Fast Company

Socially Networked Content: Why TV & Film Need Social Media

black snake moan on tv with cat

A lot has been said about radio 3.0 and TV 3.0, but what does it all mean?

Some like my friend Jeff Pulver are calling this period of convergence Now Media (Old Media + New Media = NOW Media). Essentially the fusion of both old media and new media and thus the creation of a new media channel.

What does the experience of watching TV, listening to the radio, and movie-going look like when you add social media and mobile? How will producers, writers, programmers and even the creative community adjust to meet and satiate an appetite that says "I want it now, I want it here, I want it on my terms and I want to be able to tell my friends how good this show/movie/program is?"

Last year my new friends at Networked Insights released a study "Measuring The Social" that proves some interesting trends. For decades, we've relied on Nielsen ratings to judge the popularity of television shows. The Networked Insights research compared the Top 10 Nielsen shows to the Networked Insights list of Top 10 shows with social interactions (reading, rating, sharing, linking and inviting). The findings were incredibly insightful. Half of the Top shows with social interactions do not appear on the Top 10 Nielsen list. The show Criminal Minds (Family Plug: Criminal Minds co-stars this author's cousin Shemar Moore) does not appear on Nielsen Top 10 list but is the second highest rated on Networked Insights list.

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"You have a generation that grew up in an industrial age mass productions, large institutions, standardizations....Now you have a new generation that does not respond to that structure . It's built on demassification, individualism, and customization. Television at its core, is designed to push content to the masses, and is not designed for telling stories and disseminating information...at least not like net" ("Is TV Driving Social Media's Success"...Michael Hackmer)

I contend that the most popular shows are not those with the most viewers, but rather the shows that create the most conversations online. These are the shows that advertisers should be crawling all over. New and unique ways to engage consumers. For example, when I watch the show "24" I'm chatting about the show on Twitter and Facebook with thousands of other fans. On weekends, I have been appearing on CNN as an on-air expert providing social media commentary on the weekly news stories and use an alternative channel strategy. While shooting my CNN segment via Skype, I simultaneously use another camera to stream live via my own branded channel on Ustream. When my segment is finished on CNN, I often stay on for 2 hours engaging my audience in a deeper discussion around the stories I just discussed. Recent coverage of Professor Gates' arrest and conversations in my alternative channel led to creation of a Twitter Hashtag (#TRIA-Talking Race In America), Facebook Group, and conversation that is still happening today. Why do I take this approach? Because the content has created a conversation that I want to encourage and expand the life of and social media offers that like nothing else. So the question is how do you produce media for a multi-minding, multi-screen audience? Or rather the question should be posed, how do you produce television when the advertisers begin to truly start valuing and pay for social interactions?

The product manufacturers clearly understand that their consumer is using their product with a laptop or mobile device on their lap. Vizio will release a line of TVs with Twitter and Facebook built in. IBM is seeking a patent for a remote control that would control your Facebook, Twitter and blogging experience. The remote control would allow users to "autoblog" whatever they're watching at the time. Not to be outdone both Comcast and TimeWarner along with Verizon and TimeWarner are both launching concepts called TV Everywhere. Like so many companies, the cable/Internet duos are trying to take their content to the laptop but the problem is they don't know what to do with it when it gets there. The solutions for the back channel are not as simple as replicating the same TV content on my laptop. In fact on second thought I don't want Comcast to bring my TV content to my laptop because I'm using my laptop for Facebook/Twitter, to research and connect with my friends. Besides I'd rather watch my shows on my HDTV. The success of Hulu has created an envious halo effect, however many cable operators and networks fail to see that the best shows are those creating conversations and thus that should be their primary goal for the audience experience.

The opportunity for TV/Film to be driving and facilitating conversations has never been greater. As the U.S. Ad spending is taking a tumble the networks and studios have no choice but to be creative to meet the new demands of advertisers who are consistently looking for new models of engagement. Hopefully this will result in greater usages of social media tools in a new era of "socially networked" content.

Read more of James Andrews' blog on Fast Company

James AndrewsJames Andrews is a managing partner at Everywhere specializing in the creation of social media strategies, online communications, and Web content production. Everywhere is a strategic communication agency that focuses in helping brands and individuals navigate the social media and online space to build better connections with their audiences. Its clients include Delta, Jane Fonda, Jermaine Dupri, Sanaa Lathan, and Georgia Public Broadcasting. Before launching everywhere, Andrews was VP, Ketchum Digital and worked on social media brand strategy work for Monster.com, FedEx, GeekSquad, Wendy's, and Newell Rubbermaid. Andrews has been working in the area of interactive/new media and non-traditional marketing for 15 years holding senior titles at Columbia Records, Ecko Unlimited, and Isobar/Carat. His experience with brands such as Current TV, Sprite, Vibe Magazine, and Proctor & Gamble places him in a unique category of executives that understand the convergence of both new media, content and digital lifestyle. James blogs at FastCompany.com as an Expert Blogger. He also maintains a blog at www.thekeyinfluencer.com where he covers the "business of pop culture" via news and interviews that span technology, new media, music business and youth/urban culture. Andrews is also a regular contributor to CNN, as an expert in social media. Additionally, James serves as a consultant on social media to a few celebrities and icons including Hill Harper (CSI), DJ Jazzy Jeff, Sanaa Lathan, Macy Gray, and Jane Fonda. James Andrews attended UCLA, grew up in Silicon Valley, and lives in Atlanta with his wife and two children. He is an active speaker globally and is frequently quoted on the subjects of digital media, entertainment and innovative branding/marketing approaches.

Follow him on Twitter @keyinfluencer

[Television Photo Courtesy of Peter Hasselbom]

 

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