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Are media companies making the most of social media?

5 February, 2014

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Having recently discussed the power of viral videos and engaging TV adverts, and currently doing a lot of social media speaker events, I have been thinking a lot about how we categorise and consume “content”.

My recent social media talks have involved explaining how organisations and business leaders can engage with digital media and really understand how their customers are using it to communicate and share.

So how does this all fit together? How do we create and categorise different types of content? Does it matter where content is posted? What has most impact now? (See links below to previous blogs discussing these themes.)

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards and the Netflix model

Some of you may have seen the 5-minute video of Kevin Spacey talking last year about the TV industry and the Netflix model of commissioning new programmes.

[If you cant see this video click here]

Kevin Spacey talks about when he went to TV networks asking for them to commission House of cards – all were interested, but all wanted a pilot. However, pilots are expensive (of 146 pilots created one year at a cost of £300m – £400m, only 56 went to series). And, Spacey explains, “we wanted to tell a longer story” – to develop the characters over time.

Netflix was the only network that didn’t need a pilot. They said “we know our data, and we know our audiences will watch it”. They commissioned and released the entire House of Cards series on Netflix in one go. Netflix had learned what the music industry hadn’t: give people what they want, when they want it. If you do this, they will pay for it.

Spacey points out the change in the way we consume content. People watch television shows and films alike on their TVs, their phones, their laptops and ipads. They can watch a whole series in one weekend. He therefore predicts that in the next decade, the differentiation between films and TV series will disappear.

What makes a film, a film? Does it have to be two hours long? Does a television programme have to be aired once a week to be called a series? For kids growing up now there is no difference: it’s all CONTENT; it’s all STORIES.

“Give people stories”

Give people STORIES and “they will talk about it, binge on it, share with their friends and make animated gifs from it. They will engage with it in an intimate way that blockbusters can only dream of.”

Watching the Kevin Spacey video reminded me of this Johnson’s advert I saw last year:

[If you can’t see this video, click here]

The Johnsons advert is really engaging. It puts the life-changing event of having a child into a story. All the characters play a part – they all change as a result of a child being born.

Television Vs Social Media advertising

I first saw this advert on Facebook, and I was enthralled. I watched it all the way through, and shared it with friends who are also parents – I was totally engaged.

It was two-three weeks later before I saw the advert on television. And while I remembered the Facebook advertising, the television version had slightly less impact. It might be because I’d already seen it before, but I also think many people mentally “switch off” when they see TV adverts. They also can’t instantly share them with friends – they can’t engage in the same way they do when they’re using social media.

Just as Kevin Spacey wonders if TV companies are delivering people what they want, when and where they want it; I wonder if advertising and media companies are really grabbing the opportunities of social media? YouTube and Facebook advertising campaigns etc.

Are some being left behind and missing the opportunities of engaging with people on a really personal level through social media?

How well do they really know their customers?

Are they making the most of the opportunity to personalise their content?

How well are they telling the stories that people really want?

I’d really welcome your thoughts on this!



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