The Rise of #SocialTV

Note: This post originally appeared on Heather Whaling’s blog

As we all know, an occupational hazard of PR is never being able to take your “PR hat” off. This has even started to creep into one of my favorite pastimes, watching television. A product placement here, a really good 30-second spot there — that was the limit of brands joining the television experience. Now hashtags, GetGlue check-ins and live-tweeting are the next generation of ways for brands to reach consumers.

A prime example of this rise was this year’s Super Bowl. There 12.2 million social media comments, which was 6.8X growth from last year’s Super Bowl. The half-time alone was the 4th highest entertainment Social TV event with more than 862,000 comments. Social TV is definitely on the rise and I am really excited to “watch” this trend grow in 2012 and beyond.

I think my affinity for watching television can be traced back to my childhood. When I was younger I lived on a street with lots of kids my age. My mom loved to cook, and more often than not there were a few non-Shipp’s at the dinner table. After dinner everyone usually headed down to the TV in our living room to catch one show or another. My early memories of television are of it bringing people together.

For the past 15-20 years, TV has gone the opposite way. As more TVs have become present in the home, many of us find ourselves watching alone. But, are you actually alone when you have your smart phone and laptop? Due to this significant rise in social media and multi-screen viewing of television, we are seeing a significant shift in the way television is watched. It is once again bringing people together.

I mean, check out these numbers according to a Yahoo! And Razorfish survey of U.S. adults

  • 94% exchange email, send IMs, text, talk or social network while watching TV
  • 80% are mobile multitasking while watching TV
  • 15% are on their phones for the entire duration of programs

Many of us are tweeting, facebooking, checking-In and searching the web about the shows we’re watching.  We want to share our thoughts about these shows, and now television networks are starting to encourage the conversation. For example, shows feature hashtags in the bottom corner of the screen, which I’m sure many of you have seen. However, a few networks and shows are stepping up their game.

The Voice (NBC)

  • The Voice has a social media correspondent that is featured during the show. The correspondent usually highlights viewer tweets in live-time pulling the viewers into the show.
  • Each episode highlights tweets from the judges such as Adam Levine of Maroon 5 and Christina Agulara during the show. As the show and contestants grew in popularity the show took it a step further and highlighted contestants tweets as well.

The Walking Dead (AMC)

  • AMC has developed a talk show after The Walking Dead called The Talking Dead. This is a talk show with cast and celebrity appeances that is all things The Walking Dead. The smart social TV tie-in here is that viewers can post questions on the shows Facebook page or tweet questions to the show’s twitter handle @AMCTalkingDead. Additionally, the host of the show live-tweets with viewers after the show.

Suits and White Collar (USA)

  • The #Suits and #WhiteCollar hashtag will periodically be replaced by a question during a pivotal scene in each episode, such as “What would you do if you were Mike?” (I mean who doesn’t love a good call to action?!

How Brands Can Get Involved

As I put my “PR hat” back on, I am blown away by the enormous potential for brands to utilize these conversations. Unfortunately, I haven’t seen a lot of good examples.  Here are a few things to remember as you begin to brainstorm way to get your brand involved in the Social TV space.

  • Remember social is a party. Be a part of the conversation, but don’t dominate it.
  • Give viewers something they can’t get anywhere else. Whether it’s a product giveaway, exclusive content, featuring a user’s tweet on your Twitter brand page or traditional website – make it memorable and talkable.
  • Make sure the show supports your target. This may seem elementary, but it’s always worth reaffirming.

In addition to following the Social TV conversations on Twitter and Facebook, here are a few helpful resources you can leverage to become a part of the Social TV new trend.

Television has always had the ability to bring people together, just like me and the neighborhood kids when I was growing up. Combining that offline talkability with the immediate connection social media provides with your online community can generate significant social TV commentary. I predict that the sheer number of social media users talking about television presents a key opportunity. Brands that strategically interact with their consumers in the social TV space should reap big rewards in 2012.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.