Social TV: How Content Producers Can Engage Their Audiences in New Ways.
As social media matures, new opportunities are arising for content producers. Social TV, for instance, hasexploded in 2011. While terms like “cross-media” and “transmedia” have only started to become part of the media lexicon, technology advances are creating new opportunities for content creators and audiences to engage with one another – an experience I call “intermedia.”
The Growth of Social TV and the Dawn of Intermedia
Increasingly, social TV has viewers using platforms like Twitter to comment on and discuss their favorite shows. HBO’s True Blood, Oxygen’s Bad Girls Club and Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants, or landmark events such as presidential debates generate thousands of comments, and in some cases, hundreds of thousands. As social TV gains momentum, savvy networks like Bravo, MTV and The CW are poised to take advantage by engaging their audiences in new and compelling ways.
Then intermedia was born, the offspring of social TV and transmedia. Social TV provides a space for audience members to discuss a show, while transmedia encourages content producers to create stories that move across platforms. Therefore, intermedia means that audience members and content producers engage each other between media channels, often with content from one platform affecting content from the other.
Why You Need an Intermedia Strategy
While content producers are currently leading the way, brands will surely follow along the intermedia path, hungry for new, relevant ways to reach consumers. In the months to come, companies and their agencies will be looking to build intermedia strategies.
Overall, intermedia leverages several trends:
- Viewers are looking for more meaningful interaction with the shows they watch.
- Stars/celebrities are taking an active role in social media.
- Content producers are trying to engage viewers in new ways.
- A burgeoning group of social platforms are catering to various entertainment interests.
Read on to discover the components of an intermedia strategy plan.
1. What Does Success Look Like?
Before you embark, have a measurement of success for your program. Think about how you’ll measure the growth of the online community as well as show viewership. Look at quantitative metrics such as followers or retweets, but also observe more qualitative engagement like conversation sentiment. You may also be looking at other factors such as an increase in traffic to online or offline retail outlets for ancillary products such as merchandise or DVDs. Use intermedia as a tool to see what elements of a program are resonating most with the audience.
2. What Are Your Assets?
Do you have access to talent? Will that talent engage viewers as themselves or as their characters? What online owned media channels can you leverage? Does the show already have a Twitter account? Finally, archival footage, brand partners and physical venues can also become weapons in your intermedia arsenal.
3. What Sort of Intermedia Content Will You Develop?
While certain properties have an existing base of passionate fans (think Mad Men), new shows (like 2 Broke Girls) attempt to establish a strong initial relationship with their audiences. Understanding your audience will help determine the type of content you can create, whether by providing character back story or offering exclusive access to table readings from the actors. Ultimately you’ll be asking yourself: Am I trying to build deeper ties with those who already know my content, or am I trying to introduce myself to new, potential fans?
4. What Platforms Should You Use?
While Twitter is the obvious choice for intermedia engagement, it’s certainly not the only one. Sarah Hill, interactive anchor/reporter for KOMU-TV in Missouri uses live Google+ Hangouts during her broadcast.Turntable.fm, Skype and YouTube can all be leveraged similarly.
5. When Will This Happen?
Intermedia can be planned for a variety of experiences and settings, including music venues, sports stadiums and fashion shows. Producers can also use intermedia to reinvigorate classic programming; for instance, G4aired Star Trek 2.0 in 2006.
Companies like Social Guide and TV Dinner are making social TV engagement easier by developing mobile apps and engagement platforms respectively. Others such as Bluefin Labs show the value of social TV interaction through rigorous measurement.
For their season finale, Spike TV’s Deadliest Warrior integrated live segments of the show’s hosts, who answered tweeted questions and commented on real-time poll results taken from the show’s website. This dynamic approach helped land the show a Top 10 “Social TV” spot on SocialGuide.com for the night, edging out CBS social TV juggernaut Survivor.
ESPN is taking a more ambitious intermedia strategy with its NFL32 programming. The show airs Monday through Friday at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2, during which ESPN football analysts and insiders take questions from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. An #NFL32 hashtag keeps the conversation flowing alongside the @NFL32account.
As you can see, creating an intermedia program requires more aggressive tactics than a simple hashtag or a few Facebook video posts. Planning and maximizing assets using an intermedia strategy can drive real results.
Images courtesy of Flickr, wajakemek | rashdanothman, xJasonRogersx