Despite its margin over digital advertising spend waning to 5% within 3 years and its notorious aversion to attribution, tune-in remains the primary KPI for most television marketing. Utilizing the right kind of influence marketing, though, presents new opportunities for television marketers to drive tune-in by capitalizing on some of the very trends leading to the changing ad spend tide.
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One key driver for this shift is the rise of multitask-viewing. According to the Verizon report on Millenials & Entertainment, at least 65% of Millennials are using a second device while watching TV, with 75% of those users posting to Facebook or Twitter. Accordingly, the benefits of digital advertising for Tune-in on both platforms are many.
Additionally, we can see clearly the correlation between social media engagement and Nielsen ratings in a study by ShareThis. Most importantly, we learn that social media users who click on a shared link are 2.4x more likely to become viewers of a new show than those who didn’t click.
Finally, According to the 2015 NATPE/CEA joint research study on TV consumer habits, the role of word-of-mouth (WOM) recommendations in TV viewing is only growing: Millennials and Gen-X’ers now rely 78% on WOM recommendations for discovering and deciding what to watch, leaving WOM as the major driver in decision making when users choose new shows to watch.
For these reasons and more, the key to driving tune-in through social media could be working with everyday influencers: in this case, passionate fans driving high levels of topic specific engagement in their own social circles. But how do you identify, partner, incentivize, and measure working with them?
As Mavrck addresses these challenges with our own customers, based on the available data, case studies, and analogs, we’ve come up with these 10 Tips for Driving Tune-in with Social Influencers, to help guide your influencer tune-in campaigns.
Tip #1: Start with the foundation.
According to top political operative Mitch Stewart, the key to multiplying campaign efforts at scale is the lowest level of the pyramid: “the bigger this foundation is, the bigger everything else will be on top of it.” So to drive people to take action on tuning-in, we’ll start with a large force of everyday influencers, and build WOM on that foundation.
Lesson: Not all fans are influencers, but the more influencers you start with, the more fans and potential fans you’ll influence.
Tip #2: Build out the base.
Is this a returning show, or a new one? If new, skip down to 3. If it’s returning, let’s look at what helped turn Scandal and Breaking Bad into hits.
Scandal debuted to unimpressive numbers, but as show-runner Shonda Rhimes masterfully connected with her audience via twitter, viewership responded. The trend was significant enough that ABC openly recruited new fans on twitter for the show’s season 3 premiere. The result? 24% more tweets and a 13% bump from its top ratings to that date.
— Scandal (@ScandalABC) August 20, 2013
Breaking Bad developed slowly into a mainstream hit, accruing live viewers gradually fresh off of streaming binges. Its season 4 finale attracted a paltry 1.9 million viewers, but season 5 saw 10.3 million tune in, an unbelievable 442% increase over 2 years. Vince Gilligan famously credited Netflix with saving the show. Have your influencers tag their friends most likely to be fans of the show, then challenge them to catch up at a designated binge time. Then, repeat the process with your new fans. You may even start training the fanbase for tune-in, by timing influencer activations at air time. Lesson: Work with your influencers to recruit their friends most likely to be fans, promote catch-up binges, and then recruit their friends for the next season premiere.
Tip #3: Set the stage.
Because only 59% of TV is watched live, influencers sharing about watching your show live is substantial WOM validation. Work with your influencer army to let their friends know they tune-in. Establish what’s happening at air time not as an activity individuals undertake simultaneously, but as an experience the audience is sharing collectively. Lesson: Your influencers sharing that they care to watch live validates both the show and the value of the experience that is doing so.
Tip #4: During air time – Know your audience.
What’s your show’s genre? According to the data from ShareThis, there’s a steep divide between social engagement along genre lines:
- Reality, variety, and music programming shows demonstrably higher mid-show engagement, likely due to more interactive formats.
- For dramas, only 8.3% of viewers were engaging during tune-in hours vs. 34.5% after, so score with post airtime content. Select dramas (Empire, Game of Thrones, etc.) do experience spikes in social engagement during significant plot events, so catch the wave if you see it.
Lesson: Time your content according to when your audience is more likely to share.
Tip #5: Plug those Hashtags.
According to research from RadiumOne, over 70% of consumers are motivated to explore new content when hashtags are present. From Shorty Award winning interactive campaigns to posting branded twitter avatars to pair with your content, unique hashtags leverage the immediacy of social media to promote a living broadcast as a shared experience. Lesson: Hashtags motivate consumers to explore and experience new programming communally.
Tip #6: Value partnerships.
Your influencers’ values matter in their partnerships with you, so work with the grain. According to the Verizon report, Millennials are loyal to brands that are aligned with their own morals and values. Take the SkinnyGirl Cocktails Shorty Award winning Oscars campaign: teaming with Dress for Success and E! Entertainment on an interactive donation drive yielded 5 million impressions and 1,000+ mentions over the broadcast. That night’s ratings? The most-watched entertainment telecast in 3 years. Lesson: You win more hearts and minds when your audience identifies with your values.
Tip #7: Leverage your talent!
Back to Shonda Rhimes of Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy fame. Shonda has leveraged twitter so deftly that ABC’s primetime Thursday night lineup, featuring exclusively her programs, has its’ own #TGIT hashtag, a callback to the TGIF days for a development “unmatched in TV history”. Taking her lead, many of her cast members have adopted highly accessible twitter presences as well, and the show has featured live streaming publicity events. Many other shows have begun lending their talent to AMA’s, promoting their accessibility on twitter, and more. Lesson: Working with your talent to be accessible during tune-in hours helps drive more engagement, which leads more tune-in.
Tip #8: Post-op content.
What was the funniest line of the episode? Was there a shocking event? Did a character do something unexpected? After the show, share content that highlights the key moments to catalyze water cooler conversation the next day. Your influencers should statistically be the trend setters for that conversation, so give them a place to start. Lesson: The episode is over but audiences will continue to talk. Seize the day.
Tip #9: Mid-week content.
Mid-week between episodes, share content that keeps the show fresh on fans’ minds. A good bet is user generated content like reviews, analysis or thought pieces by a third party. This is also a great place to nudge fans who’ve missed an episode towards streaming to catch up, reminding them not to fall behind.
— Katie Stanford (@katiestanford16) April 25, 2015
— The Americans (@TheAmericansFX) April 24, 2015
Lesson: Featuring your fans’ and third parties’ content mid week kills multiple birds while keeping your content fresh on your fans’ minds.
Tip #10: Embrace digital.
While our list of tips for leveraging social influencers to drive tune-in must end at Tip #10, we’ve barely scratched the surface—there’s still the ease of attribution for tune-in lift, valuable demographic data, new reach opportunities through your influencers’ network—but more importantly, the digital footsteps of your influencers provide demonstrable return on your marketing investments. We understand industry standard KPI’s can be limiting on your efforts, but remember (and remind your executives) that advertising dollars are heading over to digital. Get ahead of the competition while you can.
Lesson: Social engagement correlates with tune-in, and social influencers are the way to drive that conversation. Embrace the digital mediums they’re on. Interested in influence marketing automation? Identify, activate, and engage your most influential fans to drive meaningful results. Request a demo today!
Dots remain to be connected in the tune-in puzzle. So as we continue to tease out the most important gems from that data, we’ll update our take. Ultimately embracing digital streaming will provide the greatest clarity for marketers. But for now, if social engagement is driving tune-in, and WOM is driving new show adoption, social influencers are the way to drive that conversation. But only you know how to best apply it to your programs.
In a continuing effort to help brands and businesses both understand and leverage the value of their influencers, we will feature more industry-specific posts like this one. Today’s insights were provided by Joey Fiore, Mavrck’s account executive whose background involves data analysis for Netflix and whose future is Hollywood.