I spent yesterday at NATPE’s LATV Festival enjoying some interesting discussions and presentations from the Digital Day. This report is a synopsis of one of those sessions. This session focused on social media and how digital media executives are using it to their advantage.
Ben Grossman, Editor in Chief, for Broadcasting & Cable led this panel discussion.
Danny Kastner is founder of Fan Rocket. Fan Rocket provides services to media companies that help promote media via viral videos.
Stephen Andrade is General Manager of NBC.com with a mission to promote TV shows, provide online advertising opportunities and create content for NBC.com. He shows a clip of what he calls creative social media that shows how The Office’s Dunder Mifflin Infinity website provides tools for fans to build content. The goal was to create a really deep community for fans of the show. The site presents creative tasks to “branches”( user groups) each week.
David Glover is CEO of Or Die Networks. The company is a online creative company that partners with celebrities to build new shows, such as Funny Or Die, and combines that with user generated content and social network tools to build community. He views it as a pyramid of content with the celebrity partner at the top, advanced users producing high quality content and then the mass user generated content.
EriK Flannigan, EVP of Digital Media at MTV Networks, runs Comedy Central and a few other sites. He says that consumers will form groups with or without you, so you need to decide if you want to participate. MTV is trying to embrace the social web using things like the Facebook activity feed.
How does an aspiring producer play in this? Stephen says that it’s important to understand the economics first. He says there are no barriers to entry so it doesn’t make a great area for investment. It doesn’t work to make things with TV type budgets. TV is a hit business where 1 hit can pay for 10 failures. On the web, there is a much lower cost of failure and therefore many more people trying.
Erik says that the industry has come a long way in the past few years understanding how users want to and will mash up content. The biggest stumbling block is letting go and letting users make their own choices. You don’t really have much choice because you can’t control what happens. He says you occasionally get into trouble with copyright issues, but you keep on going.
Dick says he met last week with one of the premier writer producers in comedy television. They were working on a concept and the writer said it would only work if there were no comments allowed. Dick says they walked away. You can’t fight reality.
Dick says they have less issue with copyright problems because their content is short and some what self contained.
Danny says this is really an area of opportunity as TV shows start hiring people dedicated to making extra content and making it viral. Stephen calls it a writer producer in training role, where when they go on to write/produce TV shows they will get the online side of this. Erik and Dick concur saying that new jobs are being created to re-purpose existing content for the digital space and new marketing jobs are requiring digital experience.
Does every new show need a social component as well as a digital component? Stephen says he’s not sure what “digital” means. He says it probably means both, but it really depends on the content.
Erik says that the social component depends upon the show. He describes the difference between The Daily Show and The Colbert Show. One is about presenting content, the other is really social.
The panel had some interesting advice to people in the audience who are interested in the space. In short, think beyond video. Erik pointed to an example on the Huffington Post that was an interactive view of how a conservative views the NY Times. Stephen concurred saying they want interactive ideas beyond video because they can really drive page views. Dick closes by saying think about what the technology can do, and video is just one of the things the technology can do.