Social Media 'big part of the decision' to make 'Anderson' live

By Natan Edelsburg 

Anderson Cooper has had a big year. The news anchor and talk show host has continue to grow his influence offline and on the social web. His syndicated talk show Anderson Live (formerly Anderson) just announced it’s season two premiere, and built into the production is a robust social TV strategy to take advantage of the new format. We talk to Executive Producer Terence Noonan about their social TV plans for the new season.

Noonan discusses how big a role social media played in making the show live. This is a trend we will continue to see grow especially after Andy Cohen has had such success with Watch What Happens Live. Live TV creates endless opportunities for social TV integrations and lets you rethink a show’s format with several matured social platforms available to try out. Even before the show premieres, they’re already using feedback from Twitter and more to book guests and co-hosts.

Lost Remote: What’s the social TV/digital strategy for this season? How will you be doing more than last?

Terence Noonan: Social media is a huge part of the show. It was a big part of the decision to make the show live, because we want to involve social media even more this season. If there is a topical news story going on, we can ask our viewers to tweet us what questions they want answered since we will be live. It gives them access like they never had before and a direct contact with people you could never have access to.

For example, after we announced we will be having daily co-hosts, someone tweeted “Kirstie Alley would be great co-host” and then Kirstie Alley tweeted back – “I would be great.” So now we are reaching out to her. It’s just another way for our audience to feel a part of the show. I mean there is no other show that gives viewers the opportunity to ask stars like Angelina Jolie or Madonna a question.

We also have this VIP tweet seat that’s really cool. We will have 5 or 6 fans have VIP seats and have the ability to live tweet through out the show. Anderson is also about to hit his 3 millionth twitter follower. He is very active on Twitter responding to viewers and fans. We want them to be a part of the show and really want the show to live outside of the hour that it’s on in the digital universe which is why we are integrating even more social media this season through several new initiatives.

“Talk with #AndersonLive,” which allows real-time feedback from fans that will be incorporated into the show via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social networks. Viewers will also be directed to a talk hub at where daily polls, post-show webcasts and social chats take place. We really want the viewers to feel engaged and involved in the show this season, making it more of an interactive experience for them. There is no other show where viewers have the opportunity or access to ask direct questions to celebrities like Angelina Jolie and Madonna.

“Anderson Summer Instagram Photo-A-Day Challenge,” this month long photo sharing contest on Instagram which begins Monday, August 6th provides a place for fans to post photos from their summer for a chance to win various prizes. Anderson will also post his personal photos from the summer.

“Stump Anderson,”No one can forget when Cheech Marin beat out Anderson on Jeopardy or when 12-year-old spelling bee champion Arvind crushed Anderson last season in a spelling contest. We have found viewers love to send in questions to try to stump Anderson, which is why fans will be encouraged this season to send in fun trivia questions via social networks to be answered by Anderson during a live webcast. Fans will compete for prizes and the “I Stumped Anderson” badge of honor.

LR: How important is it for Anderson to be active on social?

Noonan: Anderson really enjoys interacting with his viewers. He is very active on Twitter and is now getting into Instagram. He likes to connect with people, hear their stories, their questions, their comments. As I said, he is about to hit his 3 millionth twitter follower and is very active on Twitter constantly responding to viewers and fans.

LR: Anything else?

Noonan: “Anderson Live” is the only show that will enable viewers to interact throughout the show via Skype, Twitter, text and email. Anderson can respond to viewers’ comments in real time allowing the audience to not only watch the show but be a part of it transforming news and pop culture stories into water cooler conversations.

Update: Don Day adds in comments below: “What is interesting here is that the show – for most at least – will be live to tape. In NYC the show airs at noon ET. In Philly it’s on at 9am ET. In Chicago it’s on at 11am ET (10am CT) (and on and on). Whatever hour they pick to do the show “live” – it will be on tape for most of the country. Live with Kelly does this fairly effectively, but that program has a large swath of 9am ET clearances – and while it has a social layer, it certainly isn’t real-time.”