Social Media As Virtual Focus Group

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There was a time when advertising and marketing agencies spent lots of money and time gathering and then surveying “average Americans” to test their new ads, TV shows or corporate training programs. Today, with the growth of the Internet, these same content creators have replaced those exhaustive efforts by “trolling” the various social media platforms; and they’re getting better results, virtually for free.

Today’s TV programmers and corporate video producers are using blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other virtual gathering places to learn what resonates (“trends”) and what doesn’t when it comes to new ideas and concepts. Not only is this helping TV producers understand their audience better and improve their shows (and making viewers aware of new shows, sometimes before they air), but IT professionals are finding that using a “second screen” for promotion actually increases viewers’ enjoyment and/or engagement of those shows.

In a recent study, Nielsen conducted a year-over-year comparison and found that 25 percent of TV viewers reported higher awareness of TV programs due to social media. Also: in 2013, 15 percent of viewers said they enjoyed watching television more when social media was involved; 11 percent said they watched more live TV, and 12 percent said they recorded more programs in 2013.

Additional data from Nielsen’s first-quarter 2014 Cross Platform Report shows that the average adult aged 18 and over now watches more than five hours of live TV and 34 minutes of time-shifted TV per day. As a result, explains Nielsen, “the social TV phenomenon is not only affecting the consumer TV experience and program development but also proving to be a valuable opportunity for advertisers to tap into and leverage the momentum of social conversations.”

Content producers of all types would be wise to leverage this free, wide-ranging, geographically disperse “focus group” when developing video programs, whether for entertainment or educational purposes. Start the conversation online—among your viewers or employees—and see what happens.

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