5 New Year’s Resolutions for TV Executives in 2012

Popular New Year’s resolutions often include eating healthy and exercising more regularly, but I think such lists should apply to our work lives as well. As such, I’ve created the following list of five New Year’s Resolutions for TV executives.

This is meant to be an informative list aimed at no person in particular. It’s simply an attempt to highlight some qualities I believe are essential in the modern day TV executive. Truthfully, there are many execs that already embody these traits, so please forgive me if this does not apply to you specifically, and then share this with your less-informed colleagues.

1. Become Twitter literate

Take the time to fully understand Twitter and you will see its power and potential. Just having an account is not good enough. Find and follow users that interest you and your profession. You need to realize Twitter is not a social network in the strict sense of connecting with friends - it’s a real-time publishing medium. It’s okay if your friends aren’t on it. Every journalist, politician, celebrity, author, you-name-it worth listening to is, and that’s who you want to follow.

Don’t worry if you never have anything to tweet about. There’s a reason why we don’t all have our own newspaper columns: we don’t all have interesting things to say. Twitter is where news happens first. If you’re not following along then you will be left behind.

2. Acknowledge the link between Twitter and TV

When people talk about TV on the Internet they do it on Twitter. Why? The medium allows for short and frequent conversation. The same behavior on Facebook would not be acceptable. Couple that with the fact that many celebrities also participate in the same conversation and it’s easy to see why Twitter and TV are such a great pair.

The social conversation on Twitter almost always reveals what people are watching on TV at any given moment. Just the other night, early in the morning actually, “Batman Returns” was trending worldwide on Twitter. Why? It was playing on TBS and Twitterers were commenting on how much they love the movie and were happy to find it playing on TBS. You can’t buy that type of social promotion. But you can facilitate it.

3. Appreciate social buzz as a new form of TV ratings

Nielsen finally found evidence of what many of us have been saying for a long time. There is a relationship between social buzz and TV ratings. If you haven’t already, read the study. It says, a nine percent increase in buzz volume for the premiere of a show correlates to a one percent increase in ratings among people aged 18-34.

This new ratings proof is great news. Now take it to the next step. A set of ratings based on social buzz volume is the future of the television industry. This new data helps to inform on the traditional notion of a show’s success or failure by pure numbers alone. For every show you produce the social buzz metrics should be just as important to your decision-making process as the Nielsen ratings.

4. Look to the future

Chances are you’re used to programming for your own demographic. Nielsen’s study about the impact of social buzz on TV ratings found the strongest correlation among the younger demos, ages 12-17 and 18-34. These people are already watching TV, so they’re hardly the “future.” They might not be the key demo now, but they will be eventually.

There are plenty of people in your organization who understand this demo. If you don’t, then seek out those who do. Listen to their fresh ideas and take action on the best ones. Be a part of their innovation and let them learn from your experience.

5. Take risks

The television medium just may be the least social form of communication. It has traditionally been dominated by large networks broadcasting their messages to passive audiences. That is changing. Progressive producers are finding new ways to involve their audience in the television-making process through social integration. Be a part of that change. Don’t discourage it.

Because in all reality, what do you have to lose from social integration? If you facilitate the conversation about your show then people will be talking about it, regardless of whether the show stinks or not. That increase in social buzz will lead to higher ratings, as has been proven. And if your show does stink, wouldn’t you rather know about it sooner rather than later?

Happy New Year

As the New Year progresses, it is certain you will continue to hear more talk about social integration for TV. It may be easy to dismiss or ridicule things one doesn’t understand (like pokes and tweets) but it’s important to remember that this is not just some new fad. It is a natural step in the evolution of human communication. Humans are inherently social. Our technology has finally caught up with that fact. And TV is no exception.

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