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By Karl-Heinz Land, Chief Evangelist & Senior Vice President Social iCommerce at MicroStrategy
Today we really are at the turning point where Television viewing is returning to its original roots and once again becoming a truly social experience. This change is being driven, at least in part, by the exponential growth of second screens (tablets, smartphones) and the new ways that people are using them to consume and interact with media of all types, at all times. Of course this trend will have an impact not only on people's day-to-day lives but also on marketers, technology innovators and business development teams around the globe.
Second screen activity has become normal in many households, with viewers able to connect to, discuss and recommend the shows they are viewing through social networks like Facebook and Twitter. The experience of TV-viewing is even more social and dynamic than ever before and we are now on the cusp of a significant shift in the way brands can connect with consumers through the medium of television, using social networks as the gateway.
We all know that one of the most powerful features on Facebook is the ‘Like’ button. Through Facebook people are continuously building on their own personal social graph with objects and connections, ultimately behaving as recommenders of brands and products online. Many brands already have a presence on Facebook with a Page but how many marketers have truly tapped into the power of the Open Graph?
Consumers are already socialising online whilst jointly watching shows and this is a major opportunity for brands to connect with their customers at the optimal point – the moment when they and their friends are the most engaged with your brand and are primed and ready to connect (and possibly make a purchase). It is a mistake to think that television is just the act of watching on a television set or even on the PC – the whole consumption process can happen anywhere, much like the way we consume information from the internet.
More significantly, all these screens are merging, at least from a functional perspective. In the not-so-distant future every screen will likely be able to serve any purpose we wish and work together in harmony to enhance our experience. Business leaders and marketers need to understand and get ahead of this evolution to ensure they are taking full advantage. Futurescape gives an interesting overview on the relationship between Facebook and the TV industry. Retail brands might provide pricing, availability and link to their online store for the dress one of the judges is wearing through a tablet experience as the whole family watches the latest Saturday night talent show on their 42" plasma screen in the lounge.
What's more, the more insight a brand can get about their customer behaviour - by integrating with Facebook and using it as the identity platform for the online brand experience - the more they can adapt their own business and marketing activities to drive engagement, sales and success. Tapping into the graph of people's interests and likes on Facebook means you can start to deliver what they want, according to their mood and add real value to the viewing experience. Ultimately this will breed loyalty and preference, for brands and consumers alike as the whole experience adapts to match both the preferences of the masses and the individual at the same time.
Social TV will reshape the way we market, how we connect with customers and when and where we sell to them. As Professor Dr. Ralf Kreutzer of the Berlin School of Economics and Law points out social TV could be even more important in reaching certain demographics: “Social TV offers a fantastic opportunity: to win back and attract the younger generation. Based on findings in Germany the average consumer spends 225 minutes watching TV per day - the older they are the more they watch. The 70-plus audience spends around 296 minutes, while younger consumers, between 14 and 19 years old, spend only 104 minutes watching TV per day. Up to now advertisers have lost this channel to reach the customers of the future via TV. Now social TV offers a unique possibility to create additional relevance of TV for this generation. Today, their first screen is a laptop or the smartphone. And the challenge is to define TV as a necessary second screen - with additional relevance for social interaction via Facebook or Twitter. It´s high time that marketers identify and use this window of opportunity - connected with social TV.”
The days of one-way marketing are numbered. To me, it is evident that the future of TV is social and I couldn’t agree more with Brian Solis, who is speaking at the upcoming SMiCS event in Amsterdam, as he sums up his vision in his article on the future of TV: “This is a time when bringing to life what’s possible takes imagination, design, scripting, and innovation. We need to raise the bar. The future of TV won’t be driven by a social media strategy. Instead, the future of TV will be driven by innovation and a vision for more meaningful entertainment and engagement. This innovation will in turn inspire new programming, revenue opportunities and ultimately social media strategies.”
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