The Social TV format: Origins

You might be thinking that you are about to read about an unreleased X-Men movie wherein the Marvel gang makes a foray into television producing. Instead, it will reveal something much more exciting for all you format creatives out there keen to enter into the realm of original Social TV.

Content makers and producers, this will give you some previously unreleased guidelines to aid in creating your very own original Social TV format.

I recently read an exciting article published by The Mirror in the UK stating that,"ITV and the BBC are on the hunt for “Made for Twitter” programmes where viewers can interact via social media.”

It quickly became clear to me that there are not many producers that have created formats of this nature, if any. Sure there have been many interactive TV shows but none spring to mind that are truly social and have social media baked into the DNA of the show. 

As such, I’ve put together a checklist of considerations to help create the framework for an original Social TV concept.

Will Viewers That Don’t Use Social Watch?

Firstly, will the format stand up in its own right as a TV show? i.e will audiences still watch the show even if they don’t understand social media?

This is an extremely important consideration. The social engagement mechanism should be there for audiences that want to engage but the show should still provide an entertaining experience for people that don’t understand or have never used social.

Think Of The User Journey

You may think you have the best idea for a new Social TV format but before you hit send to the network commissioners, think about how the user journey plays out. Is it simple for the user to engage? Think about what you are asking the audience to do. Can the ask be easily conveyed on screen in a call to action to ensure you get the optimum amount of engagement?

You need to deliver an excellent experience to people viewing and engaging with the show to increase the likelihood that they will return to the show and participate again.

Does The Format Tap Into The Key Social Drivers Of Interaction?

Give careful consideration to why audiences will engage with the format. Think about what invokes people to socially interact and harness this into your format.

Does your proposed show cover at least one of the four key drivers of social interaction?

  • Emotional Response—Does the content drive people to have an emotional reaction to what they are watching, allowing them to feel more connected to the narrative?
  • Memories—Does the format bring people to draw comparisons on their own lives and experiences?
  • Opinion—Possibly the largest driver of social interaction, does the show give audiences that watercooler moment, making them reach for their phone to join and share their views about what they are seeing on screen?
  • Shared Experience—Does the show content bring people closer together? Does it give viewers the opportunity to feel like they want to see other peoples thoughts and in turn heighten their affinity with the show?

Does The Social Interaction Actually Enhance The Programme?

What role does social media actually play in your proposed format? Can the show operate without it? If so, then it hasn’t ticked the right boxes for a format with social interaction at the core. The goal is to create a show with social DNA, i.e. the show won’t exist without it.

Remember that even though the format has social at the core, it doesn’t mean audiences have to participate socially to enjoy it. This is both the challenge and opportunity of creating a social first format but one that should be considered all through the creation process.

Do You Have Technology That Can Deliver The Social For The Show?

Having the best idea for an original social TV format is one thing, but being able to deliver on the vision of a social interaction fueled format is another. Integrating the technical solution into your offering makes it easier for commissioners to move your idea format forward, rather than having to find a technical solution themselves to make the format work.

This also makes it easier to sell the format to other territories globally if it is a success. The technology forms part of the offering, making it a far easier sell as this component has been considered.

This is an extremely exciting time for Social TV and we are only beginning to explore the possibilities of what can be achieved with original social programming.

At Spredfast, we work with every major broadcaster to enhance the viewer experience with social integration, we also offer strategy and creative services to aid with original format creation in Social TV. Learn more about our broadcast solutions.

Spredfast's picture


The world’s best social software platform. We deliver smart social software that makes every consumer touch point better.