How Media Companies are Learning from Social Conversation for 'Always-On' Engagement

  |  October 23, 2013   |  Comments

Viacom Entertainment Group's Shari Cleary talks social analytics and engagement in a fire-side chat with Pelin Thorogood at the recent Pivotcon event in New York City.

Media companies have never had it so good. Fans tell producers just what they like in TV programming from moment to moment with every Tweet, retweet, Facebook post and YouTube view.

Data literally streams at the speed of consumer preferences in real time. But how do you make sense of this 24/7, cross-platform conversation, given the profusion (and confusion) of audience data and social analytics tools?

Media companies, of course, need to know how programs are performing across a slew of success metrics so they can assess how (if!) social engagement drives both ad monetization and higher TV viewership.


That's why I was so excited to sit down with Shari Cleary, vice president of Strategic Insights and Research with Viacom Entertainment Group, at Pivotcon last week in New York City. This highly engaging conference brought together senior leaders of social initiatives worldwide. It also gave me the opportunity to conduct a live, streaming "fire-side chat" on the evolving role of social media in the media business with Shari, who also sits on the board of the Digital Analytics Association (DAA).

We all know there's a massive transformation going on in media, and social platforms have dramatically changed how we all engage with TV and digital programming. Social platforms offer the opportunity to radically change relationships with fans. And no one knows that better than Shari with her digital research and analytics team responsible for audience metrics delivered to all of Viacom's key stakeholders for Comedy Central Digital, Spike Digital and TVLand.

As Shari explained: "As an entertainment company we have so many opportunities to surprise and delight our fans with all the ways that we can provide content. We also have the opportunity to really listen to our fans, 24/7. What are they saying about last night's episodes or a favorite episode from another year?

"Today, fans can engage with brands, franchises and talent in between episodes and between seasons in real time, and we can listen. Those conversations are constantly going on in our online, social and mobile platforms, on fans' Facebook sites with friends, and the program apps that continuously provide new online content for shows."

I asked Shari to bring it alive for the Pivotcon audience by giving us a real example of how fans engage today. She used Comedy Central's, "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" to illustrate how fans get engaged in advance of a show by tweeting about guests who have been announced, then chatting on Twitter and Facebook during the airing of segments on TV. They can also catch full episodes using the app the next morning when going to work on the train. They can post online or on Facebook platforms after the show. Plus, there are the traditional Nielsen ratings.

"Social marketers and analysts need to make sure all the data is brought together in one place... you need that 360-degree view to understand the cross-platform story," she explained.

In our conversation, we looked back at our experiences a decade ago in web analytics, when it became apparent that high-level reach metrics like number of unique, online visitors didn't provide enough useable insight into consumer behavior. Likewise, high-level reach metrics for social media such as number of Facebook Likes or Twitter followers are less valuable than metrics reflecting engagement: people chatting about a show, retweets and percent of audience truly engaged with a Facebook page. We need to carry that knowledge gained from web analytics into social analytics.

Not surprisingly, segmentation holds the key to success. Social has the benefit of not just providing high-level reach/engagement metrics, but also offers a direct window into how individual fans feel about programming from tweets, posts and other comments. Since not all fans are created equal, it is important to identify the truly passionate ones early on, and build a rich relationship with them, Shari pointed out.

But none of this is easy, to say the least. The number of analytical tools to track social engagement now represents an embarrassment of riches, with some companies using upwards of 20 tools to track the increasing number of social platforms.

Yet what is really required to gain the full value of social as a kind of listening post--to achieve that 360-degree view Shari talks about--is to measure, aggregate and analyze data across all of these engagement platforms.

Media companies need to listen across all touch points, aggregate the data and make sense of it all, to decipher what truly engages audiences. As Shari says, this is an always-on conversation.

Bottom line, Shari and I agree on both the extraordinary value and challenge of using social analytics as a decision-support solution. Media companies serve two masters; they need to deliver advertising revenue, but they also need to build loyalty through social engagement. This is especially critical for new shows.

Deeper and continuous understanding of the fan base across all engagement platforms will give media companies the ability to deliver on both fronts. And that's good news both for media and their viewers.

ClickZ Live Chicago Join the Industry's Leading eCommerce & Direct Marketing Experts in Chicago
ClickZ Live Chicago (Nov 3-6) will deliver over 50 sessions across 4 days and 10 individual tracks, including Data-Driven Marketing, Social, Mobile, Display, Search and Email. Check out the full agenda and register by Friday, Oct 3 to take advantage of Early Bird Rates!


Pelin Thorogood

Pelin Thorogood, a new media marketing and analytics expert, is CEO and a board director of Anametrix, the first cloud-based, real-time marketing analytics platform. Her career as a high-tech innovator includes leading the go-to-market strategy as CMO of WebSideStory (acquired by Omniture/Adobe), extending Peregrine Systems' enterprise software business (acquired by HP) into web-based applications, and in the mid-1990s launching one of the very first mobile B2B applications. She was named one of the "20 Women to Watch" in sales lead management in 2011 and 2012. Pelin holds a B.S. in Operations Research, Masters in Engineering. and MBA degrees, all from Cornell University, where she also serves as Executive-in-Residence for the Johnson Graduate School of Management. Follow Pelin on Twitter @PelinT.

COMMENTSCommenting policy

comments powered by Disqus

Get the ClickZ Analytics newsletter delivered to you. Subscribe today!



Featured White Papers

IBM: Social Analytics - The Science Behind Social Media Marketing

IBM Social Analytics: The Science Behind Social Media Marketing
80% of internet users say they prefer to connect with brands via Facebook. 65% of social media users say they use it to learn more about brands, products and services. Learn about how to find more about customers' attitudes, preferences and buying habits from what they say on social media channels.

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising

An Introduction to Marketing Attribution: Selecting the Right Model for Search, Display & Social Advertising
If you're considering implementing a marketing attribution model to measure and optimize your programs, this paper is a great introduction. It also includes real-life tips from marketers who have successfully implemented attribution in their organizations.



    • Web Writer
      Web Writer (Money Map Press) - BaltimoreDo you have a passion for the markets and investing, and writing? Do you want to spend your days providing...
    • Web Production Specialist
      Web Production Specialist (Money Map Press) - BaltimoreMoney Map Press is looking for a self-starter to perform and oversee the production of daily...
    • Internet Marketing Campaign Manager
      Internet Marketing Campaign Manager (Straight North, LLC) - Downers GroveWe are looking for a talented Internet Marketing Campaign Manager...