In a recent presentation at the PromaxBDA conference in Singapore, a conference focused on marketing TV and video content, social media agency We Are Social’s regional managing partner in Asia, Simon Kemp, explored how new trends such as second screening and social TV are changing how the audience responds to the content.
The media habits of today’s audiences simultaneously blend multiple devices and content types to create new kinds of immersive entertainment and information.
These new ‘media environments’ offer great opportunities to brands who understand people’s underlying motivations, but they can also confuse the uninformed marketer, and create new kinds of challenges that go far beyond the clutter and saturation issues that we’re already familiar with.
So how can marketers ensure their focus is on seizing opportunities, rather than overcoming challenges?
Fuel social conversations to drive mass awareness
The first opportunity for content producers and marketers is to inspire conversations that will help to spread the word about their brand.
Whilst the surest way of driving conversation is to ensure your content is – literally – ‘remarkable’, activities like teasing content in advance to key influencers, and working with them to engage their audiences around it, can help to build initial momentum.
Alternatively, something as simple as adding relevant hashtags to content can make it easier for people to find others who are discussing it too. This has even proven to improve the performance of TV commercials.
As with all activities in social though (and marketing in general), the trick is to start with people’s behaviour and motivations first: why would people choose to talk about the content? What’s in it for them?
Deepen engagement with ‘bonus’ social content
Once you’ve got the conversation going, you’ll want to keep it going too.
Creating, publishing and promoting additional, socially optimised content is a great way to fuel discussions.
What’s more, stand-out images, animated GIFs, and short videos can all help to make those conversations more visible.
Managed carefully, the sharing of such ‘bonus’ content can help inspire UGC as well, whether it’s in the form of memes around key images, or something a bit more epic like the Star Wars audience recreations.
Plan and prepare for likely scenarios in advance
Live events are often the apex of social conversation, and brands like Oreo and Samsung have already demonstrated the benefits of getting those occasions right with their ‘Dunk in the Dark’ and Oscars selfie tweets.
However, live events shouldn’t just be about one-off, opportunistic posts; the best brands invest significant time and resource preparing for potential scenarios and outcomes of such events in advance, creating a wealth of content that will allow them to deliver the greatest impact at the crucial moment.
Our work with adidas during the 2014 World Cup is proof that such preparation can pay dividends.
Ensure social content is platform and device neutral
As we saw above, people share for their own reasons, and for their own benefit – not just because a brand asks or tells them to.
Because of this, people will invariably use the channels they’re most comfortable with to interact with each other and share things.
When it comes to chatting with their friends – which is the most common ‘TV multi-tasking’ activity – it’s increasingly about using chat apps:
Because of this, content producers and brands need to ensure that their social content is easily transferrable between different platforms.
That means thinking not just about the content itself, but also about its shape and format, such as square vs. portrait vs. landscape, or the image resolution, as well as the size of the file and its type, for example, only using compression formats that can be easily used across different kinds of device.
Weave brand partners into your social storytelling
Content producers shouldn’t just look at social activities as a marketing cost; wherever there’s an engaged audience, there’s an opportunity to build greater value too.
Look for opportunities to bring likeminded partners into the conversation, and work with them to ensure that the audience seed these brands as adding value (rather than interrupting or merely riding on the bandwagon).
Extend the content experience onto additional screens
The examples in the SlideShare above also show that ‘second screen content’ has proven very popular for a number of content brands, whether it’s providing simple background to the storyline, or it’s creating wholly immersive experiences across multiple screens and devices.
Such content seems to resonate with audiences too, with Microsoft finding that almost seven in 10 people feeling it’s “more relevant, useful, and informative”.
Use content like games to maintain engagement
People sometimes struggle focus their attention on a ‘primary’ screen though, and it will sometimes be necessary to offer ‘alternative’ content experiences – built around that primary screen experience – to maintain people’s engagement for as long as possible.
Games and quizzes are some of the easiest ways to do this: they stimulate different parts of the brain compared to more ‘passive’, consumed content, so offer a different kind of neural reward.
They’re often more immersive than conventional video content too, which means that they help enrich the experience for everyone, including those who are already engaged in the primary content.
Such content allows people to engage at different times too – not just when they’re consuming the original content. Games and quizzes are just as relevant to the daily commute or lunch hour as they are to primetime TV viewing, and content brands that can offer such additional stimuli to their audiences are well placed to extend their reach and relevance in people’s lives.