It’s the prime time for TV shows on Twitter

Broadcast Magazine invited us to respond to comments from Glenn Brown, Twitter business Development, on how Twitter could be used more effectively by TV shows’ production companies.

The following is taken from Broadcast Magazine 27th August 2011.

Twitter gives pointers to TV Companies

Twitter director of business development Glenn Brown has outlined best practice principles for TV show producers wanting to make the most of the burgeoning social network.

Brown said the site’s success was based on the “human instinct” to ask “did you just see that?” when they watch something “that blows their mind”.

That means that Twitter is “great at building shared, live experiences” where people “show up and talk at the same time”.

“It’s not about PVRs or watching things back, it’s turning back to the past, but with a twist,” Brown said.

He outlined four basic rules that helped maximise viewer engagement:

  • Include the hashtag on air;
  • Use a creative call to action for the hashtag;
  • Showcase talent handles on screen;
  • Ask talent to live tweet during the show (whether live or recorded).

He acknowledged the rules were simple and gave some examples of how they work. The MTV Music Video Awards used an on screen call to tweet using the IfBieberMetGaga hashtag, which he said was much more engaging than simply using #VMAs.

He also said that tweets from talent could build engagement during a show, even if it had been recorded. The tweets in that case are like “a director’s commentary on a DVD”, he said. “Think about the best party you’ve ever been to. Why was it so great? Was it the venue; the mix of guests; was the host an expert or a great guide? Was there a detail about the party that was really thought out? Was there someone great that you met; or something that you could take away, like a gift?


IP Response to Glen Brown’s comments:

How TV Shows can get so much more from Twitter

All the pointers that Glen Brown the Director of Business Development of Twitter made were good and very true, but having interesting hashtags and pushing it on air will not always get the programme trending.

It’s true that Twitter lends itself to live television viewing perfectly, it needn’t “blow your mind” to get trending. For example at the moment of writing, Lidl is trending, as Jedward from Big Brother are apparently shopping there.

Some shows do brilliantly on Twitter, others not so well. Many pre-recorded shows that could be ideal for Twitter are not supported simply because the production is aired after 5.30pm. Or there’s soulless tweets from someone who seemingly isn’t even watching such as “So what did you think of that then?”, which is worthless. Other shows have nothing some days, then a torrent on others, this presumably is because the freelancer only works a couple of days a week.

Give something back to the Twitter Audience

Production teams should decide early on whether the show is to be supported by Twitter presence and resource it accordingly as well as asking “what’s in it for the Twitter fan?”

The shows that work really well on Twitter are the ones that give something back to the Twitter audience.

People love getting their name up in lights. Working on Got To Dance on Sky was unique insomuch as the audience were able to get their Tweets read out by Davina McCall live on air. As the series went on the viewers began to realise that the more descriptive and positive comments were the ones most likely to be read out.

This in itself had a positive impact on the show as not only was the show receiving many positive tweets, but more and more people were using the hashtag subject which in turn meant many topics were trending – thus its presence snowballed.

If the show isn’t live, then at least re-tweet the person who bothered saying something nice. Glen Brown is right, a mention from the presenter would be the ultimate accolade for this particular fan. For this reason, the social media presence of Talent is now becoming more and more of a factor in the initial selection process.

Another Davina show that gives something back, not only in mentions but in sheer fun, is The Million Pound Drop. The live show and relevant apps allows people to play as if they were the contestant. Twitter users get caught up in the mania which adds a whole new dimension to the viewing experience. This is one of the reasons this show won a Digital Creativity BAFTA award earlier in the year.

If the show is not live, then TV channels should try and support it as much as possible on Twitter. Misfits on Channel 4 took this on and gave all the show’s characters a Twitter account each. This enabled fans to directly interact with the characters and ask them questions, this unearthed new subplots which in turn were reflected upon on later episodes. Plus there were online games that generated as much buzz on Twitter as the TV episode. Quite brilliant.

Sam Silverwood-Cope is Head of Social Media at Intelligent Positioning and was on the BAFTA Jury for Digital Creativity 2011.