When thinking about U.S. President Barack Obama’s election in 2008, many people link that historic victory to the power of the Internet.
Leveraging social media and many of the digital marketing tools at his disposal, Obama’s team was able to make all of the little things (friends connecting on Facebook, a tweet here and there on Twitter and micro-donations as low as five dollars from individuals online) add up to winning the oval office.
But it was Obama’s inauguration as president that will always be the most unique moment for me.
The ceremonies were carried live over CNN, who partnered with Facebook for the occasion. On the left-hand side of my computer screen was the TV feed, while on the right-hand side I could follow what friends and strangers around the world were saying about the inauguration.
Suddenly, this television event became social media. It was social in that we could all share our thoughts, comment on what others were feeling, and be truly “together” in a way that would have been impossible if these digital online platforms did not exist.
I remember thinking that it felt like everyone I knew was in the same room with me, when in fact, we were dispersed across multiple countries and time zones. We may have been by ourselves in our protein forms but we were experiencing the moment together in our byte-size forms.
TV is not getting more interactive. TV is getting more social.
While the media pundit talk is all about the growth of the Internet and the threat that poses to television, the statistics will tell you a very different story. People across all demographics and psychographics still love their TV. It’s how we interact with our TV that is continually evolving.
In 2008, we were chatting about the great TV moments that meant something to us on Facebook. In 2010, we’re using location-aware apps like GetGlue, Philo and Miso to check into our favourite TV shows (along with books, movies, video games and more), much like we would check in to our favourite restaurant on Foursquare.
As Mashable recently pointed out, the technology works particularly well for shows like Mad Men which, despite its modest ratings, has an almost religious fan following.
“Watching Mad Men is a shared experience, whether you’re at a viewing party or alone in your bedroom, simply because of the culture surrounding the show,” writes Jennifer Van Grove in her Mashable post. “That’s why passionate viewers, if they’re socially inclined, are the type of people who will no doubt run to Facebook and Twitter to share their anticipation and viewing experience with the world.”
From the viewers’ perspective, these platforms enable them to connect and share with their fellow fans in a simple and fun way. It allows them to chat about the show, it lets them feel like their voices are being heard, and that they are connected to others who are like-minded. Most importantly, it makes these fans more connected and loyal to the brand of the program.
Just think what AMC will now know about their most rabid Mad Men fans. They’ll know: where they live, how many people are with them, what they think of the show minute by minute, which characters strike the strongest chord, which commercials the fans liked the most, and on and on and on and on.
Checking in to television could become the next Nielsen for this medium that has grappled with true audience numbers, sentiment and analytics for decades.
Many marketers think that all brands must be a part of the social media conversation. These check-in platforms demonstrate that the primary strategy of a brand engaged in social media should be to empower members of its community to connect to one another because that, ultimately, connects them even closer to the brand.