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How Will Social Continue to Integrate With Television in 2013?

The idea of integrating social components into television gained significant traction in 2012.  In addition to TV, marketers understand how important the second and third screens are in consumers’ lives, and are working to make it easier for them to discover content, learn about products, and ultimately make a purchase.  Smartphone ownership is over 50% and tablet ownership is over 25% among U.S. adults and is growing at a significant pace, as access to these technologies becomes easier and less expensive.  This new connectivity is changing how consumers are engaging with traditional media like television, radio, and print.  Their wireless device is almost certainly in hand or within reach, allowing them to research, converse, and engage with brands and others around the globe in a way that was not possible before.

As the year went on the on air social progression moved at a quick pace.  Brands continued to tag the ends of their commercial spots with social media icons communicating to viewers “hey we’re social”, to integrating full social campaign brand messaging into commercial spots.  Social user generated content like status updates, tweets, and photos; also saw their debut in some branded commercials, further demonstrating the importance of making the consumer feel like they are a part of the conversation.  Live television also saw a transition, as news broadcasts, political events, and sporting events made a move from simply listing the on screen Twitter @Handles of the speakers, to the use of on screen hastags to inspire the online conversation.  During the latter half of 2012 live television transitioned again to current state of actually syndicating the user generated content on screen which captured and displayed the real time conversation happening on social networks. Making strides to stay relevant and be a part of the conversation.

With that said I am confident that in 2012 the use of social components on television aided in extending the conversation around shows, brands, and products. Consumers took to social communities built by television programs and brands, and did so with relative ease; as their smartphones and tablets were within reach at all times. These new real time social connections allowed consumers to get more out of the viewing experience as they had opportunity to share reactions, thoughts, product reviews, and were provide a forum to connect with others that shared a similar interest.  While television added more social functionality in 2012, I think we’ve just seen the tip of the iceberg on what is possible, and I am excited to see what’s next.

 

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So what is next for television as it pertains to social?

I’ve been thinking about this for awhile now, and have some thoughts on what would make the experience even richer for viewers/consumers as social integration with television evolves in 2013.

Choose Your Own Adventure.  These books we’re wildly popular when I was a kid, perhaps there is something that can be derived from theses stories in the television space?  I’d like to see broadcasts leverage social voting by way of hashtag (Ex. #OptionA or #OptionB) to help viewers create the story line for popular shows.  Directors would use social suggestions to create the plot twists to the shows. I suspect viewers would be highly engaged in the process, and continue to tune in each week to see how the story line plays out.

Big Data.  The sheer volume of conversation happening around any one television show or commercial that uses a hashtag is astonishing.  Keeping this in mind, all of this conversation is public domain, and can be harvested by anyone with some time and a few basic social listening tools.  The wealth of information that can be derived out of these conversations is limitless.  Brands should be looking at this as a way to learn more about their customers/prospects, help them to segment, identify trends, and target the right ads (relevance) at the right time (timeliness) by way of paid social (scale).

Meet The Cast.  Have you even wondered what it would be like to meet your favorite star?  I’d like to see the cast of the show engaging in social with viewers during the broadcasts.  Think about the lift in online/offline conversations those shows would see if viewers knew the stars of the show would be talking with them during/after the show. The buzz from this action would extend well beyond the social space and into water cooler conversation, as people return to their day to day, and share the excitement around their favorite star tweeting them during the show.

Move Beyond The Hashtag.  While the hastag has been a staple way to connect viewers online as well as aggregate and measure conversation, I’d like to see brands and television programs think about new ways to spark conversation and gain comprehensive data.  There is no shortage of social platforms, and am excited to see the kinds of creativity that could be unleashed if fresh ideas to achieve engage were implemented.

Cross Platform Integration. Television shows often try and contain where the social conversation happens (Ex. hashtags).  Rather than restrict where your viewers talk, empower them to talk openly, everywhere.  I’d like to see programs look at ways to integrate other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Foursquare (to name a few), in addition to Twitter. Opening up the discussion will bring in more viewers willing to engage on the social platforms they are the most comfortable with.  For marketers that are looking for insights into the conversations happening across all social platforms, they are accessible via enterprise level social listening tools. Sticking to just a hashtag, seems like an easy way out – well at least not the most creative.

Exclusive Content.  Encourage viewers to watch with tablets and smartphones, then engage via social during broadcast. In return provide them exclusive content, unseen footage, behind the scenes access, first views of trailers, etc.  Making the social community around the show/brand feel special and elite, will spark loyalty and generate even more buzz about the show/brand.

I am excited for what 2013 holds as social evolves and is incorporated even more into our television experience. Unique second screen integration will be critical for television programs and brands to differentiate, and reach consumers on their terms.

Have an idea you’d like to see this coming year as social integrates with television?  Share it below in the comments.


Advocacy’s Effect on a Brand

Recently I have been doing a significant amount of research on consumer advocacy.  Through my late night Google search binges, I stumbled upon this insightful video on advocacy featuring Associate Arts Professor at NIU, Clay Shirky. His video really resonated with me on the sheer power advocates have as influencers over how others perceive brands.

Shirky teaches a class on the Theory and Practice of Social Media, which to my amazement is also now an actual subject available to students at many major Universities.  I’m wishing something as applicable as this was available for students even just a few years ago.  However that was well before the social media boom and before companies actually adopted the use of social technologies to improve how they connected with customers, created internal efficiencies, and increased profitability.  To be honest, this is something that I feel should even be brought into the educational system at an even earlier point, as having a skill set relatable to a social business is an invaluable asset to those joining the workforce in today’s connected world.

Within Shirky’s video he highlights the differences present between implicit and explicit consumer advocacy, along with the relationship between the two.  There is a clear halo effect that exists as more people implement a brand as part of their lifestyle (explicit), which then yields higher social proof that people are in fact actually using that product or service (implicit).  This connection between implicit and explicit advocacy will only continue to rise as people’s use of new and existing social networks continue on the upward trend.  The sheer size of people’s individual networks and overall reach also continues to exponentially grow.  In today’s connected world just one individual can have significant influence on the purchasing decisions of thousands based on how socially connected they are, something brands in years past never had to overcome.

After thinking about Shirky’s message in the video, it also re-affirmed a theme many social business thought leaders bring up; that brands are no longer in control.  At one point not to long ago, brands had the ability to control the message within the market place.  Yet in the current environment, where everyone has a voice by way of various social media channels, brands can only really influence that message.  Organizations that realize this by dialing up their social engagement, becoming more transparent, and leveraging their advocates will find themselves in a stronger position.  In parallel, brands that uncover how to truly empower their greatest consumer advocates will find an advantage.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on advocacy.  Is there a particular brand you advocate for and why?  How frequently does someone in your social circle influence one of your  purchasing decisions?


Quality Over Quantity When Building Community

Lately I’ve been both thinking  a lot about community.  There’s an awful lot of buzz out there on what the most important aspect of community truly is. Some believe it’s the sheer number of followers, likes, friends, etc.  Many push out copy and content that is irrelevant to the community they are serving, just for the sake of regurgitating something to the masses; upping their tweet count and Facebook posts, and hoping to increase their search rankings. Although the thought of having the “most” is intriguing, I am not so sure that it’s the best way to go about things.

Let’s take a step back here, and think about an example I’m sure we can all relate to.  High school; where popularity was king.  Many of us spent four years fighting to have the most friends, feel included, and to make sure people knew who we were.  Quantity over quality was the teenage mindset.  Looking back in time, it all seems a bit foolish.  After all, how many of us now are still friends with everyone that we went to high school with?  The friends we focused so much time and energy to impress and accumulate aren’t relevant anymore, or in some cases are now all just Facebook connections we rarely if ever talk to.  The fact is the few people who really matter are still in your life.  It’s that group of a select few (the quality relationships).that stood the test of time and you are proud to still have connections with.

The same can be said for how we look at the communities sprouting up all over the internet through various social platforms.  Why is it the same?  It’s because at the core of it all we are still dealing with people.  That has not changed. Although, the way we communicate with each other is continuously evolving. Ten, even five years ago who would have thought we could be friends with and communicate with a brand like we do now via social networks.  Relationships with both friends and brands alike are not immune to falling apart if the quality isn’t there.  The number of likes, followers, and friends doesn’t matter so much; or rather it’s not the only thing that matters.  What does matter is the richness of the relationship that you have with each of them.

People are attracted to the idea of a social network, group, community, because they bring people together.  But with all relationships (both with individuals and brands) it’s the quality of the relationships that we have that keep us coming back for more.  The communities that will be successful long term will be those focused on providing a sense of richness, value, and purpose for their members. Those communities/ brands that are wondering why business results are stagnant, customer complaints are high or people have just lost interest are still just focused on the quantity of it all.

*Photo Credit http://bostinnovation.com


From Tragedy to Triumph: A Social Media Win in Milwaukee, WI

Imagine with me for a moment…

After a series of storms, which made road travel nearly impossible, you choose to stay the night at a relative’s house to ensure your family’s safety. The next day you’re excited to return to your residence which was just made officially a home as you welcomed a new baby to the world just months earlier. Life is good for your young family, and the future is looking pretty bright. Morning now, the rain has passed and you start your journey home; only to realize as you drive through your neighborhood that something’s not right. Piles of wet carpet, garbage, and damaged furniture line the street leading up to your home.

Thoughts of happiness turn to quickly fear and uncertainty as it is clear the neighborhood was flooded during last nights storm. You pull into your drive way, sick, realizing you had no basement, and are reluctant to open the door to your family home for fear of facing reality. Eventually you muster the courage to enter your abode, yet what you find is surreal. The flood waters clearly breached the dwelling and reached depths of 2-3 ft throughout. Your home, now severely damaged and unlivable is completely destroyed.

The dream is gone.

Not knowing where to start, you make several calls to your insurance company, at least they can help.  Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse your agent delivers a below the belt punch and tells you the damage to your home is not covered. You don’t have flood insurance, says your agent, thanks for playing, we wish you well in your future endeavors.  Flood insurance?  Why would you ever consider flood coverage? As you live no where close to a lake or river.  Maybe there is hope? What about FEMA? Wrong! The damage was not substantial enough to qualify (at least for right now).  What would your young newly formed family do now? There is no way possible you could afford to rebuild your home without taking out significant loans, and becoming overrun by debt.  Luck, if there is such a thing has run out.


*Photo Credit: www.teecycle.org*

Unfortunately the above story was a sad reality for the Cigelske’s, a Milwaukee area family, during the #BrewCityFlood in July 2010. Not knowing what to do or which way to turn, Tim Cigelske shared his story in a touching blog post via Twitter, which prompted many on the tightly woven online community to ask how they could help.  Tim (@teecycletim) is no stranger to social media heading up online communications for Marquette University, and founder of Teecycle.org where his company sells reclaimed t-shirts and donates a portion of the proceeds to help save urban rivers and trails in Milwaukee.  Naturally he wanted to share his experience with his connections online. What was about to ensue over the next month went beyond his family’s wildest dreams, and brought an online community closer together in an effort to help rebuild the Cigelske family home and help #saveteecycle.

The link to Tim’s initial blog post quickly spread throughout Wisconsin and beyond via Twitter, where several people, strangers really, were quick to ask how they could help.  A group in Indiana even sent the Cigelske’s an ample supply of baby supplies to help alleviate at least once necessity at the top of the young family’s mind.  Soon after the story was circulated two members of the Milwaukee area Twitter community truly came to the forefront in an effort to help this family get back on their feet.  Enter complete strangers, Sue Spaight (@suespaight) and Katie Klein-Murphy (@bootyp) and the birth of www.saveteecycle.org.

*Photo Credit: Troy Freund – Midwest Photo*

Together these two women realized a need to step up, and took immediate action to make things right for this family.  At first Sue and Katie started a website explaining the Cigelske’s story along with a link to accept donations to aide in the rebuilding of their home.  The website generated significant traffic and received an outpouring of support, including donations both personal and corporate. What happened next took me by surprise, as it’s not to often you see complete strangers make it their mission to help each other. The website served as a catalyst for greatness, creating even more interest in helping to get the Cigelske family back home.

With more awareness came an increase in people “tweeting” about the cause. This in turn inspired several businesses and individuals to partner with Sue, Katie, and www.saveteecycle.org to rebuild the Cigelske’s home. In a generous donation the Cigelske family received all new windows for their home, from Renewal by Andersen.  Another one of the key players in rehabilitating the Cigelske home was William Ryan Homes represented by Craig Vermeulen (@WilliamRyanRE).  As an avid member of the local Twitter community Craig knew he needed to do what he could to help this family in need.

Craig leveraged his connection to William Ryan Homes, and was able to donate all of the labor, and purchase supplies at contractor prices, in an effort to rebuild the Cigelske’s home. Craig and his team of contractors worked on this project before and after hours for several weeks, rehabilitating the destroyed home to it’s original glory. When I asked Craig why he worked so hard to help the Cigelske’s his answer spoke to his remarkable character. “I helped because I could…it was the right thing to do.  If my family was in a similar position, I know someone would do the same for us.”

Additional steps were taken by Sue and Katie in an effort to make things whole again for the Cigelske’s.  They planned a benefit on September 18, 2010 for the family to raise additional funds to ensure the costs to rebuild the home were covered.  With hard work these amazing women secured some solid partnerships ensuring the benefit would be a success.  Sprecher Brewery graciously offered to donate the venue, creating a perfect atmosphere for the benefit. Delicious food was donated for the event by COA (@GetCOA) in Milwaukee, who also donated a portion of their restaurant sales to the #saveteecycle fund. COA specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine, so needless to say this stuff was tasty, and was a big hit among guests at the event.  Sue and Katie also secured an extensive array of silent auction, and raffle items from various individuals and businesses throughout the community.  A final tally of supporters for the #Saveteecycle event puts attendance north of 200 people.  I truly feel passionately that because of Sue Spaight’s and Katie Klein-Murphy’s unselfishness and stewardship, a deserving family was saved from tragedy. Their courage to stand up, take charge, and make things happen for the Cigelske’s (at the time total strangers), is an inspiration and a triumph for Milwaukee’s social media scene.

The #SaveTeecycle benefit accomplished several things looking back now. First and foremost, the Cigelske’s can now move home!  Craig Vermeulen and his team at William Ryan Homes, finished the rehabilitation and were able to turn the keys over to a family that hasn’t been home in months. The big reveal was viewed at the benefit live, via video from Dan Wilde (@dwilde), to the surprise of all in attendance (watch the reveal here) (Fantastic work with the video Dan).  With the generosity of the community through various ways of donating, all of the costs of the rehab were covered. Additional funds collected will go to help neighboring families that also suffered loss due to the <a hr


The 2010 #WaukeshaTweetup

June 11, 2010 my daughter Lillian was born, which allowed me to take some time off of work.  Enjoying the time I was able to spend with my wife, and new baby, I quickly learned how much of a non schedule babies keep.  I found myself up at different hours than I was used to helping to care for the new addition to our family.  I loved every minute of it and still do, yet as I had down time I found it harder to rest and or sleep as I wanted to watch Lillian constantly.  To this day I am amazed by her beauty curiosity, and innocence.  Along with the down time I had while she slept, I had time to think about relationships a lot.  Relationships with my wife, newly formed family, friends, online connections, ect.  I thought about improving those relationships, making new connections, networking, and bringing people together.

One night, while watching my daughter sleep, the idea for the #WaukeshaTweetup was born.


Now that I had a few weeks off from work, I started to think about a local venue in Waukesha County that was both on   Twitter and that would be seen as a top class establishment.  I immediately gravitated towards Piano Blu on Pewaukee Lake.  Having dined there in the past I knew it had the atmosphere that others would appreciate, had great food, and a spectacular view of the Lake from the private room upstairs (The Rhino Room – getting its name from the enormous Rhinoceros head mounted above the fireplace).  I emailed the owners about my idea for the event, it was quickly embraced and planning commenced.

Together Penny Schultz (Marketing and Event Planner for Piano Blu) and I came up with a plan of what this event could and should look like.  We also partnered with a Local Social Media trainer Katie Felten, of MKELive, to both bring more awareness to the event and be a resource for guests that had questions on social media.  In my opinion this was a great move seeing as how Katie is so well connected in the Milwaukee area, she helped us spread the word to our neighboring community to the east.  Going into the event the restaurant set a goal of 20-25 attendees and a date of 8/4/2010 was set for the event.  After the initial planning meeting we had 1 month to promote the event.  Go time – The Twtvite went live!  As the restaurant was relatively new to the social media space, I took the lead promoting the event through Twitter, and was amazed at just how quickly the event was embraced by the online community.

Within two weeks of the invite being sent out and the event being promoted on Twitter we had already achieved the goal of 20 confirmed RSVP’s.  Both myself and Piano Blu were very excited, and starting to think of ways that we could enhance the event even further.  On the restaurant side, Penny began to formulate a plan with the Chef for what to serve our guests at the event.  As we still had some time before the actual event, she  helped to plant the seed with Chef and get him thinking about what to prepare.  Knowing in addition to food we needed great signage and name badges, I reached out to Chris Sherman (@Amerisign) owner of Amerisign and Graphics for help with these.  He gladly partnered with us to make these items, and they turned out top notch. I can’t thank Chris and his team enough for the work they put into the items for The Waukesha Tweetup.  If you have a future printing need yourself I highly recommend you work with Chris Sherman at Amerisign and Graphics – They will not disappoint.

Fast forward – one week until the event.  We are now @ 60 plus RSVP’s and the tweets regarding it are becoming more frequent.  Penny of Piano Blu and I are texting regularly now, updating each other on new names to the list.  Needless to say the excitement of the event has taken over.  I continue to promote the event via Twitter, and get the support of the online community to help spread the work and keep the interest high.

One day before the event – We received a surprise from one our local area businesses, North Shore Bank (@NorthShoreBank).  Tim Gluth (@tiglu) and Kate Knox (@LAXgirl) of North Shore Bank contacted me regarding the possibility of contributing some door prizes for the event.  Up until now it was not really discussed as Piano Blu and I were focused on ensuring we had a solid menu as well as people in attendance. To be honest, I overlooked the importance of having some give away items for our guests.  Tim and Katie came through in a big way for the #WaukeshaTweetup rounding up several great items from local business for us to raffle off at the event.  North Shore Bank, Dunn Bros Coffee, Attitude Sports, Footprints, and U.S. Cellular® were the businesses rounding out the donors for the event.  I cannot thank Tim and Kate enough for their efforts in securing these items and helping to enhance the experience that our guests had while in attendance at the #WaukeshaTweetup.

Additionally with one day until go time we added 15 RSVP’s to the list bringing us to 75 guests. At this point, I cannot believe the interest that resides within in the Twitter community!  I also start tweeting about the amazing Tapas items that Chef Oscar of Piano Blu was going to be serving our guests.  The menu to follow below:

  • Bronzed salmon w/ avocado aioli.
  • Braised Duck Breast w/ a “sexy” berry reduction on jasmine rice.
  • Sweet Potato Fries Served w/ Caribbean aioli.
  • Artisan Cheese Display (Assorted local WI cheeses served w/ crackers, grapes, & assorted nuts)
  • Wild Mushroom Potato Pan Cake Served w/ tomato carta basil relish.
  • Mini Blue Crab Cake atop mixed greens, topped w/ onion crisps, & chipotle tartar sauce

 

The food tweets alone were a big hit, as they received many positive responses, re-tweets, and created even more excitement around the event.  So much so, the morning of the event we were @ 83 RSVP’s.  Not a bad go around for us first timers hosting what is shaping up to be one of the biggest tweetups around.

Nervousness sets in now – they’re all signed up but will they show?

August 4th 2010 it’s #WaukeshaTweetup Time. I arrive about 4:30pm at Piano Blu to help set up the upstairs room we have for our venue.  I am excited to see the amazing view of the lake which spans the entire length of the Rhino Room. Impressive I thought – really stoked to hear what our guests will think. After minimal setup we were ready, and 6pm could not get here quick enough.  I was so anxious to see if all of our efforts would in fact pay off. Now 6pm the Twitter community of Waukesha County swarmed on Piano Blu where guests arrived in groups.  Over the next hour we would welcome 75 unique Twitter characters to Piano Blu and the #WaukeshaTweetup.  I could not be happier, and I am certain that Piano Blu felt the emotions I had experienced as well.  After all, here are 75 people all with large circles of influence that are now experiencing all that the restaurant has to offer, from the amazing food and cocktails,  to the exceptional atmosphere the restaurant has created.

Live tweets are being displayed on a plasma TV by the bar, which is drawing quite the crowd.  As I look around I notice several people every time starring at their smartphone tweeting about the event, the food, the venue, or the wonderful person they just met face to face.  I saw a statistic later that night – that the hashtag #WaukeshaTweetup was in the top five trending topics for Wisconsin that evening.  For me this is what the event was about.  I could some it up in two words – building relationships.  Those same relationships I was thinking about while watching my daughter sleep just one month ago, are now becoming real.  Not only just for me but for all of the other guests too.  People are connecting – I have done what I set out to do.

I made it a point to engage with everyone who attended in some way, albeit difficult as it’s hard to work a room of 75 people in three hours and have effective and meaningful conversations with each of them.  I did my best to make sure that all guests felt welcome, and that they had the opportunity to participate and network face to face with those they follow in the online world.  In the time I spent mingling, I observed an amazing energy in the room as people were connecting in robust dialogues about life, children, business, food, Piano Blu, and of course Twitter.  We paused briefly during the event to raffle off the fantastic prizes from area business.  I called upon our good friend Jim Raffel (@Raffel) to help us with our door prize raffle which received a laugh from the guests.  He did a great job – and thanks for being a good sport Jim!

Just as fast as the event started, it came to a close. I glanced at my BlackBerry® and noticed it was already 10pm.  We had a few remaining guests enjoying some wine and engaging in conversations about what else, you guessed it, Twitter. Tom Snyder (@Triverguy) had busted out the laptop and was giving a clinic on his preferred Twitter clients to the small group that remained.  I sat in for a moment, absorbed what I could, and eventually re-connected with Penny Schultz of Piano Blu.

Together we recapped the event, discussed what went well, and what we would do different the next time.  Both of us agreed on one thing though, the success of the #WaukeshaTweetup.  Never in our wildest dreams did we think the event would grow to this size and receive the support from the local businesses that it did.  From the bottom of my heart I want to personally thank each and every one of you who came out to support the event, donated your time or resources to make it happen, or simply just tweeted about it.  It was because of your efforts the event was a smashing success.  Thank You.


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