Social TV is the latest in social media trends.
Social TV allows audiences to engage in social interaction with their TV shows — enabling people to chat with characters, post comments, and even create trending topics for popular opinion, during and after airing. Rick Lieblind, director of digital strategy at Coyne PR defines the interaction between an audience and their entertainment as intermedia, adding that “as social TV gains momentum, savvy networks like [AMC, USA], Bravo, MTV and The CW are poised to take advantage by engaging their audiences in new and compelling ways.”
The whole point of social platforms is to engage an audience – social TV doesn’t just fuse audience and brand, but, rather, goes one step further and engages the audience with the components that make the brand what it is! After all, what would Jersey Shore be with out Snooki or The Situation? These characters are what audiences actually care about, and leveraging their popularity through social networks can increase engagement and ultimately, ratings.
AMC’s Mad Men was one of the first adopters as early as 2009, but recently reality shows on Bravo and MTV live tweet, post status updates, and even SMS text during airtimes, which allows viewers to better interact with the reality stars. A blog written by Anne Sherber on Digiday explains it best, citing how Lisa Hsia, EVP of Bravo Digital says how “convincing viewers to tune in to both channels of programming may have an effect on program ratings: engaging users with second screen experiences increases viewership during a program’s first airing.” In the article, Hsia is quoted as saying, “People want to meet in real time and talk about it as it is happening.”
So how do you convince audiences to participate? And what is better than being able to #fistpump along with Jersey Shore’s MVP?
Well, it seems that the more creative you are, the better the chance viewers will check-in. For example, USA Network’s show Psych embraced social TV by creating a social game called the #Hashtag Killer that evolves past the show’s airtime. What it is: a game that allows viewers to help main characters, Shawn and Gus, solve their next case. The game is progressive, meaning that you watch weekly episodes that build on previous episode experiences. There are a total of seven weeks and the game encourages you to check in every day as it progresses in real-time.
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