TV + Social = Brand Love

In order to be successful in social TV, you must also make the investment in TV and not only the social part of that equation, says Jia Zhuang, ITV's Senior Commercial Innovation Manager.

Hello. My name is Jia and I work in commercial innovation here at ITV.

Today I’d like to share my opinions on ‘social TV’, a buzz term that seems to have captured the imagination of the TV and social media industry, (just Google ‘Social TV’ and see the extensive list of articles that pop up).

What is social TV? It’s by no means a new phenomenon. Audiences have been discussing television programmes in living rooms, in the school playground and around the “watercooler” (to overuse another industry buzz word) in their workplace since the very beginning of television.

It’s just the environment in which TV programmes are discussed that has shifted, from face-to-face conversations to micro-blogging platforms such as Facebook and twitter, which joined the voices of millions in real time, using hashtags to share one another’s opinion.

Once the potential of social TV was identified, various companies have tried to monetise it, with varying degrees of success. Twitter in the US is behind ideas such as ‘amplify’; where brands can amplify their TV advertising through TV discussions on twitter by a clever system of automatic syncing and targeting. (For more info on Amplify, watch this video on their YouTube channel).

I find this concept by Twitter fascinating, but my contention against this type of approach (and to highlight the benefits of content partnerships) is that without relation to the programme content, advertising will still be simply viewed as ads – a distraction.

Regardless of whether that pops into your Twitter stream a few minutes after airing the ad around a TV show or whether you’re watching an ad on your TV, unless there is a tangible content association with the programmes in mention, the relevance factor diminishes. Twitter describes their amplify product as a ‘force multiplier’, and whilst that’s true, there are more parts to advertising than simply reach and frequency.

Which is why, in order to be successful in social TV, you must also make the investment in TV and not only the social part of that equation. As ITV Commercial’s Managing Director, Fru Hazlitt recently announced “Without us, social media would be nothing.” Advertisers should approach social TV with the view of content partnerships, where exclusive access to show content, talent, and narrative allows opportunities to be created and then shared with a highly-engaged audience.

A terrific example of this is X Factor’s partnership with Samsung via product placement where the Galaxy range of smart phones and tablets were weaved subtlety into programme content. Wherever fans were talking about the show, whether it be on broadcast, social media or the official app, Samsung featured throughout, creating deep ties with the audience.

Social TV is about building brands, allowing audiences to connect and share in highly engaged discussions and allow brands to harness the halo effects from the emotional attachment audiences have with TV programmes. After all, emotional connections is what all great advertising aspire to achieve, and only a few ever succeed. And just in case you’re stuck for ideas, I know some amazing guys and girls in sponsorship activation who can be of help. ;)