How social media helps networks win the hearts of TV fans

It’s a bad time to be a traditional advertiser, but it’s a GREAT time to be a marketer. The old “stop and watch this” model is gone, as producers and creators must interact with the audience in new and exciting ways. Being part of the conversation and integrating into the experience of the show creates major opportunities.

Social media is no longer an "add on." It has to be at the heart of every show, and tools like Twitter offer many ways to move the social lever. As the global creative lead for TV at Twitter, I work with media colleagues around the world to help them tell stories and build audiences in new ways through our platform.

When I began my career in the 1980s as a comedy writer and producer, TV was still gentlemanly. The playing field was more like a track meet, with a set number of lanes, a start and finish line, and clear winners. The dawn of cable made TV even better (for the business and for fans) but turned the battle for TV dominance into a cross country race. Networks didn’t even have to finish on time, so long as they won among females 18-34 or another desirable demographic. And everyone got a medal (subscriber fees).

Today, it’s neither track nor cross-country, it’s parkour! Everyone is jumping over their own set of obstacles in a free form race across traditional and new platforms, from live to binge viewing, mobile to social. The audience can watch when they want, wherever they want, on multiple devices. They are in charge, and producers have to be entrepreneurs, kings of marketing and monetization, and masters of social media to get their loyalty and attention.

This week, we head toward MIPCOM, the global TV marketplace where thousands of international producers will gather to discuss the state of content across the world. And while there will be a large share of producers and networks playing the traditional game (bring on the “Singing Island Bachelor’s Wives” and its scripted variation…wait, that is scripted!) what’s exciting about this new TV landscape is the people who are jumping on the shift in media to take us in new directions.

So, how do you spot the "future winners" at this year's global TV marketplace?

Shows that are always on: A show is not just a show anymore, and the audience wants to experience that “brand” across multiple platforms, whenever and wherever they choose. According to Nielsen, almost a third of the Twitter conversation about a program happens outside of the live airing window. TV fans are looking for new forms of content on multiple platforms whenever they want to consume it. One hour a week is no longer enough.

Shows that have social talent: Audiences don’t want “top down” marketing. For the most successful shows, the cast and producers are prepared to be just one of the crowd. There is a 64% lift in conversation levels for shows that have cast members live-Tweeting during airings. Fans want shows that have been recommended to them, that they can share, that feel like part of their lives, and — the holy grail — that they feel they “own.”

Shows that empower and reward fans: All TV marketers understand the power of word of mouth, but the savviest ones know how to rally their fans to share the love on social. Twitter users, for example, are heavier TV viewers and influencers who are more likely to be asked for their opinions on shows and create social media content about them.

Shows that are authentic: Marketing is only a part of the equation. A meaningful relationship with fans is a two-way conversation that has to feel organic. Platforms like Vine and Periscope offer windows into the TV world that allow networks and stars to share experiences on and off set. Shows that share stars, ideas, concepts and even stories offer new ways for creatives to extend their storytelling and create a “hub” effect that is irresistible to fans.

Jon Landgraf from FX recently lamented that there was just too much good TV. Well, that might be true if the cornerstone of your model is date-and-time TV, but the producers who are going to win in the new world will live on every platform, provide their audience with a 6-second snack AND a 55-episode banquet, and be more creative and independent than ever.

The audience has the power. Offer to share it, and we all win.

Fred Graver (@fredgraver) is the creative lead for the global TV team at Twitter, Fred works with partners around the world to promote best practices with international production partners. Fred’s career spans comedy writing and producing (“Late Night With David Letterman,” “Cheers,” “In Living Color,” “The Daily Show With Jon Stewart”), interactive producing (The MY Vh1 Awards, ZoogDisney), and creating shows that span the web and television (“Best Week Ever”). He has seven Emmy nominations and has won three Emmys, as well as an NAACP award and a Webby.

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