How Brands are Adapting to Social "Change" (Q&A with Michoel Ogince, Big Fuel)


I recently sat down with Michoel Ogince, Director, Platform & Product Strategy at Big Fuel Communications, an award winning and nationally respected marketing company. During our conversation, we discussed the challenges brands face in today's marketplace and how a select few are successfully addressing them.

Sam: What has changed in what problems brands are trying to solve over the past couple years?

Michoel: Great way to kick off this session! There have been significant changes: Two years ago brands were focused on building a social media presence, community, and showing simple metrics that prove ROI.

Today the problems are more complex. Below are three:

  1. Converged media strategy: Social media is no longer siloed into owned media channels. It breathes life in the worlds of earned and paid, too. To be successful in social media, brands must integrate and align all three channels. For example owned and earned no longer work single-handedly. Brands need to run paid media within social networks to achieve successful ROI.
  2. Social media security and risk management: The recent social media account hacks prove that this is an emerging challenge for brands. Beyond enforced policies there are emerging technologies that shed a layer of security across social accounts – protecting hacks, content, and 3rd party platform access.
  3. Data: There is an abundance of social data across owned and earned channels, plus an overwhelming number of social listening technologies. This makes it extremely difficult for brands to derive valuable audience insights and measure the success of social.

Sam: What are the biggest challenges for agencies or clients in adopting new technology to solve these problems?

Michoel: The biggest challenge is the proliferation of platforms and technologies. Brands and agencies are struggling to answer – how do we evaluate and deploy emerging technologies?

At Big Fuel we built Social Labs, the agency’s innovation nerve center, which is tasked with evaluating emerging social technologies and providing innovative solutions for global brands.

Sam: You work across many clients, some more progressive than others. What are the characteristics that enable a company to be more progressive in their social strategy and adoption of technology?

Michoel: That’s a great question and no doubt it boils down to competitive advantage. The most successful brands in the world stay ahead of the curve by having a culture, business strategy and resources to push the innovation buttons.

Sam: Give a great example (story) of a brand taking their social strategy further than their peers or competitor. 

Michoel: Recently Big Fuel devised and executed a campaign for the Sheraton Hotel brand entitled, I’m Here. Sheraton’s global social challenge centers on how to improve guest experiences at scale. The goal was to address personalization in the social space in a way that mimics personalized guest experiences in the hotel.

The idea turned the Sheraton Hotel brand into a trusted travel personality by engaging authentically with people in transit, even if those people have never mentioned Sheraton.

Using the intrinsic currency of Twitter, recognition and validation – the brand connected with people making declarative “I’m here” travel statements. The goal was to talk (tweet!) authentically about the travel experience not Sheraton properties. Connections were made and relationships were built by sharing photos, witty observations and links to info they’re looking for from the @SheratonHotels Twitter handle.

Sam: You evaluate over 250 technology companies, tools and platforms each year. In your own words, how do you describe Mass Relevance to your peers and clients, and how do you see them as unique in solving brand challenges?

Michoel: As a one-liner I describe Mass Relevance as a social content curation and display platform. On a deeper level however – it’s more than that. In fact Mass Relevance is like the new TV. Consumers and fans want to ‘watch’ and engage with social content related to a specific brand, product release or event and Mass Relevance is the social television network that powers that experience.

Mass Relevance solves for many brand challenges in the social space including, maximizing engagement, aggregating fragmented social content and driving conversions.

Their true uniqueness though lies in the product itself: the go-to-market SaaS model, content filters and wide array of visualizations. No one comes close!


About Michoel Ogince

Michoel is Director of Platform and Product Strategy at social media agency Big Fuel, where he leads Social Labs, the agency's innovation nerve center. Tasked with evaluating emerging social technologies for global Fortune 500 companies, he provides innovative and effective solutions for brands in the social space.

Michoel is Founding and Managing Partner at Windforce Ventures, a VC firm specializing in social and mobile technology. He is also a Board Advisor at Social iQ Networks (now Nextgate), Video Genie, SocialChorus and Mass Relevance and is a frequent speaker at social media technology conferences and events.

Michoel was born in South Africa, raised in Australia and has traversed the globe. He is an ordained Rabbi, outdoor enthusiast, avid photographer and coffee connoisseur. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his wife, daughter and son. You can follow him on Twitter - @Twabbi.

Sam Decker's picture

Sam Decker

Sam Decker is a current member of the Spredfast board. Sam most recently served as the CEO and co-founder of Mass Relevance (now Spredfast). Prior to Mass Relevance, Sam was founding Chief Marketing Officer at Bazaarvoice, a provider of SaaS social commerce technologies serving over 1,000 brands, where he was responsible for building the company’s brand, products and platform.