Over the last few weeks I have been doing a great deal of listening and generally observing the space we have come to know as social media. There have been a great number of conferences in the first quarter of 2012 dedicated to second screen and digital media. The first event I attended this year that was actually specifically for social media was the SMWF (Social Media World Forum) at Olympia, London.
Following the SMWF, I realised that although the paradigm of television may have changed (long form narrative based audio visual entertainment consumed anywhere, is what it is today), the value for entertainment providers and those within the supply chain is greatly enhanced by social media. Clearly this is not a new insight. We are seeing huge amounts of money invested in social TV and second screen. The real insight in my view is that you cannot really access the seam of gold that investors have their eyes on by just one or two pieces of the ecosystem.
Take the very new start up called Smiial (http://smiial.com/). They have created a technology platform that enables social media campaigns across all major platforms with the added ability to incorporate video clips. Remarkably, they have managed to hook in around 750,000 fans for the coming release of a new film called Ecstacy. (I understand it is a cult type film in the vein of Trainspotting) These numbers are all way before film release date. The system essentially grows through fans “liking” something and being rewarded with Smiial credits. The campaign of course continues and grows, post release also.
Then there are companies like 77agency. They have come up with special kiosk style social “portals” that are positioned at live events or at retail stores, called The Social Machine. It is based on RFID cards (perhaps surprisingly) and users first register their cards in their Facebook accounts when they receive them from the company running the campaign.
Once registered, when they get to the store or event, they hold their card to the kiosk reader and it updates Facebook. In the example I saw, users would use the card to get their Nespresso coffee. As a component of the overall ecosystem, I do see this as an interesting concept. See the video at http://youtu.be/MJ-7hOL9NQE
Then there are the companies like Social Viper (http://socialviper.com/) who leverage existing social media to improve client return on investment.
Finally I should mention Meltwater Buzz (http://buzz.meltwater.com/) who are in the business of pulling all of your relevant social media activity into a single easy to manage portal. There are one or two other businesses out there, but what struck me about Meltwater was their pedigree and their spread. They seem to have been quietly building their position internationally over the last few years and have a great product and team of people. Their “buzz” product line includes all kinds of data including a clever take on measurement of sentiment that is coming through social media. They also have an engage module to enable direct contact with target groups.
So, to come back to my original point, having a social TV strategy, or enabling a second screen capability to view or download your movie of course creates some value generating opportunity. But if you really want to hit the big revenue streams, I think you need to be sitting down and considering your target audiences whole world. This includes their shopping and eating habits, the events they go to and of course, the media they like to consume. Through all of these touch points (and probably a few more key ones) a strategy can be built to begin to converse with them. Finally, through aggregation of all of the touch point data streams, you can then review and engage with that audience in a way that was truly never before possible.