As The Brit Awards returns to television tonight (21 February), the BPI and its social and digital agency Somethin' Else are doing everything they can to ensure it reaches more screens than ever before.
The awards are hosted at the 02 Arena for the eighth year in a row, led by host Jack Whitehall and boasting performances from Ed Sheeran, Stormzy, Justin Timberlake and Dua Lipa.
On the linear front, ITV's 2017 broadcast attracted 5.4m viewers and a 26.1% share of the time slot. It had suffered a 400,000 drop on 2016 although it was substantially higher than the lowpoint of 2014's 3.84m. However, it also boasted a 4% increase in the 16-34 year old demographic on the previous year.
In digital The Brits last year boasted 445m post-show views, across the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, Vevo, Shazam, Tumblr and, musical.ly. On Twitter, The Brits emoji was used some 2.6m times, Snapchat exceeded 12m viewers, and YouTube reached 1m live viewers.
Now, The Brits organisers hope to exceed these figures on all fronts. From its war room an extensive content schedule will run through Musical.ly, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat as shown below.
Figures from the BPI and Somethin' Else gave The Drum a run through its social media strategy.
On the inclusion of Musical.ly, a Chinese video app with a unique selling point centred around lip syncing and dancing, Tom Young, managing partner of Somethin’ Else, explained that it helped The Brits find a younger audience in 2017, and “going live to celebrate the start of the event day felt a great way to showcase its potential". This year, the platform’s “top Musers” will get involved in The Brits chat and help put a spotlight on occurences and music.
As part of this activity Brits-themed song folders and a hashtag challenge involving featured artists and The BRITs nominees have been implemented.
Soon after the intro on Musical.ly, the action jumps onto Instagram, where shots of the stars on the red carpet will be shared. Furthermore, an Instagram Story will be curated for later. As this is happening, a live broadcast will be shared on Facebook giving a more in-depth look at the comings and goings.
The main event will be broadcast on YouTube, except in home market the UK, where ITV has the rights. Twitter will capture the after-party and Snapchat will be updating throughout the day.
Dorothy Hui, vice president of digital at Sony Music UK and chair of the Brits Digital Committee, said the cross-platform strategy will be complementary to the main event with the ultimate aim of boosting its viewership. “With how broadcast and social media work together in a modern media landscape, many may begin experiencing the show through social first – or use social to complement viewing experience, so our strategy caters to audiences on each platform.”
Hui shined a light on one of the 2017 event's successes – gifs.
Getting short-form footage from The Brits into the Giphy network allowed social media users to share top moments across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, iMessage and beyond. Hui said that select Robbie Williams and Rag’n’Bone Man reaction gifs (below) from 2017 have garnered millions of views each. This is extra exposure for the awards where there would otherwise have been none.
But there has been a boatload of work to do before the big night.
Young said that media plan has been on the table since April 2017, giving Somethin’ Else time to work with the platforms to “execute our live strategy and tailor our creative approach for each”.
The agency’s executive producer Nan Davis said they have prepared for every eventuality and will run operations from a live newsroom environment housing around 80 staff. From here they will cover the build-up, the show and the reaction.
She added: “We can never predict what will happen on stage or on the red carpet but we can ensure we are there to capture it live.”
The social activations gain momentum in January during the nominations. The team have brought aboard "more influencers and artists... than ever before,” according to Hui.
The social media schedule is inarguably extensive. Nonetheless, Young revealed that the social “running order fell together quite naturally”.
He added: “In previous years, we have had huge success in areas such as the Facebook Red Carpet Live Stream and Worldwide YouTube broadcast that we wanted to build and grow.
"The opportunity to connect with a new audience on Musical.ly was too good to resist and the use of Instagram Live Withs and hosting a celebration piece on Twitter (the home of such high volumes of #BRITs interactions) completed the set perfectly.”
This year there are more live activations on social than ever before, Young underlines that this is the best way to get the awards into the feeds of potential viewers across the globe.
“We want that audience to continue to grow and continue to see the benefits of an all-encompassing strategy directly in their feeds. Success will be measured by reach, engagement and views.”
He was not of the mindset that this hive of activity may distract or win viewers from the linear broadcast.
Hui concluded: “Though we have live moments planned across platforms, each activity is scheduled with their own dedicated time and the messaging has been carefully planned – hopefully this will allow fans to join us throughout the day on one or multiple platforms of their choice.”
She underlined that the increased focus of digital activity will help “expand The Brits audience and create opportunities for conversation year-round”.