If you’re a long-time fan of NBC’s The Office like me, you’ll remember Princess Unicorn circa 2008. She was the must-have, limited edition Christmastime doll that Dwight Schrute bought in mass quantity and sold at a markup to his Dunder Mifflin colleagues. What you might not have known is that the geniuses behind The Office built Princess Unicorn a relatively covert but hilarious online presence, a nascent example of NBC digitizing plot lines. TV show plot lines incorporate and even hinge on social engagement and interactivity in progressive and immediate ways. This has popularly become known as Social TV.
Why is Social TV important? In this week’s Friday Five, we’ll highlight the “best of” in recent Social TV examples and their implications for marketers.
This singing competition has taken social media integration to new levels – seeing impressive engagement and high program ratings. The Voice incorporates strategically timed on-air promotion of #TheVoice hashtag and live-tweet chyrons. Not only is there a dedicated social media room and correspondent who answers tweets and calls out show-specific trending topics live on-air, but all the celebrity hosts actively tweet before, during and after the show. Additionally, iTunes downloads of the performers’ songs count as votes. Several contestants have appeared in the Top 100 on iTunes.
Implication: It’s not enough to use social media as a marketing tool to generate awareness. You’ve got to embed it, wholly, into your communications strategy from production to broadcast to viewership and advertising. This is becoming the norm, well beyond the realm of the television medium.
Utilizing email, phone, Skype, Twitter and Facebook, host Andy Cohen answers fan questions live and provides a behind-the-scenes look at Bravo’s Real Housewives franchise. Many of Bravo’s original series align with Bravo’s social TV strategy, including Million Dollar Decorators, Rachel Zoe Project and Top Chef. On its website, the TweetTracker helps viewers engage through the sites interface.
Implication: Shared-viewing experiences like viewing parties are prolific. It’s up to marketers to figure out innovative ways to tap into this phenomenon and monetize it for their brands.
3. HBO Connect
While attending Mashable Connect 2011 this May, I had the opportunity to see Sabrina Caluori, director of marketing and social media at HBO, provide a sneak peak at HBO Connect. This “second screen” experience encompasses features like Pulse, Feeds, Visualizers, Conversations and Connections – all of which are touted to uniquely deepen the social experience around HBO’s most popular series, such as True Blood and Game of Thrones. Check out HBO’s other innovative initiatives in digital and social media.
Implication: TV networks are no longer satisfied with just getting fans to tweet about their programs and “like” their Facebook pages. Now, they are proactively connecting their fans and viewers with exclusive content, stars, writers and most importantly, each other.
4. Morning TV
In addition to its incorporation of social channels like Skype and Facebook, ITV’s This Morning recently introduced a 360-approach, literally. They’ve included a 360-degree camera that allows online viewers to select their preferred camera angle as they watch. Hosts also interact with fans live and crowdsource content for the program via its dedicated on-air interactive center, The Hub.
Implication: The days of passive TV viewership are long gone. Today, it’s participatory and on viewers’ own terms. If you don’t provide fans with the value they seek, they’ll find it elsewhere.
5. Late night
- Conan O’Brien hosted an online competition asking fans to write his official Twitter bio
- Conan also encourages viewers to take to YouTube to point out mistakes on his show, and features the best on-air
- Before introducing the world to its first late-night app, Jimmy Fallon had a sketch dedicated to absurd, fake mobile apps
- Jimmy Fallon also encourages fans to tweet using specific hashtags and reads his favorite on-air during his “Late Night Hashtags” sketch
Implication: Don’t forget that social media can be used for entertaining. It’s important to find the right use of the medium for your audience in order to not only engage them but also retain them.
Do you engage with Social TV? Who do you think is doing it best?
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