10 August 2012

Now we love The Shire as much as no one but any person not tuned in on its debut would be forgiven for switching on after seeing all the comments on Facebook and Twitter. #guilty

TV and social media can create immensely enhanced audience engagement and retention as evidenced in The Voice and more recently demonstrated in the Olympics with over 2.5 million tweets within the 24 hours leading up to and including the opening ceremony. #ridic

Lucky for all you non-geeks, search excluded, it’s not only about keeping up with technological advances but recognising that the true nature of ‘social TV’ is fundamentally built around social psychology.

There are three key points that contribute to the success of social interaction with TV programs.

1. Divided yet focused attention actually creates greater engagement.

A study conducted by Muller in 2003 proved that dividing our attention between two correlated but separate stimuli actually creates more focus. A ‘casual’ study conducted by Corpuz & Treasure in 2012 at North Bondi RSL verified Muller’s findings: “...we watched in amazement at the Gen Y Bondi Hipsters, who had the uncanny ability to compute betting odds and place wagers on their iPhones while at the same time watching the State of Origin. What was more remarkable was how they were able to remove their handsets from their vacuum-packed jeans.” (Corpuz & Treasure, pp. 2) #guiltyagain

When TV viewers are engaged with programming on one screen AND also another visual task such as an app, this creates ‘forced selective attention’ on two different yet correlated items, leading to a far greater level of engagement without distraction. 

2. Group TV engagement pulls larger groups and furthers audience retention and interaction.

It goes without saying how popular the social media scene is just by looking at the overwhelming success Mr Zuckerburg has encountered with his billion-dollar enterprise, Facebook. The social media arena allows for people to talk openly and share opinions and thoughts on topical issues such as Seal’s nail polish selection and the hot rigs on display in the men's French water polo team. #vivelafrance

This immersive and interactive environment is one of the richest sources of WOMM (word-of-mouth marketing). Due to its credibility, WOMM is an incredibly persuasive promotional tool that has the ability to create hype and drive audience to any TV show – even The Shire.

Another crucial piece to the tele-social puzzle is the social identity theory which outlines the importance a group setting has, as the power of conformity and social influences are propelled to new levels.

3. Seamless integration between the program and social platforms is crucial.

Social media goes together with TV like Hamish needs Andy and Andy needs Hayley – the sky’s the limit when you join these two highly compatible platforms.

However, in order for the social experience and TV relationship to work, it needs to be easy and seamless. People won’t get involved if they have to spend $5 on an app then hold the screen on an 90-degree angle, pat your head, stroke your tummy and sing the Algerian national anthem – you get the point. It’s clear that free-to-air has welcomed social media with open arms and with the increase in locally produced content on our screens over the past few years there’s been an even greater opportunity to maximise the benefits of social media through integration.

As the industry continues to become more fragmented and the media landscape continues to change, it’s crucial to recognise areas of strength and to adapt and develop conventional business methods and processes. Like The Shire needs the tattoo industry, TV needs social interaction to increase viewer attention and engagement.

But sadly there’s NO reason to listen to us.

Social media is just a passing phase and TV programs don’t need to worry about leveraging these consumer-driven platforms, said no one, ever.


Hayley Treasure
Channel Nine

John Corpuz
Match Media

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