We’ve all done it. At least once in our lifetime, we’ve all talked to the TV. We’ve cheered on our favorite team and yelled at a ref for a bad call. We’ve screamed at the TV, “Are you kidding me? Did you folks just vote her off the show?” My favorite was the day I caught myself saying to the screen, “Did you just cry over some guy that you met 2 weeks ago? Seriously?”
It’s true that our television viewing behaviors vary with spy stuff like Burn Notice, competitions like Top Chef and I know that there are many of you out there who plant yourself in front of ESPN for the whole weekend. While our choices are different, we all have one thing about our TV watching routines in common …. Social TV. The official definition from Freebase is Social Television is a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction in either the context of watching television, or related to TV content. It also includes the study of television-related social behavior, devices and networks.
What this means is that we now have the chance to talk to the TV and they get to talk back to us. We’ve all heard the recent studies that have come out showing us how many people are using their laptops, smartphones or tablets while watching TV. While we know the top activity is checking our emails, the activity following closely behind is engaging in Social Media like Twitter or Facebook DURING our favorite shows, specifically reality shows and sporting events.
We’ve all seen the graphics in the corner of our favorite shows asking us to ‘join in the conversation on Facebook’ but Social TV takes that tag to the next level. I first started to really notice this new form of engagement when I watched the new NBC show called The Voice. I had decided to boycott American Idol after Simon Cowell left and tried out the show to fill the singing competition void in my life. I was immediately pulled into the show to watch how these judges were going to pick their ‘teams’ but what really caught my attention was that the show was interconnected with Twitter. Scrolling across the screen were constant reminders to connect and sending us to Twitter with The Voice hashtag. While The Voice was different on many levels from American Idol, its biggest difference contributed to the live interaction with the contestants in the Social Media Room who were shown responding to Twitter questions in real-time as in DURING the show.
I was hooked and started to find new ways to connect with other fans of the shows that I watch. I posted comments on the Facebook fan page when one of my favorite shows Torchwood started its new season this summer. As we shared our comments about the episode that just aired (yes, I actually went on the fan page right after the show ended!), I felt connected to these thousand of people who wanted to talk about how they missed The Hub and why weren’t we seeing more of Capt. Jack in this season.
Then I tried out Social TV on Twitter. When I found out that Anthony Bourdain would be tweeting live during the first show of his new season of No Reservations, I knew that I’d have my laptop on the couch with me when I watched the show. While I had a hidden agenda to be there (I was trying to get his attention for my Campaign to Bring Bourdain to Orlando), I loved watching the show and reading Tony’s 4-letter word comments about what was going on behind the scenes. It was like someone opened the backdoor to let us see how they decided which restaurant to go to and what the heck was that lady really talking about.
It’s no surprise then that marketing agencies are currently looking for more ways to incorporate their clients’ brands into these online engagement programs. In the months to come, we can expect to see some of these following trends in our Social TV world:
- Viewers will be interacting in more ‘meaningful conversations’ with other fans while they watch their favorite shows.
- Actors starring in our shows will take a more active role in the Social Media programming.
- Brands will be developing new promotions to engage with viewers directly while a show is being aired.
- Keep watching for a new group of social platforms to further connect our TV to our Social Media programs and connecting with other fans.
One thing seems clear – our TVs and our online activities are slowly merging into one new marketing opportunity where television viewers are able to engage with their favorite programs and the companies who are running ads during these shows. The programs who’ll win will be the ones who discover how to connect with this emerging media-savvy generation by creating the ultimate Social Media engagement experience for their fans.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/salty_soul/5473912938/