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Social media platforms are providing TV networks with new screens to program to drive even greater engagement and advertiser benefit. MTV and VH1 were two of the first brands that locked arms with social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and as a result, we’ve seen the tremendous additive value that social media can provide in turning casual viewers into passionate superfan ambassadors for our shows and brands.
Today’s audiences do not distinguish content as either pure digital or television. They’re living in a hyperconnected world in which they are watching TV while simultaneously interacting via their smartphones, tablet devices and laptops. We regard social media as another screen to program, and just like with television, quality content is key to social success. We have grown our social graph tremendously by staying committed to continually creating compelling multiplatform content that propels fan interaction and sharing.
We know that social media can amplify the proverbial “watercooler” chatter into a real-time global conversation. However, you can’t rely solely on social media to drive this message. You have to create the ecosystem for the conversation to take place. We’ve embraced this behavior and have created cross-platform second screen co-viewing experiences MTV’s WatchWith and VH1’s CoStar. These provide an additive and complementary experience to the primary television viewing for series as well as tent-pole events. Unlike outside developers and platforms, when it comes to our shows and tent-poles, we’re armed with the knowledge of what happens next. Having this advantage enables us to tailor and program content to viewers in tandem with the storyline unfolding on television. The goal here is to turn each episode into a can’t-miss event where our co-viewing experiences are facilitating the conversation and information exchange, while simultaneously delighting the audience.
With larger tent-pole events like MTV Video Music Awards or VH1 Divas, we’ve designed more robust, full cross-platform takeover experiences that provide fans with multiple points of entry. For example, with this year’s VMAs, we produced an entire lean-forward second screen co-viewing platform across web and mobile where fans can activate their own experience including selecting their own camera angle, such as a backstage or audience view, to being part of the conversation via our Twitter Tracker. Additional lean-forward activities at the VMAs this year included providing fans the tools to share video content across their social graph, send congratulatory tweets to winners, and view a live map of artists tweeting from their seats. This isn’t cheap and takes investment at every level. The payoff, however, was huge as the event ranked as the most tweeted-about award show of all time, as well as MTV’s most watched broadcast ever.
As early pioneers, we’ve accrued a myriad of best-practice learnings that we eagerly share with our partners in order to help them grow their own social graph. We have been leaders in creating partner awareness and engagement across all platforms in the form of premium ad products. We’re now exploring ways in which to create an ad experience that syncs up across multiple screens to create a whole new level of partner awareness and engagement.
Measuring the correlation between ratings and social buzz is clearly top-of-mind. We’re encouraged to see social activity drive traffic to new platforms, and pleased at the recent reports that social buzz drives ratings. While it’s not an exact science by any means, it is infinitely clear is that social buzz delivers awareness and builds brand affinity. In such a crowded marketplace, that in itself is exciting and worth the continued investment. In the end, regardless of the platforms you build, or partnerships you make, you have to ensure you are producing high quality content. This is the only way to ensure your audience will continue to discover, interact and share with your brand with their social graph.
Kristin Frank is the general manager of MTV and VH1 Digital.