Current attempts at television-based social media integration are failing, hard.

How do we fix them?

To find the solution, we first need to fully understand the problem.

2screen / dual-screen / second-screen — all are different names for the kind of integration that I’m referring to and it’s something I’ve been kicking around in my head ever since I went to my first 2screen event back in October 2010.

It was a big deal then and it’s a bigger deal now.

With the increase of iPad penetration and the continuous growth of the smartphone market, the notion of 2screening is becoming more and more commonplace. In fact, a recent Neilsen survey found that 80% of tablet and 78% of smartphone owners used their device while watching TV at least once during a 30 day period.

In the app-world, services such as ZeeBox and Sky Sports for iPad are doing very good things indeed. Both integrating news, stats and social media streams into your second screen; providing a suitable data-based accompaniment to your visual consumption.

However, I want to talk about television-based social media integration (not app-based).
This kind of stuff -

That’s how Sky One’s ‘Got to Dance‘ handles it and many other broadcasters follow suit. BBC One is getting in on the act too, here using a Twitter wall backstage for the UK edition of ‘The Voice‘.

Twitterwall

What do these examples all have in common?

Fundamentally, they are all bringing (or at least attempting to bring) the conversation from the second screen, to the first. Which, correct me if I’m wrong, kind of defeats the object of the second screen.

Whether it’s reading out tweets during the credits of Celebrity Juice on ITV2 or talking about Facebook wall posts inbetween programmes on BBC3, broadcasters seem to be obsessed with sharing (read ‘owning’) viewer social media.

Recognising that conversation takes place away from their platform(s), TV + social media work best together when television directs its audience to the conversation medium, as opposed to smashing them in the face with it via another.

Sorority Girls, an E4 TV show, flashes up their hashtag both at the start and at the end of their show as well as when going into ad breaks.

This is good! This is television saying -

‘Hey, perhaps some people are actually watching our shows when they’re on and, instead of going to the kettle during an ad break, they’re turning to Twitter!’

- and giving the audience a your hashtag at this point is a very good idea. You own it, you guide it, you track it.

Ignoring The Voice for a second, the BBC actually do this quite well, both with Question Time and Have I Got News For You, for example:

via Roo Reynolds

Little pointers like this give you, the viewer, the option of tracking (and joining) the back-channel. If you understand what it means, you join the conversation. Perfect.

I guess this is one big plea to broadcasters to just stop reading out tweets and Facebook updates on the telly. Seriously, it just doesn’t work.

Finally, and returning to the opening image of this post, the new trailer for Prometheus aired recently during the first break of Homeland. Channel 4′s own announcer was employed also, asking viewers to tweet their reactions using the hashtag #areyouseeingthis.

So far, so good. Right? Right.

Except that, 20mins later (during the next ad break), those very tweets were displayed onscreen for all to see.

via Digital Examples

Yes that’s actually a TV ad you’re seeing there, with (clearly moderated) tweets displaying instead of your usual commercial break. Mental.

Reports state that this activity reached a potential audience of 15m users. (Note: POTENTIAL audience. That’s the number of every tweet with the hashtag, multiplied by their sum of their followers – ie: not a real number). And while this kind of exercise is a great advert for Twitter, it leaves existing fans and users feeling a bit… empty.

In closing, encouraging viewers to join an online conversation is one thing, replaying that conversation to them 20mins later is just a pain in the oculars.

Discuss.

 

 

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A Hero’s Quest: Launching a TV channel in 2009

Back in the Spring, I attended a launch party for a new free-to-air digital channel called Quest TV.

Unfortunately, due to some last minute complications, the launch was inexplicably delayed and is now scheduled to go live tomorrow instead.

What follows it the post I wrote on May 22nd. Most of the points still stand so I have no qualms about dusting it off and finally publishing.

Your thoughts and comments, as always, are welcome.

Enjoy.

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Hero Quest was one of my favourite board games when i was a kid. Yeah you had your Monopoly and your Cluedo, but when it came to getting your Wizard on (and if D&D was too complicated) then Hero Quest was the way to go…

Last night folks, I attended the launch party for Quest TV.

With previews of programs such as Heli-loggers, Rescue Me and the old school Mission Impossible, the whole package was delivered in a jaunty, rather tongue-in-cheek but seriously amusing way.

However, because of the trek down to London from my office in Marlow however, I was late and arrived just as they were showing the channel’s idents. These I thought were quite clever and the scope to expand on them is definitely there, but we’ll come back to this one later.

As the evening went on I was introduced to a couple of representatives from Discovery – the television company behind Quest TV, and we spoke about how/why the social media outreach had been done specifically for this Quest TV’s launch. Aside from the low-cost aspect (and subsequent potential ROI), they insisted it was mainly stemmed from their desire to try something different.

A courageous move for sure and one that should be applauded. What with there being no real case studies to point to (regarding successes/failures with new ‘old media’ channel launches), they have carte blanche to pretty much do as they please. New TV Channels are a rarity here in the UK, so it’ll be interesting to see how they move this forward; it was noted at the time that the worst thing they could possibly do right now, would be to reach out… and then walk away.

Social media isn’t a channel, it’s the nonsense term applied to all things conversational and online, (these days I’ve taken to calling it ‘the web’), however – sticking to that principal – the web isn’t just another channel either. It opens up a world of interactivity and engagement which has never been seen before, especially in the world of ‘old/traditional’ media.

The idents that I touched upon earlier, are a great example of how the web could be used to further their brand.

Here’s a selection of the ones they had on show last night:

Not bad at all.

I can totally see an online campaign which involves viewers at home producing their own Quest TV idents. The ones shown above are short, fun and relatively easy to make. Why not further the conversation by reaching out to your own ‘users’ to help build the Quest TV brand?

Or, maybe ask viewers if they are on some kind of quest themselves. I’m reminded of the Britglyph project which famously had a mad Scotsman take part by placing his own rock in the rain in the middle of the night.
Hilarious, but awesome.

If that was online, what kind of scope do we have with TV?

Like I said the channel launches tomorrow and it seems Quest have already dipped their toes in, let’s see if they’re ready for a swim.

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