What does it take to be a social TV powerhouse? Just ask our friends at Bravo and USA Network, both named big winners at last week’s Social TV Awards. Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen took home the Social TV Entertainer of the Year Award, while the team at USA Network picked up hardware for Best Cable Network. Jesse Redniss, SVP of Digital at USA Network, was named Social TV Marketer of the Year.
We’re fortunate to work with both brands on their social marketing efforts, and have seen first hand what the networks are doing right as television evolves in the Digital Age. Here are some of the reasons why Bravo and USA Network are leading the social TV movement.
Bravo: As host of Bravo’s hit live talk show and EVP of Development & Talent at the network, Andy Cohen has created the prototype for social television – and this mindset extends to everything Bravo puts on the airwaves.
1. VIEWER INTERACTION: Because WWHL is broadcast live, the show brings viewers into the conversation by inviting questions via Facebook and Twitter and granting them the ability to talk to celebrity guests live on-air. Cohen fields questions from viewers as they come in, making for a truly fun and off-the-cuff viewing experience.
2. SOCIAL TO THE SOUL: Beyond his on-air stint, Cohen is very active across Facebook, Twitter and WhoSay – giving Bravo fans a behind-the-scenes glance at the inner workings of the network. Cohen even has inside jokes with fans: those who follow him on Twitter know he has an affinity for taxicab drivers and gives morning reviews of their looks, demeanor and chosen routes (with which he often disagrees). Zany? Sure. Intriguing? For an exec of his stature, definitely.
3. EMMY-WINNING: Cohen has also seen much success behind-the-scenes as EVP of Development and Talent at Bravo. In addition to record ratings gains each quarter, the network has won multiple Emmy Awards for series Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and Top Chef, the latter of which earned Cohen an Emmy for Executive Producer of Outstanding Competitive Reality Series.
USA Network: Putting fans in the front row is key to USA Network’s success – and they’re using the power of social to give viewers unprecedented access to their favorite shows.
4. CHARACTERS WELCOME: USA Network has set itself apart due to its social activations within its fan base. Their shows, the network, majority of the cast and even in-world characters, like @PsychAgency and @KingoftheHawks, are all active on Facebook and Twitter, allowing a stronger connection with the fans. The rabid base is such an integral part to the network, it invited over 100 of its “super fans” to attend their Upfront presentation earlier this year and tweet coverage from event.
From there, conversation was pulled into the network’s social platform Character Chatter and the fan’s excitement helped make #USAUpfront a trending topic twice during Upfront Week. This enhanced awareness helped USA Network before it launched its busiest summer season to date and a critical time of year. The network also maintains profiles on GetGlue, Viggle and Miso, using these social check-in communities to help spread awareness, give perks to their loyal fan base and offer first looks at upcoming programming.
5. TRANSMEDIA STORYTELLING: USA Network’s digital teams are continuously developing new programs for fans to engage with and have looked to second screen storytelling to help further engagement. What makes the network’s transmedia concepts so appealing is that they utilize native platforms and tell stories in real-time.
In 2012, USA Network received an Emmy nomination for Psych’s Hashtag Killer, which was a fully interactive parallel storyline that ran throughout Season 6. It garnered nearly 90 million impressions throughout the game and helped connect the fans with their favorite characters outside of weekly hour-long episodes.
6. SOCIAL STARS & EXECS: While it’s not news for TV networks to have their executives and actors on Twitter, USA Network’s senior-level management go above and beyond with their communications to fans on the platform. Ted Linhart, the SVP of Research, engages with fans, runs contests and hosts Q&A sessions to help give a glimpse of what really happens behind the scenes of the network.
Similarly, USA Network stars like Psych’s Dule Hill and SUITS’ Patrick J. Adams maintain various social profiles to help them engage with the fans, give them behinds the scenes sneak peeks at upcoming seasons and encourage communication between fan bases to foster the relationship between USA and its fan base.
The common thread between Bravo and USA Network’s success has been their social-to-the-core approach across both promotions and personalities and their mission to build community instead of one-off viewership. These strategies have been critical to building a passionate and devoted viewer base that’s eager to engage. Congratulations again to our clients at Bravo and USA Network!
– Steven Avalos and Danielle Johnsen Karr