3 Predictions for How Facebook’s New Listening Tool Will Impact Social TV

By Adam Flomenbaum 

A New, Optional Way to Share and Discover Music, TV and Movies_5In an announcement Wednesday on Facebook’s newsroom blog, Product Manager Aryeh Selekman, introduced a new way for mobile users to share what they’re watching or listening to:

“When writing a status update – if you choose to turn the feature on – you’ll have the option to use your phone’s microphone to identify what song I playing or what show or movie is on TV.”

First, Facebook updated its status experience by allowing users to employ verbs in their updates. In the last year, Selekman revealed, more than 5 billion status updated made use of “these kinds of feelings and activities.” This gives users more flexibility, but more, it gives Facebook and its advertisers more information. The newest, Shazam-like update, will take the status update a step further.

We have documented how Facebook has been courting media companies in its push to become a bigger player in the social TV and social advertising space. By being able to identify the specific season and episode a user is watching, and making it easily shareable, this may be Facebook’s biggest social TV advancement yet.

This is not to say that this feature will excite users, and it is more likely the case that brands and advertisers will have to do most of the legwork to get users to both activate the feature and then use it. Still, if it does become popular, there will be major social TV ramifications, and the effort for brands may be worth it.

Here are three predictions for how Facebook’s “new, optional way to share and discover music, TV and movies” will impact social TV:

1) It will result in more likes for TV show and network pages. Recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm have made it more difficult for brands to appear in a user’s newsfeed without a paid push. This has resulted in less engagement and less social referral traffic for brands. The new listening tool is Facebook extending an olive branch to networks. If a user is watching ’24’ and employs the new feature to post a status update, the official ‘24’ Facebook page will be tagged. This will have an algorithmic advantage over a rarely visited brand page (making no monetary push) appearing in the newsfeeds of the user’s friends.

2) TV advertisers will have a viable cross-platform, targeted solution. Facebook has stated that the tool will only help identify songs and shows, but that they will not be storing the data. Should this change (and I think it will depending on its popularity), then imagine this scenario: if 5,000 people use the new feature to update their status about NBC’s ‘The Voice,’ wouldn’t the distributors for the forthcoming ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ want to come to Facebook when marketing the movie? They would easily be able to target a highly engaged group of singing-competition-loving, tech-savvy users. One of many such scenarios.

3) Users will turn to Facebook more to talk about TV and music. “Want” is the key word here. If you read Selekman’s post, you can tell that choice is a central tenet of the new release. Facebook has erred in the past by making status updates about music automatic. When Spotify first launched in the U.S., almost all users mistakenly opted into displaying their song choices on Facebook, and people’s tickers became filled Spotify updates. Facebook fixed this problem, but it made users more aware of what they were opting into, and resulted in many disconnected apps. This time around, Facebook is not forcing users to turn the feature on, and are promoting it as a useful identification tool, which, for them, will hopefully result in more people using it. I think that users will gravitate toward this.

A New, Optional Way to Share and Discover Music, TV and Movies from Facebook on Vimeo.