An inside look at CNN’s election social TV success

By Natan Edelsburg 

Hurricane Sandy is still dominating news coverage, but the election is still rumbling our way as well. CNN has had tremendous success this election cycle that has put them at the top of Trendrr’s social leader board for all three presidential debates and the veep debate (more than ten networks aired these debates). We spoke with Steve Krakauer the  Senior Digital Producer CNN/US about the strategy that led to this success. 

Leveraging the main screen to drive social TV activity:

CNN launched two impressive tools. Their “Exclusive on-air undecided voters meter,” provided “viewers a real-time glimpse of what these voters like and don’t like hearing in the debate, conducted from the battleground state of Ohio.” They promoted #CNNUndecideds to drive social activity.

The second tool was the #CNNDebateClock, which “much like a possession clock in football, our real-time debate clock tells you how long each of the candidates have spoken.” This helped viewers see and then share how long it took a candidate to make a specific point about an issue.

Krakauer told Lost Remote that their major efforts on the main screen were about, “leveraging activity in the social space,” which was done successfully via associating hashtags with each tool.

Live blogging to “participate in that overall conversation”:

CNN produced a  second screen experience that revolved around their live blog, powered by Scribble. “We used them for the Olympics, especially with conventions and debates,” Krakauer explained. He described that it was “a live blog…for peopel who couldnt get to a TV, but also to be a real second screen companion.”

Krakauer also explained how important it his to his team to innovate the second screen experience for TV news. “On the news side,” he described that second screen innovation, “hasn’t happened as quickly and we wanted to own that space.”

He also described how important it is for them to curate the social conversation from the right influencers, not just CNN influencers. “We will bring in tweets from Michael Moore, Glenn Beck… it was CNN centered but not CNN exclusive,” he explained.

Enabling everyone to be a social TV producer:

As we reported, via their live stream they leveraged SnappyTV to allow anyone to snap and clip their favorite moments in real time. Krakauer described that this was “another really unique thing that hadn’t been done in the news space.”

Tracking success and growing CNN’s followers:

“@CNN doubled in last 11 months to a year, well over 6 million, definitely on the upswing,”  Krakauer told Lost Remote. “I like to think that coming from TV side we’re making it a full representaiton on what’s happening on CNN, matching up what’s on air, retweeting talent and reproters out on field and show accounts – much more of a companion experience,” he added.

They’re also actively tracking pageviews, comments and the growth of both their @CNN account (currently at 6,341,120) and @CNNBRK (currently at 9,126,904). This a great case study on how CNN smartly leveraged their traditional channels for social TV success.