Social TV: Participation, Motivation and Initiative


The Social TV Summit took place on November 16th in New York City. For many, the highlight of the day was the afternoon keynote presentation given by one of the few women attending, Chloe Sladden, Director of Content and Programming at Twitter.

Sladden briefly discussed progress made in 2011 with the integration of Twitter into TV content. The use of on-air visual indicators paired with a verbal call to action is a basic programming practice that has accelerated across networks. Sladden referenced statistics. This simple integration into the show content can result in up to a 10-fold increase in Twitter volume, directly and immediately. Moreover, out of the top 50 TV shows, approximately 50% have active brand accounts on Twitter.

On air hashtag endorsements, high profile accounts and live tweets have only begun to create the foundation of basic infrastructure between TV and social media. Courageous content producers have taken risks this past year in pursuit of offering their audience an enhanced viewing experience. Live fans have welcomed TV content infused with social media because it transcends the fourth wall by encouraging their participation.

Sladden’s excitement peaked when she began outlining the blueprint for Twitter’s broadcast fusion in 2012. She boldly challenged the TV industry to utilize social media by considering revolutionary propositions. First, “make Twitter engagement a peer to Nielsen Ratings,” by perceiving Nielsen as the scientific measurement, like blood pressure; whereas, Twitter is the emotional investment, like one’s heartbeat. It is becoming clear that social buzz is related to ratings. Both brands and producers should consider the social media velocity associated with certain types of programs to plan strategically.

Second, “program Twitter like you program your Network,” by beginning to think of your show(s) or brand’s TV content as an experience event. The true potential for groundbreaking engagement dwells amongst the producers, networks and advertising agencies. Optimize live tweeting, write, produce and program your content to design a holistic experience that is significant to the audience. TV may traditionally be categorized as a lean back experience, but certain shows are participatory in nature and yearning to harness social media with multi-screen functionality. Know your content, know your audience; but, above all, learn to embrace your fans! Decide when and how to involve the audience. Social media needs to be used creatively in ways that surprise and delight viewers; therefore, increasing resonance.

The third challenge, and according to Sladden, the most difficult for content producers to seize is the ability to, “invite your Twitter audience to become integrated into the show itself.” In the past, TV content has used telephones, SMS text messages and branded websites to add a facet of interaction to static programming. Today’s technology is exponentially developing. Aim to make the interactive element of TV content remarkably creative! Sladden stated that Twitter, “is the real laugh track.” Social traffic spikes during moments of drama or during scenes with heightened emotion. These moments are distinguished because viewers react together, sharing emotions, in a united live experience.

I loved Sladden’s enthusiasm when she spoke of how a program, like the political debate, could incorporate live Twitter activity into the show itself. If the hashtags #answer and #dodge were promoted for instantaneous interaction, the audience could offer their judgments as to how well candidates addressed the posed questions. Automatically, I thought of how this type of opinionated participation could enhance other programs, like sporting events on TV. The network would present a question on-air or on the second screen: was the call fair or foul? What if the immediate public response, via twitter or in conjunction with other social media channels, was against the referee’s official decision? How would the fan’s communal opposition change or challenge the outcome? Influence public discussion? Public opinion? This is where producers can put their creativity to the test. As an avid television viewer, I find that TV content becomes much more interesting and engaging if I am emotionally or socially invested to tune in. Broadcasters need to take risks in order to discover the best approach that captures and maintains this type of meaningful investment appropriate for their audience and tailored to their content. Drive tune-in week after week, season after season and year after year.

Twitter wants to assist the infiltration of social media into broadcasted programs. The company seeks to collaborate with networks, producers and advertisers with their implementation by providing best practice guidelines. Seek to discover what motivates your viewers and what drives initiative. That is the portal to interactive digital revenue. The best creative storytelling requires risk taking.

Original Publication Source:  Never.no Blog

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About Sarah Louise

I’m a millennial seeking to revolutionize TV with hybrid delivery and interactive programming. Seeking to advance the synchronization of multi-screen content to create heuristic harmony across fragmented devices. 2010 Graduate of Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Communications.
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