One of our very own will be presenting at SXSW Interactive this year. Jenn Deering Davis, Union Metrics Co-Founder and Chief Community Officer, will be speaking about how Twitter has changed how we watch TV on Saturday, March 9 during the festival. We wanted to get a preview of her presentation, so we thought we’d ask her a few questions about social TV and share her responses with you.
- How do you think social media has changed how viewers communicate about television shows?
Social media provides a great place for us to talk about our favorite TV shows and characters. It allows fans distributed across the country – even the globe – to share the experience of watching a show together. TV is such an important part of our culture, particularly in the United States; many of us watch some TV every single day, and we’re deeply connected to the shows we watch and the people in them. We want to talk about TV, and social media channels like Twitter are the perfect place for those conversations.
- What are some of the creative strategies that networks and advertisers are employing to tap into social TV?
There’s certainly a lot of hashtag use right now. You can’t watch a TV show – or a commercial – without seeing hashtags all over the place. Some of the more interesting fan engagement initiatives include creating character Twitter accounts that tweet during and between episodes, sharing content exhaust like behind-the scenes photos and outtakes, and running social games and contests to unlock premium content.
- What shows are doing social TV really well?
So many shows and show runners are doing interesting things on social media. Pretty Little Liars is one of the canonical examples – PLL and the team at ABC Family have created a huge and highly engaged following on Twitter and Facebook. As for others, I love how characters from Archer tweet as themselves (and to each other!), how Hollywood award shows like the Golden Globes post pictures from the red carpet and backstage, and how Netflix capitalized on the huge social interest around its new show House of Cards. There are so many great examples. For more, you’ll just have to come to the panel.
- How important is a standard measurement system for social TV and do you think Twitter’s work with Nielsen will push it forward?
Networks have been using Twitter as a way to understand the real-time pulse of their shows for several years, and I think it’s smart of Nielsen and Twitter to work together to formalize some of that. We can learn a lot about what fans think about a show by measuring their tweets. For example, tracking minute-by-minute volume helps us understand viewer interest spikes, telling us exactly what onscreen moments are exciting to the audience. I think this area will mature a great deal over the next few years.
- Twitter is at the center of the social TV discussion, but what other platforms do you think are poised to become a larger part of this movement?
Twitter was the first social channel to be really successful in the TV space for a variety of reasons (which I’ll discuss in more detail at SXSW), but we’re starting to see a lot more fan participation in other channels, as well. Tumblr is a big one, because millions of fans go to Tumblr to share and remix all kinds of amazing visual content about their favorite shows, and that content spreads like crazy on Tumblr. Social TV conversations happen in all the social media spaces we spend time in, but we’ve just heard the most about Twitter so far. I think that’s changing.
- How does online streaming content tap into social TV? Will advertisers cater to this demographic, or keep pushing for live viewing?
Great question. We’re starting to understand more about how social impacts (and is impacted by) both live and streamed viewing. I’ll get into this more during the talk, but we’re actually seeing a comeback in live TV right now! It’s fascinating stuff, but I’ll leave that as a teaser for now.
If you want to hear more, then be sure to check out Jenn’s talk at SXSW in Austin next week. And be sure to go say hi afterwards – she’d love to talk to you. She might even have party invites to share if you ask nicely.