How Do You Define Social TV?

By David Cohen 

WatchingTVWithLaptop650Twitter owns social TV. Facebook is trying to get there.” Joseph Pigato, managing director of customer-engagement firm Sparked, spoke those words Wednesday during a panel at mediabistro’s Inside Social Marketing conference in New York, “What We Can Learn from TV’s Top Social Campaigns,” where he was joined by Sesame Workshop Director of New Media Communication Daniel N. Lewis and moderator Natan Edelsburg, vice president of Sawhorse Media and writer for mediabistro’s Lost Remote blog.

Edelsburg kicked off the panel by saying:

Social TV is something that’s very hard to define. There are so many different aspects to television. It’s a really broad topic.

Social TV isn’t only about using social media while you’re watching television.

Pigato spoke about the data aspect of social TV, saying:

On the brand side, there are so many things they’re learning to do, and so much of it involves big data.

Facebook has much richer data, which is very, very important to both brands and TV shows. They just know so much about you.

TV shows need the data from social media to get rich profiles of people so they can customize their ads, or even cater plot lines and cater content around their viewers.

Lewis, meanwhile, shared the unique perspective of social TV through the eyes of a programmer with a target audience that is far too young for Facebook and other social networks, saying:

Our audience typically isn’t on Facebook or Twitter or anything else because they’re three-year-olds, but we’re definitely focused on reaching parents.

If your two-year-old is on Twitter, that’s bad. If your two-year-old is watching The Hunger Games, that’s really bad.

Broadcast is still easily the king, especially until the kid is four or five, especially because you can just put on the channel and walk away.

Then they learn how to use the remote, and you’re in trouble. That’s when the iPad comes out, and there’s Netflix.

On the types of content from Sesame Workshop that does spark social media buzz, he mentioned a parody of The Hunger Games featuring Cookie Monster, “The Hungry Games,” saying:

We see a spike in mentions when that type of content airs.

The nature of puppets is that you can’t be as agile as you want to be. Cookie Monster has one joke.

Cookie Monster’s Facebook page has 8.7 million fans. Elmo has 5.7 million. You’re seeing a bunch of 13- to 35-year-olds who remember this character from when they were kids and, in Cookie Monster’s case, are still relevant. That type of cultural relevance is something you really can’t build overnight. The nice part about Facebook is that we get to maintain that connection.

Lewis also discussed his company’s focus on education, saying:

The best way to educate children effectively through TV is to get parents engaged, as well.

Co-viewing is really the holy grail of the educational aspect of television. Five years ago, the TV was the entertainment center of the household. That’s less and less true every day.

I’d like to see more co-viewing on the devices — looking at YouTube videos with a kid on your lap.

Pigato mentioned a social TV technology that is gaining traction, saying:

On “Modern Family,” they’re eating cereal, and you can click on the bowl and get a coupon for Corn Flakes.

He also made the point that technology can only go so far, and that content is still king, adding:

At the end of the day, you see lots of great social campaigns for TV shows, and they fail, because the TV is terrible.

As much as we talk about social TV, the best thing you can do is have a great show.

Readers: How often do you interact with Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks while watching television?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.