An astonishing 83% of viewers surf the web while watching television, revealed Jo Booth at an RTS North West event at Media City, Salford in early February.
The director of TV social media outfit SMMS added that half of viewers also look up the hashtag of a show to see what people are saying.
At an entertaining and informative masterclass, Booth argued that it makes sense to use social media to engage with audiences. “Social media is transforming the way people experience TV,” she said. “They’re using it to decide what to watch.”
Social media platforms provide programme-makers with a “free or very low cost” way of “providing two-way communication with international reach, opening companies up to a global market”, she said. They “deliver audience numbers, increasing votes, say, at the National Television Awards, making recommissions more likely”.
Focusing on Facebook, which has more than 1.8 billion users, Twitter (300 million-plus monthly users) and Instagram, Booth explained how to create a social media marketing strategy.
Facebook users are social networkers, looking for escapism, she claimed, so “promote drama, rather than hard-hitting documentary”.
Live tweeting during a programme’s transmission works well, but the social media expert advised keeping tweets brief. “Scrolling down a timeline is the equivalent of driving past a billboard at 60mph,” she said. To make an impact, “use between 71 and 100 characters”.
Visuals work well. She recommended using Instagram’s efficient editing tools to post good quality stills and up to one minute of video, but warned of over-doing hashtags, which can look unprofessional.
“Start the conversation. Find fans. Talk to people,” Booth continued. “If you’re making a documentary about birds, find people who are interested in birds. Tell them about your show.”
“Be present for at least four weeks before TX” and, having built that audience, “keep going during TX and for at least four weeks post-TX”.
Time posts appropriately, she advised. Cbeebies grown-ups will be working or doing the school run at 9:00am. Reach them “after 8:00pm when they’re relaxing on social media with a glass of wine”.
“Keep the fan base engaged during and between each series by offering rewards,” she said. Such rewards needn’t be costly: “Retweeting a viewer’s tweet can make that person’s day.” Other methods include posting fan art and offering fan groups exclusive content.