In Brief: Why You Can't Ignore Social TV
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Social TV, otherwise known as your friends coming over to watch TV and just staring at their phones the whole time, is the undeniable force yanking viewers back to live TV.

As mobile devices force their way into more facets of our lives, researchers at The University of Texas looked at the connection between watching TV and engaging with similar content on a mobile device—specifically to find how marketers can increase overall engagement by connecting TV to social media and capitalizing on this “always on” trend. They found a number of best practices for this engagement, including the following list.

How to Engage Viewers with Social TV: 

  • Have a program’s celebrities, such as actors or directors, engage with fans in real-time during the broadcast, via Twitter, Facebook, or other social network.
  • Shows or brands can flash a hashtag on screen during a show so viewers can follow conversations and interact with each other in real-time.
  • Source audience questions for on-air Q&A sessions.

Because national DVR penetration has reached almost 50 percent, many marketers are wondering how they can once more entice consumers to tune into live television. The answer is social TV because media multitasking makes live TV a priority once more. A recent study at TV Guide, in fact, found that 17% of people began watching a show because of social media comments, while 31% continued to watch a show because of the interactions they had with others during the show. Furthermore, from June 2011 to June 2012, social media commentary about television and television shows increase 171%. 

So how can you incorporate social TV into your marketing mix? 

  • Think about the holistic viewing experience of the viewer and how you want to shape it—both during programs and interstitials.
  • Figure out what companion content exists (or could be created) in order to connect viewers to your brand before, during, and after the TV show of their choice.
  • Keep the focus on content and storytelling with social TV integrations, just like you do with more traditional marketing. What stories do you want to tell and how can you use these devices to tell it better?
  • Finally, incorporate social TV into your agenda at each planning phase, considering the implications it could hold for your audience. 

By Brionne Griffin | Marketing Associate | PBS Digital

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Brionne is the Marketing Associate for the PBS SPI team and manages the SPI blog and the SPI Twitter account, in addition to helping stations with their digital product needs. She is a Texas Longhorn alum, hot sauce aficionado, and you can always count on her for a good banjo joke.