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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.


The Super Bowl Social

Super Bowl Sunday brings us big parties, a big game, and even bigger commercials.  Every year the bar seems to climb higher from a creativity standpoint and brands are reaching further to get something to resonate with consumers.  It seems more people come to work on Monday morning and discuss the commercials more than they do the game, which was certainly the case in my office today.  In fact the Super Bowl is the one day a year I use my DVR to rewind commercials and re-watch them rather that simply buzzing right by them.

This year I watched the highly anticipated commercials through a new lens.  I wanted to see just how big brands would leverage the use of social media to extend their overall reach and continue the conversation with consumers post view.  Last year it seemed as if the use of social within the realm of TV was just starting to take off, so I was confident the this year’s Super Bowl would be the spring board to really see some great integration.

To my surprise very few brands added this social layer to their commercials, when you look at all of those that purchased spots during the big game.  Perhaps there are still a lot of unknowns as the space is still relatively new.  Maybe when you are investing 3.5 million dollars on a 30 second television spot, you just stick with what works?  Or maybe you take a risk, try something different, and get people talking about your brand in a new way? I’m not saying I have the right answer, but in my opinion trying new things [although not without challenges] often pays off in spades.

Out of all of the commercials I saw yesterday only two brands chose to use a Twitter hashtag to get viewers buzzing about the commercial they just saw. What a great way to continue the conversation and buzz about the brand – Kudos to Audi [#SoLongVampires] and Bud Light [#MakeItPlatinum]. I am certain that both brands saw significant traffic to both their social channels as well as their websites post airing of these commercial with the integrated social layer – even if the hashtags chosen are sub-optimal and don’t really speak to the brand they represent. In this case I am talking about Audi’s play off the Vampire craze that is seemingly oozing out of pop culture in the wake of the Twilight series.  Not sure association with Vampires is a way to sell luxury automobiles, but it sure gets people talking about the brand. Mission accomplished Audi.

Coca-Cola leveraged their infamous polar bears, directing viewers to CokePolarBowl.com which took users to a custom Facebook app where you could watch the bear’s reactions to the big game.  The URL now re-directs viewers Coke’s YouTube channel that has been re-skinned to play off the polar bear theme.  A recent article on Ad-Age reports that more than 600,000 viewers were following the live stream of the Polar Bowl Facebook App by the third quarter.  Even the @CocaCola Twitter handle was turned over to the bears and Coke is reporting a 12.5% increase in US followers prior to kickoff.  This is a great example of how brands can look to extend both the conversation and consumer engagement beyond the realm of just television.

Another way I did see brands try and differentiate their commercials during the Super Bowl this year, was by use of a 3rd party app accessible on any Smartphone or tablet.  It was clear these brands such as Pepsi, Best Buy, and Toyota were trying to reach those with connected devices and serve them additional messages.  The app these brands turned to was called Shazam, which when activated listens to the audio track of a song, or in this case commercial, the can serve up the name, artist info, and in this case exclusive content only those that engaged with the commercial by way of the Shazam app, could experience.  While I am an avid user of the app, I can’t see myself reaching in my pocket for my phone, accessing the app, and recording the audio from the commercial in an effort to get a nugget of new content.  Heck, it takes me more than 30 seconds to get my phone out of my pocket sometimes.  Although this approach of integrating Shazam into the commercial didn’t resonate much with me personally, I applaud these brands efforts for thinking differently and trying something new. In hindsight I could have leveraged that good old DVR to dig deeper on this one and Shazam! Get that exclusive content.

This years Super Bowl commercials are only the beginning.  I predict [and I’m sure many others in the social business realm do as well] that social integration will continue to gain traction and popularity thus finding a home within television commercials.  We’re even beginning to see a shift in how TV is broadcast to us adding in social elements, like live tweets and Facebook updates from sports journalists, news anchors, and even politicians.  This can be seen during many a televised game, news broadcast, or even your favorite reality TV show.  Commercials are not far behind, as more and more brands look to increase visibility, share of voice, and connect deeper with consumers; the social advertising layer will become a new norm.

 

 


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