How to build and engage TV audiences through Twitter

CANNES: How do broadcasters mine into the social treasure trove that is Twitter? Twitter’s head of broadcast partnerships UK Dan Biddle attempted to answer this during one of the MipCube’s sessions in MipTV in Cannes.

He pointed out that Twitter has 200 million users the world over who post about a billion tweets every two and a half days. 60 per cent of these users access twitter using their mobile phones.

He disclosed that TV works like glue for Twitter citing UK’s example where 40 per cent of tweets are made during prime time and are about TV. “Twitter is the room we watch TV in,” he said with a confident smile. “While hash tag is the campfire around which people tell stories.”

He cited examples like Dogging Tales – a documentary which covered people who wanted to have anonymous sex. Thanks to the right push, it got some 120 million tweets. The twitter buzz drew viewers to the show like bees to a honey pot who switched on their TV sets almost immediately. Others who could not watch it tuned into it with catch up TV.

He then narrated the case of Saturday Night Takeaway one of the teams used to post a frozen pose before the kick off. They decided to get viewers to interact with their team and send in what their pose of the week should be. Audiences and followers on Twitter deluged them with poses before the show started.

He also gave the example of a show Fishfight wherein viewers were given two minutes during a commercial break to send in tweets relating to “what are your prawns eating?” with the hash tag #fishfight to supermarkets. The exercise was to raise awareness of unsustainably fed prawns. Around 16,000 tweets poured in the 120 second window.

“The effort worked well in making the show engaging,” said Biddle.

Broadcasters and producers can also take a cue from what ESPN Sports Centre does with instant replays, he said.

“They clip out key moments of the game and send it out as instant replays. They know users could do it; they decided to beat them to it,” he revealed.

“It is very engaging for followers. ESPN has also got Ford to put in some money behind it through pre-roll ads and further promote to its own community.”

Biddle’s believes that broadcasters and producers would do well to programme Twitter as they would programme their channels. “Bear in mind Twitter is the ultimate teaser, not spoiler,” he emphasized.

“Also take advantage of feedback and amplify it further even if it something you did not expect. There’s opportunity even there if you look at it different.”

His step by step bible for doing it right is as follows:

Before the show: Preview clipspredictions and start the talent talking on twitter.

During the show: Amplify the tweet spot by encouraging polling/voting and playing of games around it. And continue to get the talent tweeting.

After the show: Have recaps, sneak peeks, reviews and feedback. Reward loyalty and keep the conversation going. Finally, drive audiences to VOD or other pay platforms which can help you monetize your content.

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