TV networks have long competed against one another and consistently face the challenge of attracting new viewers while maintaining the attention of current audiences. With the advent of social media, networks have altered marketing techniques to better serve their viewers, and new web-based networks including have emerged as popular alternatives to broadcast television, especially among the younger demographic. Social media marketing helps networks and shows promote themselves widely and target new customers while keeping up with an evolving digital culture.
1. Primetime, Anytime
As social media campaigns and digital marketing become the norm, major television networks are turning to Facebook and Twitter as primary advertising platforms. Online video services such as Hulu and YouTube are emerging as popular alternatives to broadcast television, and companies can now accommodate customers who desire programming tailored to their own individual schedules and interests. Advertising-wise, this means using social media can help determine the commercial desires or buying habits of viewers, as social media networks are an ideal resource for collecting consumer data. This approach to advertising holds huge incentives for using online networks over broadcast television, and networks are catching on. No longer simply competing against each other, networks now face a new era in which online video has become increasingly popular, to the point that companies need to accommodate viewers who watch shows exclusively online.
With paid services such as Netflix, and Hulu Plus, fans can watch their favorite shows sans commercial interruption, in series order, and on-demand, without having to wait a week (or longer) between episodes. This convenience holds mass appeal but is especially attractive to younger viewers because it provides them instant gratification. Not surprisingly, services like Hulu Plus offer free trials for students to entice the sought-after youth demographic. Hulu and Netflix are so influential in the television and film spheres that they now produce original programming, available exclusively online. These companies are capitalizing on their popularity with would-be television audiences while avoiding conflict with networks over potential threats to traditional revenue generated by network broadcasts.
2. Promotional Consideration
Unlike the overplayed TV show promos that air during primetime, social media platforms promote specific programs in a far more engaging way. Consider how often we gather information on new television shows or discover programming of interest by way of social networks or creative digital campaigns. Television promotion via social media serves to facilitate a discussion and foster a sense of community amongst viewers. Fans can build a community around their favorite shows by posting clips of episodes, sharing videos with friends, and quoting their favorite characters’ lines. Hulu even offers a direct connection to Facebook, allowing viewers to comment and conduct conversations with other fans in real time. As film studios have learned, this collective action has major influence and power in the marketplace. Giving fans an opportunity to react publicly provides networks with valuable feedback, and can even influence producers and networks to adapt ideas in an effort to better serve viewers and assume an advantage over competitors. Over time, networks can use this feedback to gain insight into their customer base and tailor marketing techniques to effectively increase viewership.
For consumers, social media outlets are ideal venues for discovering new shows. If you follow television networks on Twitter, most new shows have their own Twitter accounts posted within a network’s umbrella feed. This is a great way to provide followers with updates and also spark interest in other shows airing on the same network. In addition, television programs that are perhaps less well known often gain popularity during awards season. When a show is nominated in any capacity (writing, directing, acting), word hits social media networks first. Using Facebook, for example, networks and fans can announce nominations alongside an episode clip, allowing friends to discover new series.
3. Viral Video: A Recipe for Success
In gaining a fan base, YouTube has become the ultimate venue for aspiring comedians, musical acts, and television personalities. As users connect with social media and use blogs to promote their work, videos can quickly gain traction and even go viral. Many famous acts (Justin Bieber and Donald Glover, for example) began as YouTube sensations and went on to pursue successful and lucrative careers in music and television. Opportunities for writers and directors have also emerged as a result of YouTube fame, proving that social media marketing is an effective self-promotion strategy, and online networks are optimal outlets for calling attention to individual talent. One successful video can lead to brilliant opportunities in television work and it all starts with a successful digital campaign.
Social media marketing offers networks and TV shows an array of creative options for promoting shows and captivating target audiences. A social media presence also gives networks access to consumer data, and as more viewers convert to watching shows online, advertisers will follow. Unlike traditional promotional techniques, using social media platforms to advertise engages audiences, fosters a sense of community and facilitates dialogue between fans. As the Internet becomes the new platform for airing network TV shows, executives must develop new ideas and devise supercool strategies around advertising via social media.