Social TV is an ongoing series by Elspeth “Ellie” Rountree that will focus on trends and topics within the industry.
By simply Googling “Social Television Importance,” it’s immediately clear how important this new and uncharted industry is becoming. Viewers are interested in not only watching TV, but learning more during the process. It’s still a burgeoning industry and most television execs are wondering what exactly “Social TV Strategy” is and how to properly (and interestingly) integrate social media into their networks.
There’s one aspect of this new form of interaction called Live-tweeting that I’m particularly interested in- not only because it will never be a stagnant, exacting science, but also because it’s part of what I do as a career. Twitter recently posted the article Live-tweeting Best Practices to which they defined the process as:
(v.): to engage on Twitter for a continuous period of time—anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets. The focus can be a big live event that everybody’s paying attention to (e.g. a TV show or an award show) or it can be an event you create yourself (e.g. a Q&A session with your fans).
Placing a time period on Live-tweeting is a bit of a stretch, and their tips can be expanded upon. The Best Practices missed out on a few key components that are essential for Live-tweeting, so I’d love to share my tips with you.
1. Alert Your Followers and Give Them Hashtags
How else will your followers know when to join and spread the word if you don’t alert them to the fact that you’ll be Live-tweeting? If possible, run the promo ahead of time during commercials or interstitials and also tweet/blog the specific hashtag information. It’s imperative to get the word out ahead of time!
2. Create Your Own Hashtag
#and #keep #it #short. When you use a hashtag, it gives everyone a theme and search topic to easily follow.
3. Tweet Using an Aggregator (and/or a Live Assistant)
If you’re lucky, during a live-tweeting event you’ll be getting overwhelmed with questions and comments from curious viewers. With that said, the good ‘ole fashioned Twitter browser platform won’t keep up with your needs. Use something like Co-Tweet or Hootsuite to keep track of every and all mentions that might interest you. Or if you’re really lucky, enlist an assistant to help sift through the incoming noise and give you the important messages worth responding to.
4. Predetermine Hashtag and Twitter Searches/Follows Before Going Live
Being prepared is key, so deciding which hashtags and twitter searches to follow is just as important as the Live-tweeting event itself. Example: if covering the Olympics, make sure to follow #olympics, #london2012, #londonolymics2012 and similar search combinations. It’s surprising how many extra conversations you can find via combining hashtag and regular Twitter searches (including common mis-spellings). This will make sure you’re not missing any chatter and will help inspire tweeting topics.
5. Ignore the Hecklers, Salute the Fans
As with many things on the internet, there are a plethora of nay-sayers, and the most common theme I see during live tweeting is, “please stop, this is too much” or “UNFOLLOW,” etc. Don’t let that get to you- what you can’t easily see is how quickly you’re gaining followers and losing the chafe. Acknowledging the constructive tweets and answering the fans is important. Being transparent is the best policy.
6. Add to the Story
This is one of the most important themes to keep in mind with Live-tweeting. What do I mean by adding to the story? When you’re Live-tweeting, add to the conversation by exposing something to the crowd they wouldn’t have known before. Ex: behind the scenes photos, stories, tweet a link of music you were listening to, etc.
7. … But Don’t Give Out Too Many Spoilers
It’s sometimes hard to keep a good balance between adding to a show versus throwing spoilers into the ether. Keep in mind that because of time differences and DVRs, not everyone will be watching at the same time. The last thing you want to do is ruin the magic of a show by spoiling it with too many plot giveaways.
8. Pre-Schedule Tweets
If you’ve seen the show before, time your tweets down to the minute by using a third-party platform. This will free up more time to focus on other topics or simply responding to fans.
9. Get a Feel for the Culture
If you have no idea who you are tweeting for, how are you going to really connect with a crowd? Research ahead of time and look at other themes that are being discussed within the context of your show or theme. If animated gifs are popular, you will probably do well by tweeting or blogging your favorites.
10. Use Analytic Tools to Track Progress
By studying peaks and valleys during tweeting vs commercial breaks, you’ll start to see patterns which can help improve your Live-tweeting tactics. This includes making your own bit.ly account and shortening every link to tracking your progress through a third party app such as Trendrr.tv or Sysomos.
These suggestions should help make the Live-tweeting process run more smoothly, and hopefully intuitively!
Elspeth Rountree is a consultant for a variety of multi-national companies which include BBC America and previously the Travel Channel, focusing on social television strategy and is also a contributor for the Social Media Week Global Editorial Team- both based in New York, NY.