Social media integrations into TV shows have come a long way from the days when producers would throw a hashtag on screen, pat themselves on the back, and declare themselves social TV experts.
While there a lot more creative attempts to incorporate social elements into television production these days, the effectiveness of those attempts varies wildly.
But there are a few key elements that most successful integrations share – here’s a look at some of them.
1. It’s An Extension Of Content, Not Marketing
The first mistake people make is thinking of social media as a marketing ploy as opposed to an extension of content.
While there is undoubtedly lots of marketing value that you can get from the online conversation generated by a social integration, the best social stunts don’t originate that way. Forcing a “social moment” into a show is a recipe for disaster – viewers can see it coming and they tend to feel used or disinterested at best.
Viewers hate ads, so don’t create a social integration that feels like an ad.
Instead, use social in creative ways to amplify specific content in a show. Look for opportunities to take something that works within the natural flow of the show content and make it bigger, more interactive, or just more fun for viewers.
The more native a social integration feels, the better it will perform. And content always feels more natural than marketing, so start there.
2. It Serves A Purpose
A good social integration serves an actual function in the context of the show. What that function is varies wildly depending on the type of show, but it could be as a voting mechanism, a source for questions, or a chance to play along at home the way people do with HashtagWars on @Midnight.
The point is, you don’t ever want to do something with social media in a show just to “do social” – there should be a clear reason why it exists and a goal it’s intended to accomplish.
3. It’s In The Best Interest Of Your Show, Not Just Their Platform
The competition among social platforms for exposure in TV shows is intense. This can lead to some great opportunities to work with various platforms and create new and innovative ways to integrate their platform into your show.
But be careful because while each platform ostensibly wants to help you create the next big social initiative around your show, they’re also looking out for their own interests.
And what’s best for their platform, might not always be the same thing as what’s best for your show.
Make sure the platform you’re using fits the type of social integration you’re looking for and make sure that the support you’re being offered actually helps improve your show.
Just because a platform offers to help you pull a certain type of data around the conversation about your show doesn’t mean that data will actually be interesting to your viewers. And just because a platform has a shiny new feature they want to let you debut in your broadcast doesn’t mean that’s a feature that fits your audience.
4. It’s More Than A Hashtag
Luckily, we’ve come a long way from the early days of social media integrations when slapping a hashtag on screen was deemed revolutionary.
There are so many opportunities to do innovative things when it comes to incorporating social media into TV production that it would be a real shame to settle for a simple hashtag plug any more.
Plus, let’s be honest – hashtags don’t actually do a whole lot for you in the long run anyway. Aim higher.
5. It Creates A Compelling Conversation
When brainstorming ideas for a social integration, keep in mind that at its core social media works best when it sparks a conversation. Look for ways that you can create things that people will want to talk about, not just that they’ll want to share.
Find ways to use your show to prompt fans to discuss things online – figure out how to position things in ways that will make them want to share their opinions or feel excited to tell others about what’s happening. Find ways for them to feel a part of it.
There’s no one way to do this – it all depends on your specific show and its audience. But every show has the same opportunity to use social media in a way that empowers the audience to start, join, and push forward a conversation in an interesting and powerful way.
And if you can do that, then you’ll have succeeded in tapping the true potential of social TV.
Your Turn: What do you think is the key to great social TV?
I’d love to hear what else you think is the key to incorporating social media into TV in a way that drives value.
Please share your thoughts in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter. Thanks!