MAD Perspectives Blog

 Social Media & TV, the next BIG thing?

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 07, 2010

If you ask media pundits about THE big innovation of the last millennium, they will tell you it was the TV.  Social media is garnering a lot of attention in the early part of the new millennium, but where does social media go next?  A natural assumption is that TV and social media will have a marriage of sorts.  One thought is that news broadcasters will incorporate social media more prominently into their every day actions.  Most local broadcasters take advantage of user generated video, regardless of quality, to capture traumatic events.  Here in New York, multiple amateur videos of US Airways Flight 1549 were incorporated into local broadcasts about the event.  But, is this enough? 

Morning “news” programs and talk show hosts, such as the last hour of the Today show or Oprah, now incorporate email and tweets into their daily routine.  Typically the hosts have an assistant, on or off screen, who is online following the discussion and informing the hosts on-air as the hot topics.  This seems to be a natural fit as these programs already have a well defined communities.   From another perspective, marketers are using social media networks to gauge interest and popularity of network programs.  American Idol and Lost are just two examples of programs that have huge followers on both Twitter and Facebook.   And, 77% of broadcast newsrooms are using social platforms to microblog news links to their followers. 

In fact, one could assume that broadcast TV is a natural fit for social media.  TV has driven coffee room and water cooler conversations for years.  Now those conversations happen on Facebook or Twitter.  However, the challenge remains that TV, for now, is” lean back” experience regardless of watching on the network’s pre-determine schedules or our own ad hoc DVR-enabled schedules.  Social media is a “lean-forward” experience.  We need to be on our PCs or mobile devices to post content.  How do we bring the experiences together?

Software vendors at broadcast conferences such as the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and International Broadcast Conference (IBC) in Amsterdam have been demonstrating user interfaces which incorporate both Facebook and Twitter.  Are we ready to give up part of our 42” HD viewing space to tweet on the TV screen during our favorite sporting event, reality TV program or sitcom?  Of course, this means sitting on the couch with a keyboard.  The interest in internet connected TVs will certainly enhance the functionally.   However, today’s 18-30 year olds aren’t watching network programming on their TVs, they are watching on their PCs or mobile devices.  Is an integrated social media/TV experience needed?  Do we even care?  Perhaps it’s about trying out new tools and seeing what works.  And, maybe what doesn’t work will drive innovation to something beyond social media on our TV screens.

What’s your perspective?