Why do we call the TV an idiot box? One of the reasons that I can think of is the one way communication. With TV we continue to consume content which most of the times does not match with our interests and there is no way we can interact with the content. If a political or a sports debate is on, I would love to express my views while watching the program or let’s say the reality show Bigg Boss provides a way where users can vote for their contestants in real time, then I would prefer to do that right away. This need has given rise to Social TV, a general term for technology that supports communication and social interaction while watching television. A technology, which is not new in the developed countries but is yet to make a strong presence in India.
Social TV and India
It was during the Adtech Delhi event in early 2012 where an expert panel had shared their thoughts about Social TV being the next big thing to happen in India. Nitin Mathur, Senior Director Marketing at Yahoo India had stated that social TV is going to be the big thing but not so soon in India.
It is 2013 and there hasn’t been any drastic adoption for Social TV since we as a nation are still trying to flip the coin of social media and evaluating whether the medium is good or bad for the society. Nevertheless, over the last year and early 2013, I have seen a new trend develop slowly – a few brands have stopped launching campaigns in silos, rather they are trying to integrate networks and different channels. And, in this integration TV is being considered majorly because of its bigger reach in the country.
Integrating TV with social media
Creating presence of TV channels: Initially we saw TV channels opening up a social media presence and engaging on the basis of the content already provided in the shows. This was phase one and the idea was to create a sizeable community on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter by making them aware of the channel, the shows that are running or would be released soon, etc.
Promotion of new TV shows: Later on TV channels, after gaining a sizeable community on the networks, started using the social medium to promote their new shows heavily. Facebook was aggressively used to post visual content and Twitter was used to create buzz, run small contests, make people talk about the show and get it trended. We saw Life OK investing a lot of time and money on social media for the promotion of 26/11 TV show, Sony PIX unveiling the “Transporter TV series” on social media with a well integrated campaign and Star World doing the same when it brought the Australian TV series ‘Packed To The Rafters’ show for the Indian audiences. Social media has been the crucial medium throughout.
Promotion of world TV premieres: TV channels, at the same time, saw that social media could be a great medium for promoting the World TV premieres of popular movies by engaging the audience. Set MAX chalked out an extensive campaign on social media before the premiere of “Ek Tha Tiger” on TV. An exclusive game was designed for the Facebook community that provided options to unlock levels and plays around with the number 9, matching with the premiere date of December 9. Star Movies India created the same level of engagement with a 360 degree marketing campaign for “The Avengers” premiere. With ads on YouTube and a steady stream of updates on its Facebook page, the channel went on to create an interesting app to experience more about the Avengers.
Twitter – the second screen
This trend now has seen some interesting changes. Television channels, who had used Twitter to create conversations, reaching out to people to conduct quick contests, are now trying to test it as a second screen or a companion device that allows a television audience to interact with the content they are consuming, such as TV shows, movies, music, etc.
Sony PIX worked closely with Twitter to promote MIB 3 television premiere by engaging in live conversations with the viewers, thereby making it the first ever interactive movie premiere in India. A Twitter handle would appear during certain important scenes to encourage conversations. The same was followed during the recently concluded “Nach Baliye 5” finale by Star Plus. Viewers of the live show on TV were invited to take part in the Twitter contest to predict the Nach Baliye 5 winner. And the recent TV channel to follow the trend is Colors TV which has walked the same path to engage with twitterati during the Miss India contest. The below tweet provides the hint.
— Twitter India (@twi) March 29, 2013
Twitter is setting the stage for Social TV in India and the network being used as a secondary device for engagement with the television content, highlights how effectively the medium can be used. Twitter’s ongoing integration with IPL6 has created a new benchmark in this direction. 2013 will be exciting as we will see a bigger synergy between TV, Bollywood and social media. And definitely the global town square – Twitter will play a greater role.