There are few things the television industry loves more than a bit of tech mythology followed by quick-fire declarative statements that are often less than applicable. One of the louder ones at the moment is that Twitter has killed off the independent second screen app. And this is truly dangerous thinking for the industry at large.
As TV continues to evolve, second screen apps will have a far greater role in how we consume media content. While Twitter and other mass platforms will continue to strongly flourish, their role will be to provide exceptional conversation locales. Whereas, the independent app has the potential to greatly add to the experience by differentiating itself as the conversation enhancer, rather than the venue.
When we’re in the offline world with friends and we sit down to chat, we find a great place to discuss whatever it is on our minds across multiple topical areas. Social media platforms may be our newest venues, but this doesn’t change the nature of our discussions and how we want to have them.
As television and media executives, our goals to achieve exposure, recall and retention must be orchestrated to help create and enliven social conversations. The venues will change and evolve, but great experiences beget great conversations across diverse locations. This is the heart of social TV. It’s about producing amazing content that is endemically social anywhere and at any time.
Twitter and Facebook allow us to socialize around anything we want to discuss, including television, but not solely limited to it. Just as the offline world isn’t limited to particular topics. For all of the second screen Apps that hoped to become a place for conversation strictly about television, twitter never killed them off. They never had a chance. They entered the market with a knife wound covered by a shiny Band-Aid. Rather than address ways to innovate new functionalities that consumers could get behind, many of these apps took a concept where there was little need. They tried to create the venue rather than the conversation.
Venue creation examples: (The group bound to fail)
TV check-ins, social commentary functionalities, social hangouts- All of these functions try to force the hand of the venues people socialize within. While the idea may be novel at first, they provide little additional worth. The venues for our conversation must always supersede one sole topical area.
Methods for creating the discussion: (Where the second screen will flourish)
Content: The content of media and entertainment will always be the most powerful way to create and enliven conversation across venues. If we enhance that content across screens and provide additional mechanisms that can align and expose it in news ways, that content will be discussed, shared and socialized.
Interactivity: Control, engagement, two way dialogues. By Integrating these functionalities to tie in with organic behaviors from the ground level of production up, we will see audiences that engage. By intertwining interactive elements into traditional TV watching experiences, we create social TV.
Blendability: The ability to blend television content with elements of the offline world has utmost potential. While transmedia has begun this process, being able to incorporate true elements of offline activities with TV across digital devices will create television experiences that truly engage and captivate.
At the end of the day, people will always find new venues to discuss a myriad of topics. The second screen has the ability to capture discussions by creating new life experiences. This is our goal, and this is where our R&D efforts must find their home.