Meet the Integr8ters

The Roxy Crew Dominates VT's Social Media Power 100 Chart

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: February 11, 2012

Cover1.jpgHow do you measure a venue’s social media prowess? Is it quality of posts, fan engagement or number of followers? Venues Today is attempting to measure a facility’s influence on Facebook and Twitter with our Social Media Power 100 Chart. We brought in Cara Vanderhook from Staples Center in L.A. and Social Media whiz Matt Kautz from Paciolan for a sit-down summit with the chart's clear number one venue — The Roxy in West Hollywood.

REPORTING FROM LOS ANGELES — The crew at The Roxy are doubling down on a social experiment that has kept them at the top of the pops since 2009. The 500-capacity club has amassed more followers and fans than any other amphitheater, arena or stadium in North America through a combination of fan engagement and content curation. The next obvious step would be managing social media for other venues, but doing Facebook en masse presents one obvious challenge — how does one scale a deeply personal experience like social media while maintaining brand credibility?

 “It’s a very complicated thing,” said Nathan Levinson, the COO for the newly-created Adler Integrated, a marketing shop created by Roxy owner Nic Adler.

 “You start to get to a point where you learn what can be automated and what can’t be,” he told the group of seven gathered on the top floor of the Ritz Carlton at L.A. Live for VT’s first Social Media Summit, part of the kickoff for Venues Today’s Social Media Power 100 Chart.

 “Initially you develop the architecture — their digital presence,” he added. “Next you build on your theories, covering things like engagement. We always say, don’t cram promotion down peoples' throats. You need to be viewed as a leader and a sharer of content.”

 The famed rock venue on the Sunset Strip is certainly a leader. The Roxy has over 100,000 followers on Twitter, another 400,000 fans on Facebook and a staggering VT SMP100 score of 494. The next venue on the list, the iconic (and much larger) Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Denver, has a score of 251.

So how does a small rock club in West Hollywood — which until 2006 had banned fans from bringing cameras to shows — have more Twitter followers than Madison Square Garden in New York, Chicago’s United Center, Lexington, Ky.’s Rupp Arena and the Georgia Dome combined? 

“It’s because we got there first,” Adler says without missing a beat. “We started six months after Twitter came on, and we did Facebook right away. We had more time to collect followers and engage people.”

It’s a simple response — perhaps too simple for Alf LaMont, the former Director of Marketing at the Comedy Store now with Adler Integrated, who quickly chimed in.

“I think you’re selling yourself short on that. The reason The Roxy has such a big fan base is because the entire business model has incorporated social. Investing in your business means investing in social. They’re one and the same.”

It’s also an investment in people. The Roxy was one of the first clubs in the United States to hire a full time social media manager in Tonya Cooke, now an employee at Adler Integrated. They also made a financial investment in social media, diverting their print budget — which was as high as $300,000 — into social media positions and advertising. 

The Roxy has since made a return to print. It’s part of their ‘be everywhere’ strategy that not only keeps them in traditional media, but also pushes them into new social media platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr. But the experience with social has changed the way they brand their club. Ads that once buried their logo now celebrate the Roxy brand as much as the bands who play there. 

“That’s a huge shift in marketing,” said Matt Kautz, director of Social Media and Consumer Marketing at ticketing company Paciolan. “You used to brand in print and support the brand with social, but now you’re creating a whole brand dynamically.”

Has it helped the Roxy sell more tickets? “Yes,” Adler quickly responded. Has it boosted The Roxy’s national presence in the live music industry? “Definitely,” Adler said. It helps that The Roxy has a famous founder in Nic’s dad, music producer Lou Adler, and was the epicenter of the 1980s L.A. rock scene. But under the younger Adler’s watch, the crew at The Roxy have ascended to the status of social media rock stars, the story of their success and the unification of the Sunset Strip venues often more compelling than the bios of the thousand-plus bands who play there every year. 

“And one of the reasons we have so many followers is because we have bands coming in every night,” Adler said. One of The Roxy’s breakout bands, Fitz and The Tantrums, has nearly 13,000 followers on Twitter. Multiply that by the 1,000 bands that play The Roxy every year, and you’ve got a lot of eyeballs.

“If we can’t get the band to interact with us, we’ll direct-message the drummer,” Adler said. “He’ll be so stoked that we’re talking to him that he’ll bring the band in on the conversation.”

Of course, when things blow up The Roxy is under a microscope, with 100,000 followers watching Adler and crew scramble into damage control. If someone complains about the venue, that’s no big deal. Adler prides himself on customer service, addressing every complaint he sees online. But when a member of rap outfit Odd Future trashed The Roxy’s soundboard on Dec. 23 after Adler cut their sound (he said he was worried that some girls near the front of the stage were getting crushed), the rap crew started a viral campaign dissing the venue.

Adler put on his diplomat hat, approached a writer from L.A. Weekly and shared his side of the story. When the article went live, he posted a link on Twitter, with the caption “Shit Happens.”

It’s an experience he can share with any of his new clients at Adler Integrated, where success stories from the Sunset Strip morph into company strategy while protecting the individualized brand of each venue on the Adler Integrated roster.

“There’s nuance to every single account and that’s the learning curve,” said LaMont.

Adler also plans to leverage his relationships with social media startups to give his clients an edge and help push their followers onto new platforms. Popular photography app Hipstamatic teamed up with Adler to create a customized photo feed, geo-tagging all images taken at the Sunset Strip Music Festival.

“When you’re the first (company on a social platform), you take the brand into the influencer category and then you start to see things really change,” he said. 

“We’re a music company at our core, but we want to be the company that tells you about Pinterest or Instagram or SoundTracking,” he said. “Hopefully we become a curator of what’s next, because that’s very powerful. We can take our followers and move them on to the next platform. That’s a pretty powerful reason to follow us.”

Interviewed for this story: Nic Adler, Nathan Levinson, Alf LaMont and Tonya Cook, (310) 779-3340; Matt Kautz, (949) 823-1651

  • by Dave Brooks
  • Published: February 11, 2012