Social media breathes new life into TV shows and live events

Twitter and television go hand in hand.

Twitter and television go hand in hand. In 2013, more than 36 million people sent 990 million tweets about US TV, according to Nielsen SocialGuide. Nearly every primetime show, news program, or sporting event now has its own hashtag. With all those TV tweets, companies are discovering they can insert themselves into the commentary in meaningful ways.

Not long ago, with the rise of tablets, smartphones, and alternative viewing channels, there was speculation that TV was dead. However, TV is alive and social. Now, live events such as the Grammy's, popular primetime shows, and cable breakouts are driving a new kind of interactive TV experience. And organizations and marketers want in on the action.

Companies have seen that a well-timed tweet can create an immediate buzz. One of the latest brands to successfully pull this off was Arby's during the Grammy Awards. When musician Pharrell Williams appeared wearing a hat that bore a striking resemblance to Arby's iconic logo, the chain tweeted, "Hey @Pharrell, can we have our hat back?" It was a huge hit with viewers following the #grammys hashtag with more than 83,000 retweets. Even Pharrell responded, asking Arby's if they were "trying to start a roast beef," a tweet that generated another 17,000-plus retweets.

As companies dive into real-time marketing and social TV, they need to strike the right balance. Having a consumer-first lens and planning ahead is key. Identifying seasonal shows or live events in advance, followed by developing compelling content, and, finally listening to take advantage of real-time opportunities as they arise is a must.

Have all your assets ready and spring on opportunities. Be ready to activate paid, earned, and owned in an instant, synchronizing and amplifying content across all channels for maximum reach during social TV moments.

As brands explore ways to integrate with social TV, adapting to the tone of the conversation is key to success. Viewers follow along on social media to converse with like-minded fans. They want to see authentic reactions, not be bombarded with ads. Brands have an opportunity to get their message across, but they will find greater success by embracing the group instead of talking to them.

Stephanie Moritz is senior director of social media and PR at ConAgra Foods and an instructor at the Digital Professional Institute.

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