Rowan Kerek Robertson was Head of Social Media at BBC Television. She is a social media & digital media consultant and producer/trainer. On December 3 she will give the masterclass ” Give TV programs a new life with social media ” at mediarte.
Can TV makers reach their target audience more easily thanks to social media? What is underestimated? Rowan: “Absolutely, but in some cases not. We all know that programs via social media can offer extra content and information to their audience. We are on social media worldwide en masse. If the content of a program is in the right place is online and it appeals to an audience with content they are interested in, then it will most likely score very well and reach new people.
Social media presents a great opportunity to reach new audiences; not just the people who already know your program. Program makers who really make good use of social media do not only see this as an opportunity to distribute even more content. They use it to listen to the feedback from their audience and fans. Social media is a great listening tool. Imagine knowing what your audience is thinking at every moment of your program. Well, social media actually gives you that type of information. In that area, TV makers still underestimate the power of a committed relationship with your audience. But we also know that we live in a saturated media world. Standing out on social media can therefore be extremely difficult. You need to have a smart strategy to launch the right content at the right time, so that you reach the right people and that they watch it. The opportunities are enormous, but at the same time, it is not getting any easier to be successful on social media as the social media world grows.
Will the importance of social media for TV makers increase in the coming years? What will be the biggest trends? Rowan: “For certain types of viewers, social media will become increasingly necessary. The younger and more digitally oriented your audience, the more important it is to offer great content on social media. This is because we notice that these target groups are becoming less and less linear. They use social media, among other things, to consume TV content. If a program focuses on developing individual relationships, those individuals will perceive that program as more relevant and it will be more “top of mind”, increasing the chance that they are going to watch the program is also much larger.
Should a social media strategy be developed for every TV show? Rowan: “I think pragmatically when it comes to social media and I know that wholeheartedly ‘yes!’ answering that question is difficult for smaller programs. One of the most difficult elements for program makers is that a social media producer is actually a job in itself but is often passed on to the TV makers themselves. You need time, expertise, and experience to create a good social media strategy – basically, that should be someone specific who gets fully involved in the overall production team and who gets the support, time, and resources to produce great social content and interact with the audience.
Do you have some favorite examples of successful social media campaigns? Rowan: “I like shows where they have used social media to enrich the program itself. Like BBC’s Digital Revolution from a few years ago, where they used ideas from the audience directly in the episodes that dealt with the changing nature of our digital environment. The production team used the ideas from the audience in combination with the material from the editorial team. Commitment to non-fiction often works very well. Like the recent bonus episode of “Death In Ice Valley” from the BBC World Service, you can use tools such as ‘iptv subscription’ to watch some series. The podcast series investigated a Norwegian unsolved murder from 1970. There was so much response from fans that they created a Facebook Group. After the end of the series, they created a special live episode that focused on questions from the fans and things that the fans had discovered for themselves. During the series, they had already posted a lot of content on social media, but by actively responding to their fans and letting their strategy evolve, they generated a lot of feedback. That’s the nice thing about social media, unlike making TV, you can work very flexibly.