4 Social TV Tips from Serious Pros

Today's version of the Must-See TV viewing party—a bunch of friends gathered around an ordered pizza, chatting during commercial breaks about whether Ross and Rachel will or won't—is decidedly more digital. Not that these kinds of viewing parties don't happen, but increasingly, we can all share our reactions to the latest plot twist. "It's still a viewing party," said Spredfast's Spike Jones in a recent Spredfast-sponsored Adweek webinar, "it's just gone online."

So how can you make the most of this virtual party with your own broadcast TV integration? How can media companies enhance their viewers' experience with social integrations and add value with social context on the second screen—and beyond?

Here, four tips from four experts in the biz. Take notes:

1. Apply the Top 3 Reasons People Share to TV

Spredfast's Spike Jones explained that people share content online for three main reasons: ego, information, and/or emotion. "And social TV plays perfectly into those three buckets," Jones explained. For example:

  • Ego: People want to look good among their friends—those folks who always have the clever one-liners will want clever Tweets for the latest GOT drama as well.
  • Information: Friends want to share plot points (or the game score) and updates on their favorite characters—even at the risk of #spoileralerts.
  • Emotion: Because what's more emotional than HBO drama—or the drama of a double-overtime game-winning shot?

2. Put Your Audience Before your Brand

FOX News' VP of social media Jason Ehrich explained that the media company earns organic growth and engagement numbers through content that speaks to their audience: "Our general strategy is really an engagement strategy," Ehrich said. "We aim to post very shareable content and we optimize every post for that, hoping that will in turn drive user engagement, which has two main effects: earned media and brand awareness."

Why this audience-first mentality? "When you make a CTA you need to deliver a payoff for the audience," Ehrich says. Perhaps counterintuitively, for example, FOX News used a non-branded hashtag for the GOP debate, and had 1.9 million Tweets around it as a result.

Think about putting your audience first by network as well—for example, people come to Instagram expecting high-quality photos. "So we hire top-flight editorial photographers," Ehrich says. FOX News sends these photographers backstage to snap behind-the-scenes preparation. When FOX News did so around the debates, "It got terrific engagement for us on Instagram and promoted viewership of the show later that night." As a result of these and other concerted efforts, 24 million people tuned into the August 6th debate, and on social, FOX News saw 1.9 million interactions.

In general, Ehrich says, FOX News "treats our channel like a continuous live event. To get here, we put out the best moments, the most compelling stories on our air and we turn them into engaging and shareable posts as quickly as possible." In other words: FOX News ensures their content provides genuine value for their audience—and they are rewarded in turn.

#3. Don't Hesitate; Innovate

...and gamify where possible, too. Andrew Barge, who works in sports media partnerships at Twitter, explains that Twitter and TV have been kindred spirits for several years, in part because TV speaks to the core of Twitter: "It's live, it's public, and it's conversational, and that certainly applies to TV as well."

In a partnership with NBA and Turner Sports, Twitter wanted to find a fun way to invite NBA fans to participate on social. Around the NBA finals, they released Twitter emojis that could be unlocked by a hashtag—one for each player—to help fans determine the game's MVP. Then, they organically bridged the concept to the broadcast by letting their talent in on the fun, as well. The results were impressive:

  • +64 percent more Tweets in the 4th quarter post-game
  • Accounting for 59% of all-star game tweets in that time frame
  • 1.8 Million emoji tweets

Thanks to a creative, value-added element, the NBA and Twitter saw social success. Barge encouraged marketers to be creative: "We've come a long way from simply slapping a hashtag on air."

#4. Let Social Take your Fans Where They Couldn't Go Otherwise

Sam Farber, director of digital media for the NBA, explains that new formats and old alike are an opportunity for the NBA to give their fans exclusive access. "One of the things our commissioner always wants, what's always our goal on digital, is to bring the world outside in," Farber says. "99 percent of our fans will never go to a game." But with social, they can feel like they have a front-row seat.

For the NBA, that means following a player from pre-season to the playoffs bus. And new mediums like Snapchat make that inside glance even more exciting. "Snapchat has been so powerful for us—people watch a game on TV, but they experience a game on Snapchat," Farber says. The NBA views their Snapchat content as complimentary to broadcast, aimed squarely at that 99 percent of fans who can't get to a game. "We're trying to make them feel like they're there."

Hungry for even more social content tips from these pros? Watch the entire webinar on-demand, anytime. Also make sure to check out our whitepaper, Creating Content People Crave.

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Jaime Netzer is Spredfast's Senior Content Marketing Manager, leading content operations. A Lawrence, Kansas native, she traded seasons for breakfast tacos seven years ago and hasn't looked back since. Also a fiction writer and journalist, Jaime tweets semi-regularly and reads constantly.