Published on Tuesday, 04 June 2013 15:00
Since the explosion of Social Media around TV, particularly with Facebook and Twitter, its clear that audiences have a growing desire to commentate around their favourite show, both live and non live. Most of the major broadcasters and production companies are keen to hear ideas around what can be undertaken to utilise this social media buzz both on screen and online but there seems to be various areas that are preventing adoption that still seem to be continually arising.
What are these areas?
- Who foots the bill? - Traditionally social media has been considered a digital activity and therefore any creative concepts around the extended use of social are considered to be an online cost therefore when concepts that are being created are designed with the high end result and accompanied with shiny floor production values, having a physical viewer engagement presence in the studio leads to the lines becoming blurred as to who foots the bill. Clearly there needs to be a proportion of the show budget to be allocated to these new Social engagement features in order to promote adoption, which is currently not widespread.
- Who to approach? - Given the polarity between broadcasters in the UK as to who is, or isn't, championing this new part of TV means challenges arise as to who to approach internally to showcase what can be achieved for the broadcaster and/or production company. Senior execs within broadcasters who are exceptional at online and traditional digital competencies don't necessarily understand how this will work on screen and how to make this work in a traditional TV environment, and visa versa for those in production. There is a definite skill gap within some broadcasters to employ individuals that understand the social TV and engagement space as well has high production values and really allow them to push for creativity within this part of industry.
- Will our viewers like it? - Social Media articulation should be incorporated in the show only if it serves to enhance the programme editorial. If it looks like 'the interactive part' it's far from effective integration. As viewers and fans of the show, the opportunity to get their opinion, face or views on TV, even if the payoff is such that they can affect the outcome - being referred to in the show will almost certainly drive engagement and interaction. Even if some viewers have never used social media in their life providing social enhancements and visualisations that fit well tonally with the show will excite even the most novice of social audiences.
- Social TV can look nice but what else? - TV creatives still need to get more excited about the proposition of integrating social and viewer engagement. In some instances viewer interaction has been added to a show where detracts away for the high production values and show editorial, to the detriment of the show itself, mainly due to the pressure that 'we ought to have it' which can lead to bad application. Graphical overlays and lower third straps with tweets and Facebook comments, on the whole, look clunky and don't add any value to the show. Integration that works the best is where existing shows are empathetically enhanced by the engagement being visualised and engaged with by the presenters and hosts of a show where possible, in a visual and impactful way – remembering that not all viewers will be using social or indeed even understand what it is but by incorporating an interesting social commentary or a visualisation in studio will still enhance the viewing experience of all viewers – even if they are not interactively engaging themselves. Clearly viewer engagement lends itself to live shows given social is based around what is happening now, that said real time social media opinion can be delivered via live continuity around the shows or in promo airtime can be used to even greater effect for a snapshot of the live social engagement to be referenced. Even better however, and something that we have been working on, is for original formats where viewer/social engagement social is 'baked in' to the programme core which then assures, as it is an integral part of the format, that the interaction is represented and showcased in a full and developed fashion.
- Social Media costs the user nothing – Whats the ROI for us? - This is a question that is asked a great deal and can be a little difficult to answer considering at what phase we are at with adoption in the UK territory. After in studio articulations have been showcased and have proven successful, phase two would be to push these visualisations to the TV show or broadcasters digital assets which in turn allow for these environments to attract a further show sponsor - This is working exceptionally well in the US with shows like American Idol, where the community section, given the variation of engagement present allows for continual social activity during and post the live shows. Engagement needs to continue to happen after the broadcast of the show itself, by initiating different engagement mechanics on the shows official website makes it a far more lucrative sponsorship opportunity.
Viewer engagement and Social TV is going to be part of our broadcasting future and there are skilled creatives and niche businesses out there in this space that understand how this can happen and how to make it work for all parts of the broadcasting industry both creatively and commercially.
Social Engagement happens broadly due to memories, opinions and shared experiences that evoke emotional responses. The potential under these headings is huge - Fellow TV folk, lets just not look at it as just 140 characters - It can really be far more rewarding that!
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