Integrating TV and social networks.

26 Mar

by Georgina Leggate @GeorginaLeggate

Multi tasking, multi media, multiple screens…..No longer does our generation sit down and watch a program from start to finish without tweeting our friends, or updating our Facebook status’. We actively switch our eyes from one screen to another, whenever we sit down to ‘watch’ a television program ! A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching the TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. It’s just the norm. Facebooking and Tweeting whilst watching the telly is something we all do. It is how we communicate our ideas and it gives the viewers a chance to give their opinion on something, or let the organisers or broadcasters know what their audiences are thinking. More importantly than that though is social media enables TV executives to engage with their existing audience.

Some would argue (me included) that the resposes from these sites are sources of journalism in themselves. However informal they may seem to a person sitting at home, they are confirmed reports on an issue, a person, a program and they shape the way broadcasters consider output. It also enables the broadcasters to act on what their viewers’ responses are. These comments and the feedback which is collected  is data journalism in its rawest form.

So let’s say it’s a parallel; social networks working along side television. Our generation of TV watchers have been the first to see social networks intergrated into TV. Regularly now, we are asked to tweet about a program or to send our responses to the program in via Twitter. Texting or calling chat shows, is most defintely old news. What we’re watching out for now is not only social networking in TV,(we see that regularly on ‘@Question Time, @BBC Breakfast, @Daybreak, @Channel4news or Sky’s famous @AdamBoulton &co!) but how the likes of Facebook and Twitter can be integrated to create an interactive show. However this is something very big and it has its complications. On 28th Febraury 2011 the ban on TV product placement, in the UK, was lifted. Thus allowing advertiserers to pay for their goods to be seen on British TV for the first time ever..but what happens if social media complicates matters more?!

Say, for example, Colgate toothpaste is used in a popular soap opera such as Coronation Street (strange example I know, but bare with me!) Given that products can’t be given undue prominence during the show, and may only be given a fleeting moment on screen to avoid programmes becoming ‘brand vehicles’, could the association be further highlighted through social media? Could Colgate use social media in a way that utilises its connection with Coronation Street to help increase consumer recall?

It’s an issue which both concerns and exites me. On the one hand I think that it is an exciting development in the world of social networking! On the other it hasn’t yet been proved to be a success. In America NBC (The National Broadcasting Company) has created a brand new network loyalty program in which social media plays a starring role. ‘Fan It’ is a social media platform that rewards users who promote and discuss NBC shows. (on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc.) The endeavour is a network-wide initiative designed to leverage the presence of show fans on social networks and incentivise them with points for engaging with content eg. watching and ‘liking’ shows, chatting and recruiting friends. All in a bid to get their viewers interacting with the TV networks and subsequently getting more publicity and becoming more popular.

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