Thursday, October 27, 2011

Social TV – Cultivating Engagement & Intermedia Strategies

These days, it seems like there’s a new “Next Big Thing” on the media front every few months.  In 2011, the idea of “Social TV” peaked, building upon an awareness that viewers were using social media and Twitter to comment on and discuss programs, and its potential to generate buzz about TV programs. 
   Fans using technology to find one another and share thoughts and comments with one another.  For example, there was a email-list for Star Trek Fans back in the 1980s, and the alt. section of Usenet newsgroups was home to hundreds, if not thousands, of program-focused locations for fans to share thoughts and materials.  With the rise of the Web, many of these groups ported over to websites.  It also contributed to an explosion of original fan fiction and fan art.  Social media and the rise of a variety of content-sharing sites (like YouTube) provided new mechanisms for sharing, and social media and microblogging sites (like Twitter) enabled new channels for sharing thoughts and comments.
   What is new in 2011 is the rise of mobile devices and the growth of multitasking during media uses.  People are increasing using a variety of connected digital devices when watching TV, enabling viewers to communicate in real time while watching programs.
  Another change in recent years is the growing recognition from TV program producers and programmers of the power of fan communities to generate interest in, and support for, programs.  Thus was born another buzzword for media producers – “engagement” – the idea that by fostering interest and interaction, they can turn at least some of the audience from mere viewers to an engaged and committed community of fans.  It’s a significant shift from viewing audiences as passive receptors for commercials attracted by programs, to an active and engaged fan audience for the program – one that will follow the program brand across media channels and outlets.   And the birth of a new buzzword – “intermedia strategy.”
  In this increasingly converged, competitive, connected media environment, media content is no longer limited to distribution on a single channel.  In this environment, content producers can utilize multiple distribution channels to distribute their content (programs).  Moreover, content producers can move from creating programs, to creating a content brand that can be used to create stories and content across media channels and platforms, and exploiting all the ways that value of content and programming can be extracted.
   Invoking an “intermedia strategy” means that content producers enable and support engagement with audience members across and between media channels, with content from one platform and source affecting content from the other, and across platforms.  It's a strategy and perspective that looks to take advantage of the opportunities presented by the new media environment, and more active and interested audiences who have increasing control over how, where, and when they access and consume media content.

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