For one day, Infopresse magazine held open house for media professionals. They arrived with their new school bags and their shiny new program schedules. To turn the spotlight onto the social revolution that’s transforming television, the event organizers invited me to give a talk on Social TV.
On both sides of the border and of the Atlantic, television is generally embracing the public’s involvement with social media, an engagement which should generate a billion comments in 2011. In the under-25 age group, the phenomenon is booming, with 72% talking about their favorite TV show on social media while they watch.
Proliferating smart phones and tablets mean the second screen must be taken seriously. They provide a platform for the development of a new social connection with the viewer. iPad applications from NBC and the Discovery Channel are the best examples of this new interactive wave.
Broadcasters have held whole weeks of tweeting with their public – twivage in Quebec. After initially launching it this spring, CBS is experimenting again with this formula – a formula also adopted last week in a joint effort by Radio-Canada and ARTV.
Using highly organized hashtag strategies, networks are inviting viewers into a space dedicated to TV talk. This is how CW created Watch & Tweet to promote its shows. Quebec is keeping up with the trend: ARTV’s “L’échangeur” has a unique feature that lists all the great moments of social TV, whether on their network or on a competitor’s.
Social TV goes beyond Twitter. Facebook is also used by many programs. Moreover, the Facebook pages that receive the most love are TV show pages. Mashable has just published an article about new TV shows using social media strategies.
Ultimately, it is advertising that should best profit from the public’s social engagement. Remember the success of the Old Spice campaign on YouTube. Kraft adapted this for TV with Mac & Cheese sauce. TV ads in real time are fast approaching. The question is not whether the public is ready, but whether media professionals can respond fast enough to this need for engagement with the small screen.