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Social Media On TV: Tweeting With Your Shows!

Lionseye insights from AC Lion


Earlier this morning I attended PluggedIn Ventures Roundtable “Second Screens & Social TV” and it couldn’t have been better. I jotted a few notes and here’s a quick summary:

Social TV, a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction in either the context of watching television, or related to TV content is truly taking off and is the way of the future. While some have doubts there are already strong trends showing it will take over in the very near future (think of the hashtags in the corner of a show, by tweeting with that hashtag you not only can join in on relevant conversations, but you are also providing easy data points).

Rich Ullman moderating the convo.Currently, there are about 18 million unique social TV viewers and growing – social TV generates referrals and gives the advertisers the opportunity to hone in on a target market; according to Oliver Young of Blue Fin Labs, “Ads for social TV are meant to interact with the show, which create the organic word of mouth for advertisers.” There is nothing better than a word of mouth referral. From a consumer’s standpoint, I would much rather receive ads that discuss fantasy football than potpourri – it’s the same idea how Google sends you ads based on your Gmail conversations.Additionally, social TV benefits the networks and shows directly. For the first time ever, shows can figure out (almost instantaneously) where their content fails or succeeds. WWE Raw actually experimented with something similar with a “click to vote” idea. Essentially they asked the people in the arena to pick match-ups for later on in the evening; sure enough there was an overwhelming response (I know, how could you pick who fights who if wrestling is real – this is a whole different and important conversation that will hopefully be discussed at the next roundtable).  Giving your audience what they want is the smartest and simplest way to keep them coming back for more, a.k.a.: retention. A prime example of a successful social TV campaign is the show “The Walking Dead;” their social presence is unbelievable (they actually promote Twitter chats for the show, during the show!) and while it may not be the reason it’s the most tuned into show, it most definitely attracts viewers because of it – I know this because I am one of the many that began watching due to its social traction.On a very similar note, look at Old Spice (while some might consider them an outlier I see them as trailblazers), they took an intimate product and made it sexy and cool. This was done through their social TV campaigns and by making “cooler ads” – a simple yet true comment from the roundtable. One of the reasons why Old Spice exploded is because they themselves, as well as their ads, are relatable and interactive.

One interesting issue that was slightly broached was live TV – Twitter is a real time tool (about 60% of the time) and Tivo (or DVR) being the most amazing creation since television itself, takes us out of that real time element. A quote that was thrown out and stands true for just about anything, “People want the path of least resistance” and with television that translates into no commercials.  I would much rather watch a Chicago Bears game in an hour and a half instead of the 3 hours it takes for the live broadcast. That being said, according to David Markowitz of SecondScreen Networks, “Social TV will be good for advertisers over time. It forces the viewer to watch TV live to get the full effect.” This I firmly agree with, while I may strongly oppose commercials I am all for live friendly banter during a Chicago Bears game.

So Will Twitter ignite more real time TV viewers? I would bet on yes. People are already being active and seem to enjoy it; according to this Nielsen study a third of active Twitter users tweeted about TV related content and those numbers are growing.

Nielsen study on Tweeting with TV

Lastly, with all this talk about Twitter, one might wonder where the other social media powerhouse (Facebook) comes in – it doesn’t.  At least not until Facebook opens their data will they be able to compete with Twitter in the social TV world – to quote David Beck of Univision, “Facebook has to open up their firehouse to combat Twitter and their reach with TV.”

Bottom line: Social TV is a forward thinking venture that will ultimately prove majorly successful (and profitable) for the masses very soon; it also doesn’t hurt that Social TV was listed as one of the 10 most important emerging technologies by the MIT Technology Review in 2010.

Thanks to Eli Mandelbuam of PluggedIn Ventures for putting everything together; props to Rich Ullman for doing a fantastic job as the moderator and thank you to an impressive panel – it was an amazing conversation to be a fly on the wall for – looking forward to the next one!