Steve Godman: Unmasking Social TV Misconceptions

written by: Steve Godman

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This year has been billed by many as the year of Social TV. According to ComScore, 78% of smartphone owners use their mobile device at least once a month while watching TV. The investment by broadcasters like Sky and the BBC in Socially oriented programming such as Got To Dance and The Voice shows that Social TV is no longer an interesting innovation, but now a strategic play for a number of industry heavyweights.

Consumers are embracing Social TV, as are a handful of broadcasters, so why haven’t we seen more broadcasters grab the Social TV opportunity with both hands?

There are three perceptions that have dented confidence in the value of Social TV:

  1. Difficulty– Delivering Social TV is hard to do in terms of training, technology, and time.
  2. Technology– The technology to easily manage Social media interactions and complex campaigns doesn’t exist.
  3. Business– Beyond helping with audience engagement, the commercial opportunity isn’t clear.

We have worked closely with broadcasters such as Sky and the BBC on Social TV, and believe that it has incredible potential, beyond what we’re seeing today from even the most innovative broadcasters. We believe these perceptions are really misconceptions. Here’s why:

Broadcasters need to dedicate Social TV ownership internally. a producer with a mix of traditional broadcast and digital experience can build a knowledge base that will make delivering Social programming easier and more strategic. Heads of Social Media within broadcasters, like Ally Branley at Channel 4, are relatively new roles, showcasing that Social within TV is already being taken seriously.

By exploring Social elements at the planning stage, programming is easier to execute and delivers better value. Trying to tag on Social at a later stage creates complexity and won’t deliver results. The Social Mosaic we created for The Voice was developed at the planning stage to make viewers feel part of the show narrative. We took the prevalent Social commentators on the show, collected their profile images, and created a collage of The Voice’s logo, which was then displayed in the V-Room with messages read out by presenter Reggie Yates.

Creative and digital teams within TV are often segregated. They need to be brought together to ensure creative programming elements are closely integrated with Social media technology.This will simplify the delivery of Social TV content. Our Multi-Media console (MMC) is used by Sky 1’s creative and technical teams for Got To Dance where it brings together all incoming communication streams (Facebook, Twitter, SMS, MMS, Email) which are then published on a giant plasma wall and read out live by the presenter.

Social media technology can now deliver unprecedented audience understanding by gleaning demographic and sentiment information from Social interactions including an individual’s reach and “influence”. Broadcasters can get new insight into who the viewers are, where they are, what is engaging them and why. This data can be fed into CRM systems to drive future engagements across all channels.

The longer and more lucrative opportunity however is around advertising. Social TV allows broadcasters to monitor specific issues or items being discussed in the programme editorial, analyse the view demographic and offer advertising for related brands or products. The granular level of targeting allows broadcasters to charge a premium.

The potential we have seen working on shows like Got To Dance and The Voice has shown that Social TV can be more than a success, it can be a triumph. Social TV is revolutionising audience insight and allowing content producers to precisely target key demographics – the Holy Grail for brands and agencies. By using insight to generate revenues, broadcasters will begin to realise the full potential of Social TV – the question is who will be the first?

Steve Godman is Commercial Director, Brands Media and Agencies, at IMI Mobile. For more information please visit

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