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The increase of smartphone and tablet usage last year prompted the rapid evolution of a trend known as second screen viewing. Second screen viewing as the name suggests, describes the practice of using an additional device while watching TV and since most mobile phones are able to connect to the Internet and social networks, it was only a matter of time before we combined social media with one of the nation’s favourite past times. (A recent Nielsen survey showed that nearly half of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices as a second screen whilst watching TV shows). While that’s great for our ever decreasing attention span, why should marketers care?

The ability to connect with people in their home is a huge boon for marketers, add to this the fact that marketers now have the ability to control what’s being seen on TV and subsequently discussed online and you’ll understand the excitement around this. Twitter recently commented that it believes that its network is fast becoming the ultimate second screen. How are they able to make such a bold claim? Aside from the fact that it’s Twitter and so few will argue, there are some stats behind this. The company’s recent acquisition of TV analytics start-up, Bluefin labs has enable it to get extensive access to TV viewing data, allowing it to throw out statistics such as: 60% of Twitter users use the social network while watching TV. When you consider that recent stats have UK Tweeters pegged around the 10million mark, you begin to see why it’s important.

Why second screen?

Social networking is a great way to connect with people. Traditionally, TV consumption was limited to your living room and those within it but throw a social network, such as Twitter, into the mix and you’re able to share your experience with the whole of the UK; all you need is a hashtag to use or follow and you’re ready to get involved. Many broadcasters have already caught onto this and are actively encouraging participation, it’s not uncommon to see a bespoke hashtag for a particularly good or bad act on a reality TV show and those of you familiar with the Million Pound Drop will know that there’s an option to play along at home, using your mobile device.

Some shows have been extremely obvious with their social media marketing and have actively encouraged its audience to jump on Twitter mid-show. Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall openly addressed the audience in a piece to camera during his last documentary and invited them to tweet their opinions throughout the program using #FishFight.


Image used under CC via Justin Scott Campbell on Flickr

What does this mean for marketers?

It’s no secret that TV engagement is sometimes difficult to measure accurately, but with second screen viewing there’s huge potential to integrate social activity into your marketing. Not only can you see instant results online via the conversations it’s driven, but (given that you’ve got the right analytic setup) you’re also left with something that’s measurable.

Things to consider

There are significant benefits of second screen viewing that businesses can and should capitalise on, if you’re thinking about bringing it into your marketing mix then there are several things to bear in mind before getting involved:

  • If possible, integrate a bespoke hashtag into TV marketing to encourage involvement.
  • Schedule your TV campaign around peak times and ensure your social account is manned during that period.
  • If you’re piggy backing on someone else’s programme, it’s fine to share content during the show using the hashtag, but make sure it’s useful to the audience and above all, relevant.
  • Recognise social patterns to find the best times to publish, on Twitter for example the way users tweet during a reality TV show is noticeably different to during a drama.
  • If people pick up your hashtag or respond to you, make sure you respond quickly, second screen viewers are ‘in the moment’ so there’s no point scheduling a load of posts if you can’t get back to them until the next day.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried linking your social activity with TV ads or broadcasts? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us

AUTHOR: Harriet Rhodes
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