TV – The Original Social Medium

Recently I made a statement in a presentation that TV is the original ‘social’ media. This may not be a groundbreaking observation as, almost daily, we flock around our co-workers’ desks to voice our opinions on the plot developments of our favourite shows. We recognize that attending Super Bowl or Oscar parties, gathering to watch sports or the new Bachelorette is part of our social lives. The point however, isn’t that TV is the original social medium: it’s that it‘s still the future of social media as well.

It is interesting that exploring our past allows us to maintain our future focus here at Media Experts.  I didn’t grow up sitting in front of an antenna TV, eating TV dinners on trays. I wasn’t alive for the “Who shot JR?” phenomenon, or old enough to care about the M.A.S.H finale. I certainly do remember when Seinfeld went off the air and when Survivor declared Richard Hatch its first winner. These events captivated the country. If you didn’t watch, it was like being grounded the day of a big party everyone is talking about. You simply can’t relate. This was still a time when TV was the singular dominant force and no other media was truly providing that social experience or the ability to connect with another person.

Fast forward to today and after analyzing data to see how many hours tuned on television we have compared to years past, or how many people are alternatively choosing to spend time online as opposed to TV, the evidence is clear. For all the commotion generated by social media, original forms of media control our day to day lives. So here’s what I would do: go onto your Twitter or Facebook and discover what is being discussed. I suspect that in all likelihood it relates to TV in some way (whether it be a favorite actor or what was on last night_. Isn’t it interesting that with all the conversation about the new media that its main purpose is to update us on the original ones?

Many people try to focus on Social Media as an enabler for TV; a complimentary medium to reach out to niche audiences and promote further engagement with shows and the consumer’s favorite brands. Take the example of surfing the internet while watching TV; despite popular belief that Social Networking is the number one cross-platforming activity; it actually ranks number 3 behind internet shopping and communication (email/instant messaging_. It might be a better business model for companies to focus on directly and smoothly connecting the customer to a purchase point, rather than acquiring Facebook “likes”.

Currently, the average person spends 118 hours watching TV each month vs. just 7.6 hours spent on social networks. How long will it take Facebook to catch T.V. you ask? Well, using the current growth rates for each it will take 5 years before Facebook will account for 10% of the time we spend with our TVs. I’m not here trying to convince you that social media isn’t more relevant now then it was a year ago and exponentially more so than five years ago, just that TV viewers remain as passionate for their favorite television programs as they ever were.

TV need not worry about the new kid on the block. Television needs to sit back and relax instead of trying to adapt to new a community and new world full of foreign languages. TV can exist without social media, but not the other way around. In the world of 360 solutions and content integrations across all platforms, the base, the rock, the big fundamental is still television. An interesting example of this comes to us via a cola giant and the hot new show we at Media Experts pegged early as a hit. In an effort to become more relevant with today’s youth, and to and stay cutting edge, Pepsi abandoned its traditional significant Super Bowl advertising campaign and electing to explore a new social media concept. Pepsi called this trading a “moment” for a “movement”.

Tuning into X-Factor a year later one can see Pepsi has admitted their mistake and gone back to their roots. Pepsi can be seen aggressively marketing the promotion giving the winner of X Factor an appearance in their Super Bowl advertisement. So Television, take a deep breath and a sigh of relief. Know your place is safe as the original and future social medium….and don’t worry your secret is safe with us here at Media Experts.  – Chris Walton