E.T. Tweet Home

Don’t worry, E.T. hasn't turned into a budgerigar nor has he grown a set of wings. What I'm talking about here is the growing number of mass scale live TV events and shows that are incorporating social media voting within the live editorial program.

Giving audiences the exclusive power to control a specific award category empowers them, allowing them to get behind their favourite act or artist in real time, by tapping into one of the social platforms where there is already conversation happening. 

Of course this isn't a new part of television, people have been picking up their phones (just like E.T.) to vote to evict or save their favourite housemate, singer, group, or celebrity for some time now, spawning a plethora of reality formats globally. However, audiences on the whole, have evolved. They are more technologically savvy and social media now exists for people to have their feelings and thoughts known—with a single Tweet, or many—whilst they are watching their TV show of choice. 

Programme makers have been looking for ways to integrate social media that makes sense editorially so that it sits as part of the DNA of the format itself for some time. Live social voting satisfies that entirely – it harnesses the social audience that are already active, where they are active, by allowing them to have a direct impact on the show through honed call to actions on screen and online  - win, win all round!

This is exactly what some of the largest live international music award shows have activated recently—The Brit Awards, The MOBO Awards and most recently MTV EMA's. All have showcased how, if executed and strategised in the correct way, social votes can have hugely positive impacts on the viewer interaction on social as well as the broadcasts key metric – viewing figures. The MOBO Awards for example had almost double the number of official mentions on Twitter compared to the year before's show, contributing to 2.1% audience viewing share on the night, compared to only 1% the previous year

Social voting in the past has been pooled together with premium rate phone voting under the interactive umbrella by some broadcasters, particularly off the back of the premium rate phone scandals in 2006/7, leading to OFCOM toughening their viewer participation rules back in 2008. As such, having a robust and fully audited live social voting service, as a stand alone service, is paramount to ensure that this could be provided as an infrastructure for broadcast teams globally. 

From a strategy perspective if you engage an audience in a way that enhances their viewing experience, they will have much stronger brand affinity. They will tell their friends down the bar how they were part of changing the show outcome on social. In fact, they don't even need to do that—unlike phone votes, social voting is public and visibile in real time, drawing more people to the broadcast content. More importantly, they will tune in again next time.  

The power of Tweet is mighty. If E.T. had the option now, I doubt if he would be lifting the receiver!


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