Social TV is being embraced by television networks, producers and viewers at an impressive rate. What used to exclusively be a passive medium is transforming into interactive, engaging experiences and the formation of communities around areas of common interest…television shows. The TV experience, which was being questioned with regard to its ability to survive amidst other entertainment options that have come on the scene, is actually being reinvigorated thanks to the second screen. The relationship between the viewer and the programme is deepening. Far from consuming passive entertainment, audiences now seem to want to be active participants in the shows they’re watching.
So perhaps it’s worth our while to flip around the dial and look at some of the forces and trends that are driving this Social TV adoption.
The best-executed Social TV makes the viewers feel as if they are true partners with a particular show or channel. They are in some way made better by the information the channel is conveying, and the channel is made better thanks to the involvement of viewers who are true fans of the show, knowledgeable in virtually every aspect of its plots and characters. It is a mutually beneficial, two-way relationship, which is what social is all about.
The very best Social TV initiatives recruit viewers and convey upon them a certain level of responsibility. This can be for something quick and easy such as voting for a singer in a televised competition, or for something more serious such as warning friends of an impending storm. When the viewer is afforded these levels of responsibility, they are invested in what’s happening on the screen because they know they have a role to play in it.
Social TV, done well, has the ability to “take” the viewer to wherever televised events are happening. Actors and directors refer to this as the “fourth wall.” It is the imaginary dividing line between what’s on the screen and the viewers watching from a distance. The second screen takes the viewer through that fourth wall; access to backstage exclusives, cast and crew interviews, tours of the set, etc. Given these experiences, the shows become more real to them. They feel on some level they are actually there where the show is happening and part of the production.
Great Social TV connects the news deliverer directly to the news consumer and facilitates a conversation between the two that allows news viewers to ask their own questions and steer coverage toward what particularly fascinates them about a story. In this way, news programmes are assured the information they’re giving and the way in which it is being given is as relevant to their audience as possible.
The best Social TV allows and empowers fans to direct the content and outcome of programming. Fans do not care much for gatekeepers.
Social TV is connecting fans to each other that want to share an exciting experience they’re seeing on the screen. They want to be around and interact with other people who care just as much about what’s taking place on the programme as they do.
Social TV thrives on events, shows that are special and held in higher esteem because they are “important” one-time only occurrences. Most of these event-style programmes are live, be they awards shows or sports. This mandates real-time interaction.
Social TV lets viewers witness their own interactions with the programme on the screen. Many shows incorporate crawls or live tweets that come in during the show. This is a very validating experience for viewers. Nobody wants to feel as if their tweets aren’t being read or ignored.
Social TV opens up access to hosts and stars by the show’s super-fans, who genuinely feel they deserve such access in return for their unshakeable passion for the show. Fans who take the time and effort to interact want to feel special.
The best-executed Social TV knows its target audience intimately and gears all social activities to it just as shows themselves are geared to its most enthused fan base.
Social TV is being conducted most effectively by networks that embrace social 100%. It is very difficult to maximise what Social TV can do with a halfhearted commitment to social as a whole. TV is supposed to be fun. Keeping viewers at arms length is an impediment to that fun.
The emergence of the second screen opens up expanded paid advertising and promotional opportunities for brands and advertisers. TV programmes are having to move beyond offering airtime inside of shows alone, and more toward offering an integrated combination of traditional and digital that follows the viewer from the first screen to the second.
According to Nielsen, 68% of tablet and 63% smartphone users are on their devices at least several times a week while watching TV. An Accenture report shows 33% of viewers who saw a social symbol on a show interacted in some way. TV Guide says 69% of viewers want to interact with other fans via social while watching a show.
The continuous level of interactivity and participation TV networks are establishing with their viewers provides a lesson for any brand seeking to establish those same kinds of impassioned relationships that can move their fans from like to love.
About the Author
Richard Beattie serves as Vice President, EMEA, for Vitrue, a social marketing platform. Beattie brings more than 15 years of international business software and technology experience spanning the SaaS space, including executive positions at Omniture and Mercado. At Vitrue, he is responsible for all strategic and operational aspects of Vitrue’s international business, including new business growth, channel development, as well as support of the existing global client base. Reporting directly to CEO & Founder Reggie Bradford, Beattie operates out of Vitrue’s London office.
Richard Beattie, Vice President, EMEA (for Vitrue)
Tel: 0207 550 5451
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