A Social TV Check Up With Dr. Walton

“I was wrong”, ok there I said it. Those words aren’t often uttered in the media world but I’ll say it,…albeit reluctantly. In my last post I suggested that TV needs to stand up for itself in the world of online bullies. I proclaimed that TV can exist without social media but not the other way around. So TV is a little older, a little wiser (smart TVs) and starting to lose some of its cords (hairs_. It’s time to send TV to Dr. Walton for a check up to diagnose what’s wrong and, more importantly, how to get better.

Dr. Walton first suggests that you need to monitor your backchannels, “when is the last time you had these checked out?” “What do you mean my back channels? You must mean channels like City TV, TSN or HGTV”.

No, a backchannel is the conversation you drive on-line. It’s the social impression caused by what airs on your regular channels. The key insight here is to realize that the impressions realized through your TV campaign are now are now causing expressions that are not confided to a living room or discussion with co-workers. Social media has amplified the reach of one voice so now we must account for these expressions turning back into more impressions via the backchannel. With over half the population accessing the internet while watching TV, and that number is close to 70% among Smartphone and tablet users, it’s a persistent companion and source for your brand to connect to target consumers.

It’s a good thing you came in now to learn about your back channels because they are incredibly contagious but, if treated properly, can provide immense value to your campaign. Not all conversation that goes on via the back channel is positive. Be aware of the image and tone of the message in your client’s ads. If there are negative undertones you can inadvertently cause a backlash of social impressions that can leave your brand damaged.

Don’t be scared of the backchannel though. It is having a positive effect on television viewing. Live viewing is up 7% over last year. The ability to share your viewing experience through social media is driving more people to want to watch together and is also forcing them to do so in order to avoid spoilers posted on their friends’ Twitter and Facebook accounts. Dr Walton reminds you that you need to talk about what is on your mind as keeping it bottled up prevents you from finding a solution. Use your TV message to talk to consumers. A simple hash tag on screen can immediately cause up to 10 times the number of backchannel tweets and conversations.

This leads me to ask; what is the best way to measure TV engagement in relation to online? Does the most chatter means it’s the best or should we be looking at the positive backchannel impressions? In the world of most mosts and best bests it’s hard to think that maybe stats do lie….sometimes. Does having the most goals make you the best hockey player? Does having the most friends mean you can be a best friend? This is where we run into the problem with social media. Are we simply looking at the number of likes without taking into account brand engagement?

Don’t just take my word on this. It’s always good to get a second opinion, and the public feel the same way. People are checking out what others are saying online. In fact, 17% say they started viewing a show because of social media and 31% have continued to watch a show because of social impressions and the ability to connect with others. Live viewing is also being driven by the TV networks as they are including live tweeting by celebrities and actors during programs. This extra content delivered in real time amplifies the T.V. experience and gives you larger than life feeling of connecting to people without borders.

Dr. Walton’s TV check up continues in my next post when we will examine the impact of mobile and companion apps in the multi-screen TV environment. In the interim, tell me what YOU think.