From Snapchat to ‘Best Lyric Video,’ MTV Continues to Innovate for VMAs

By Adam Flomenbaum 

vma-2014The VMAs take place this Sunday at 9pm EST, and as usual, MTV is re-inventing and innovating.

The network announced the nominees for the show via Snapchat, and MTV’s SVP of Connected Content, Colin Helms, tells Lost Remote that “the videos were streamed over 400,000 times in their 24 hour existence.” MTV knew that users would screenshot the nominees and share the snaps across other social networks, so quantifying the reach cannot be confined to the ephemeral social platform.

MTV this year also introduced an award for “Best Lyric Video” in this year’s Social Category. The category gives a nods to the evolution of Lyric Videos as a preferred method for timing a song’s release with the premiere of the music video. The winner will be determined by fans socially who can vote via artist-specific hashtags on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Vine. 

2014 “Best Lyric Video” Social Category Nominations

– Katy Perry – ‘Birthday’ – #votekatyperry

– Demi Lovato ft. Cher Lloyd – Really Don’t Care  – #votedemilovato

– Ariana Grande feat. Iggy Azalea – Problem  – #votearianagrande

– Austin Mahone feat. Pitbull – Mmm Yeah  – #voteaustinmahone

– 5 Seconds Of Summer – Don’t Stop  – #vote5sos

MTV will also continue to employ the use of social influencers to promote the awards. JennXPenn, King Bach, and Rebecca Black, among others will be creating content throughout the awards. On the second screen front, MTV will be distributing exclusive VMA content on the MTV Artists app.

We spoke with Helms about the nomination process, the new “Best Lyric Video” award, and this year’s second screen initiatives:

Lost Remote: By MTV’s standards, was announcing the nominees via Snapchat considered a success? What data did you look at to determine this?

Colin Helms: Announcing the nominees via Snapchat was a big first for us. Each year we try to come up with something different socially to release the nominations and we saw the growth of our audience on Snapchat this year so it was a natural fit. Quantitatively, the videos were streamed over 400,000 times in their 24 hour existence. Qualitatively, we saw a deluge of screenshots of our Snapchat story, and mentions of our Snapchat account in general, posted throughout other social networks. That was sort of the point — reward our early followers on a new platform channel with early access to the assets, but take advantage of the natural Snapchat behavior of screen shot-ing and sharing to other social networks and use talent with highly socially active fan bases to get our reach.

LR: What was the decision behind adding “Best Lyric Video” to the social category? How have lyric videos taken off across social in the past year?

Helms: By design, each year we re-invent the VMA’s so it feels uniquely fresh and stays on trend with today’s culture and the growth and popularity of lyric videos made sense for the social category this year. Oftentimes, fans have to wait weeks or even months into a single’s release for a music video, but the evolution of lyric videos have given artists a new stylized layer to bridge a song’s release with the premiere of the music video. We’re excited that the category gives a nod to the evolution of music videos this year.

LR: What are some of the new second screen features for this year’s VMAs?

Helms: The VMA All Access Live has been specifically redesigned this year for mobile participation so fans get the ultimate second screen experience in their hand while watching this year’s show. Additionally, fans will be able to capture their favorite VMA moments in highly shareable GIFs in real-time via All Access Live across platforms.

LR: How important have social influencers become to MTV award shows as a whole, and the VMAs specifically?

Helms: We’re always looking for ways to build on the relationships we have with social influencers and tap the experience we’ve had working with them for other shows like the Movie Awards and Teen Wolf. The VMAs give us another opportunity to do just that. This year, we’re planning the highest level of social influencer involvement ever for the VMAs as it’s a great way to share original content from the show with our audiences across multiple platforms.