’s interest. The vice president of enterprise social strategy, Wetzel discussed, among other things Thursday, talent-acquisition strategies for social media teams.

And where there are 7,000 open jobs on Careerbuilder in social media currently -- and 42,000 estimated social media positions to be created in 2013, according to the National Institute for Social Media -- digital marketing leaders will be busy interviewing. 

Ask candidates what tools they use in social. Given them real-world situations. Give them an hour to put together a model. Give them tweets and tell them they have 30 seconds to respond.

“When the media is attacking you,” Wetzel told the audience, “you don’t have hours to figure out what you’re going to do.”

Wetzel suggested bringing in social media candidates at three different times: a morning informal coffee, a formal interview session with all the relevant managers and HR in the afternoon, and finally perhaps a cocktail setting in the evening.

Three different situations to “see how they react,” Wetzel said. “Every case is going to be different in social, and you need to gauge how people will react.”

Cohen told us Wetzel’s hiring strategies were “very enlightening” and a “great approach” to determine what potential hires would do in a particular situation.

“That’s the challenge we face with music,” Cohen said. “We face a lot of things that happen in real time. And how do you react?”