The Value of Social for TV Producers

Some TV Producers might scoff at the suggestion; use social to inform my show content? What can social tell me that I don’t already know?

They’d say, “I have newsmaker Tweets on today’s hot topic and a live social vote, isn’t that what social TV is all about?” Yes, but that’s just the beginning.

This article is not about scrolling Tweets or Instagram mosaics. It’s about how social can help TV producers make informed decisions about their broadcasts. It’s about the power of social for editorial teams and its ability to function like a real-time focus group.

Below you will find 5 tips on what to look for in social and how to use the information you find to improve the story you tell on-air.  

1.  Identify what your fans are talking about

By looking at what your followers on social are talking about and what they are sharing you can gain valuable insight into what matters to them. This can inspire great ideas for content creation.

For example if SportsCenter checked the top terms among their followers on Monday, Feb. 16th they would have seen that #SNL40 was the top term. It’s a great nugget of information but what can they do with it? They can find the sports hook. Former SNL hosts, and star athletes, Derek Jeter and Peyton Manning were both on the show.  This could lead SportsCenter to do a Top 10 of the funniest SNL sketches with a professional athlete. It’s timely and relevant—they know their audience is interested in the topic.   

Just like ideas for social content can come from TV content, ideas for TV content can easily come from your audience’s social conversations.

2.  Monitor how the conversation around important topics is changing

Live news and sports shows are constantly shifting their show blocks based on what’s happening in the world. That’s what live TV is all about. Social can be layered on top to provide a deeper level of insight. As the social conversation around events and show topics change, you can see how your fans respond live.

In today’s world, news often breaks online, meaning your fans are already talking about the latest story before you report it on TV. The conversation is underway and you need to understand what is being said.

An example to illustrate: A Blake Griffin buzzer beater generates a lot of conversation on social but the interesting thing for a sports producer is if the majority of fans were saying he was lucky. That is something that can be turned into a talking point for an NBA analyst on TV.

It’s easy to know which story everyone is talking about—the more interesting part is what they are saying about it, how they are talking about it (tone, context, frequency) and how you incorporate that into your coverage.

3.  Pay attention to how fans are interacting with your talent

Many on-air personalities would tell you that they try not to give too much credence to their @ mentions on social. People can be mean and unrelenting with their criticism. This doesn’t mean that producers shouldn’t pay attention.

I am not suggesting you get bogged down in the minutia of Twitter critiques and Facebook fights, but rather that you should look for trends and keep an open mind about what might come out of a fan’s comment.

A good example of this is America’s Pregame Show on Fox Sports 1.  Recently, they were monitoring mentions of NBA analyst Brian Scalabrine when they noticed fans were voting for him to make the All-Star team. Brian has been retired for three years but it lead the show to film a funny video where Brian thanked his fans and suggested they petition commissioner Adam Silver to let Brian play in the game. The video did well for the show and is a good example of using social insights to improve editorial content by monitoring the conversations around your talent.

Think of this as an opportunity to reward fans who interact in a positive way with your talent as well as a way to identify potential problem areas for your show before they get too big.

4.  Ask yourself, does the social chatter match your expectations? Why or why not?

Is the social commentary around your show playing out how you predicted? Perhaps your show has a character that no one expected to be a hit, but fans online love them. This can be used to your advantage.

Start by identifying what you can control: Can you write them into more scenes or give them more lines? What about marketing? Is there a campaign that can be run with this hit character? How can you leverage the talent’s social audience to drive viewership? If the show is already taped, what sort of social video publishing opportunities are there?

If producing content specific to this character isn’t an option think about having them live Tweet an episode or find a unique way for them to interact with the fan base like doing a Facebook Q&A on your show page. It’s all about how you can turn an unexpected response into an opportunity for the show brand. 

On the other hand, you can also use social context and data as a way to tease out why fans might not be identifying with a key character.  What can be done to turn that negative response around? Can you potentially create a viral craze around people’s dislike of the character by utilizing the fan’s passion to drive more engagement around your show?

5. Understand your competition

You may watch your competitors on TV but are you paying attention to what they are doing on social? Not everything they share on social is important but there are a few things you should look for: What types of video clips are they sharing from their broadcast? What frequency are they sharing them at? How is their engagement compared to your own?

It’s important to know what your competitors think is valuable from their TV show. In this way social can be used to find differentiators. If your competition is not playing up their talent and you feel strongly about yours, perhaps a campaign focused on their personalities would be a good investment. Knowing what your competitors are doing, including where they are succeeding and where they are failing, will make you better.

These are just a few ways that TV producers can use social to enhance their broadcast decisions. In addition, these tips should illustrate the two-way relationship that exists with fans on social platforms, something you can take advantage of to better connect with your audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

Social can help TV producers make informed decisions about their broadcasts and enhance viewers’ experience with social integration. Learn more about Broadcast TV Integration.

February 23, 2015
#Oscars - Everything Is Awesome
February 25, 2015
How to Make Smarter Social Content
Kate Radway is a Team Lead for Spredfast's Product Coaching Team. She's focused on helping marketers unlock the power of social data by removing obstacles in their process. Kate is an advocate of moving social data out of the silo and into broader organizational decision-making.