Social TV

I’ve spoken in the past about our local CBS affiliate WTSP-10 and their Moms Tampa Bay effort as a great example of “old media” that gets Social and has created something quite powerful using that ‘ol stick of theirs.

WTSP’s 6 PM newscast now features “news pics” sent in by viewers in almost every show.  They headline the story, run through the video they have, and on the way out, the anchor says,

“Here’s some pictures of the scene sent in by our viewers”.

Nice effort to be more interactive.  If I was going to Optimize it, I’d like to see it a bit more personalization, which increases the prep time, of course.  But it would be nice to hear the anchor say “Jody in Seminole sent us this picture” or something similar. 

The challenge with that is someone has to probably respond to the e-mail address or phone number, ask for name and location, and probably (to be on the safe side) get permission to use the name.  You could take care of a lot of this with some automation on the Submit with an auto-responder or similar technology.

This weekend I witnessed evidence another station in this area might also get it, public station WEDU-3.  What was great about this execution is it ‘worked” from a TV perspective; in other words, it did not feel “forced” as these cross-media attempts often do. 

Aside: Doesn’t it drive you crazy when TV people say “Log In to our web site for more info”?  Log in?  Why make it sound like a chore or you need an account to access the expanded info?  Can we please say “Visit our web site” instead of “Log In” you TV folks?

Anyway, I had this local political talk show on in the background while reading the Sunday paper (Yes, I actually watch TV and read the Sunday paper, I enjoy the Serendipity).  The moderator winds up a segment, then pitches the premise for the next segment.

Then he says:

“Before we hear from the panelists, let’s listen to what you have to say on this topic”.  They cut to audio recordings of 4 callers to their “Comment Line”.  A couple of calls on one side of the argument, a couple on the other side.  As the audio plays they have the spoken words in type on the screen, with the name and location of the caller.

Coming out the other side of this viewer commentary, the moderator looks straight at the camera and says “Thanks very much for your comments, keep them coming” and promos the Comment Line.

Whoa.  Nice package.  Very matter of fact delivery, not all breathless and “We Care” crap.  The callers were very well-spoken, obviously someone had gone through and pulled the plums for the topic.  Sliding in the promo was seemless due to the immediate context, and these 4 short audio pieces were a fabulous set-up for the panelists, who often referred to the callers by name in their follow-on discussion.

Very, very smooth for TV.  If you’ve ever been involved in TV studio production, you know that stuff like this looks easy but it’s also easy to screw it up, to have it come off fake and plastic-looking.  There is a huge difference between having the talent say “We got an e-mail, here is what it says” and the using the actual Voice of the Customer.

Pun intended.

In other words, I think someone actually thought it all through, every step, the timing, the shots, the language, all of it.  I don’t think it was an “accident” this worked so well.  And that’s really good news, because it means the TV folks are starting to get it.

Don’t underestimate the power of the “the stick”, it has tremendous reach.  All they have to do is figure out how to Optimize the Interface a bit, you know, Band 3.  And this effort was a great example of just that; the audio bits, and the opportunity to participate, are the Pull.  I thinks it’s a good bet they will get a lot more callers to the Comment Line next week, don’t you think?

Hey, people might even rehearse what they are going to say to improve the likelihood their bit will make the cut and be on TV.

So, how are the TV stations in your market doing with integrating Social elements?  For all I know, the stations in my market are late-comers, not leaders in this area.

Or, perhaps the more relevant question is: Do you watch TV anymore?


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