How to Harness TV’s New Engagement Cycle 900 words · 5 minute read

No longer is live TV confined to the living room.

Television has become a social event that spans touchpoints, mediums, and time – as long as the marketing of the show is flavored with a creative kick. A splash of music strategy in your social media might be the garnish your TV show needs to break out of the first screen and into the lives of your viewers.

According to a April 2015 Nielsen report, “Screen Wars,” the proper social media campaign can increase program awareness, make the experience more enjoyable for audiences, and keep viewers engaged – but with so many brands to follow, a TV show must find a unique way to stand out.

“It has never been more important to understand consumer behavior than in today’s rapidly evolving digital environment.”Megan Clarken, Executive Vice President, Nielsen Global Watch Product Leadership.

Megan continued with, “Choice creates not only complexity, but also opportunity. The media industry must embrace the changing landscape and adapt their strategies to fit with this new reality, offering engaging and relevant content that is easily accessible across devices and channels.”

“Most important is understanding how viewing patterns are shifting and determining the driving forces behind the change,” continued Clarken in the report. “While technology continues to evolve, so too are our habits as a direct result. Multi-tasking has taken on a whole new meaning as our digital devices enable us to connect in ways – and in places – we may never have thought possible.”

Hope you packed your headphones, Dorothy, ‘cuz we ain’t in Kansas no more.

According to Nielsen, 65 percent of global respondents still prefer to watch video programming live, at its regularly scheduled time, which is due in part to social media. Fifty-three percent of global correspondents say they like to keep up with shows so they can join the conversation on social media, and 49 percent say they watch live video programming more if it has a social media tie in. Forty-seven percent of global respondents say they engage with social media while watching video programming.

Viewers want to experience TV while they’re watching it. Interacting with other fans, researching background info on the characters, playing mobile games, watching behind-the-scenes interviews; these are all becoming common practices. And an often overlooked but consistently successful tool to engage with fans via social media is music.

Many music supervisors and television producers are aware of this trend, and they are leveraging music across ancillary touchpoints to further engagement with consumers during the program and even long after the show ends. Two forerunners of this model are music supervisors Chris Mollere of Fusion Music Supervision and Jonathan Christiansen of Hit The Ground Running.

Shazam, Spotify, and SoundCloud

“The dangerous part about putting music in television shows and films is that we basically live in an era where there’s so much information going on,” said Mollere, who supervises the music of The Vampire Diaries, among others. “So, if people don’t have the information that they want immediately, they forget about it.”

Mollere has developed a relationship with mobile music app, Shazam, and works with them to ensure that each of the songs placed in his shows are uploaded, tagged, and easily discoverable. Additionally, immediately after each airing of The Vampire Diaries, Mollere posts on Twitter the names of every song and artist synced during the episode.

“It gets people excited about [the music]. They can have the information that they want to know right away, so they can go buy it,” said Mollere.

The power of immediate discovery is substantial, as demonstrated by Shazam. According to 2013 press, its services generate $300 million in music download sales annually and are responsible for one in every fourteen downloads.

“It’s a logical, easy way for a network/show to increase viewer engagement throughout the week, beyond just the 30-60 minutes their show is airing,” agreed Johnathan Christiansen, whose current roster of shows to supervise includes Power on Starz. “If someone Shazams [the song], and it’s on Spotify or on SoundCloud, that’s a real crossover. That’s a real opportunity to engage a viewer and create a potential real-life fan.”

For Power and each of the rest of his shows, Christiansen provides Spotify playlists that share all of the songs synced in the shows’ most recently aired episodes.

“It creates a social aspect of it. We update them weekly, so anyone who follows the playlist can see the week’s worth of music,” said Christiansen. “I think the greatest thing about Spotify […] is the ability to dive into back catalog. As soon as you hear one song, […] you can go back, go “Wow I love this artist,” and become a fan of the artists so quickly because it’s right at your fingertips. [It’s] that discovery factor.”

The second, third, and sometimes fourth screen is becoming a fundamental extension of the viewing experience. While multiple screens give viewers more options, they also give TV shows more ways to reach and engage with viewers. Well-designed experiences can not only make the viewing experience more enjoyable, but they maximize the time consumers spend interacting with them, too.

To maximize the impact of these ancillary touchpoints, shows need to act creatively with their social media campaigns. Viewers are already hunting the music from TV on their own. The shows just need to be the ones to press play.

By: Zach Miller, Music Dealers