Perspective | 'Live Tweets' a new media tool to engage audiences...is it?
In the media industry experimentation and keeping up with trends is an ongoing process. The industry is evolving with the changing times and traditional media has been replaced with new media popularly referred to as digital and social which is an emerging trend in the industry. Advertising and promotion of any product, brand, television show or film through traditional media vehicles such as print, television, radio and outdoors is now a thing of the past. Now social media and Twitter especially has become an essential part of entertainment. Television shows, movies, music concerts and live events are augmented by the “second-screen” experience. Now instead of passively watching your favorite TV show, you can join like minded people in a conversation, commentary or relevant discussion. Be it online video consumption on Youtube or content consumption on Facebook and Twitter it is evident that, digital as a new medium holds tremendous potential.
As part of a recent trend, Indian television broadcasters have started using Live Tweets to engage their audience and it has certainly grabbed their attention. So, what are ‘Live Tweets’? It’s basically a module to engage audience on Twitter for a continuous period of time, ranging anywhere from 20 minutes to a few hours—with a sequence of focused Tweets. The focus may be a TV show or a big live event such as an award show or even a Q&A session between a celebrity and his/her fans which has complete audience involvement.
It’s been a while now since our Indian broadcast channels like Star Plus, Life OK, Zee, Sony, Colors, MTV and others have been actively utilizing this tool to engage with their audiences. But what is the reason behind using this social media tool so passionately? Is it the reach, audience engagement, promotion or any other reason.
In order to understand the broadcasters connect with the social media tool ‘Live Tweets’ and what kind of future they see in live tweeting going forward and to learn more about the kind of content which works well for this medium- fiction, non –fiction, reality shows or movie marketing, Adgully spoke to experts from the media industry. Nikhil Madhok, Vice President - Marketing, Star Plus, Neeraj Vyas, Executive Vice President & Business Head Sony MAX & Sony MIX, Vivek Shrivastava, Digital Head, Colors and Ekalavya Bhattacharya, Head of Digital, MTV India shared their respective views on the same.
Madhok shared his views on the future of live tweeting going forward and how effectively this tool has been used in their strategy. He said, “We at Star Plus our quite proud that we introduced this method with Twitter at the beginning of this year. Star Plus was the first Indian channel in entertainment genre to make this move. We started off with our show Nach Baliye’s Grand Finale where prior to engaging in live tweeting we were linked to Twitter only and then for the first time we were not limited to just twitter handle but we created a multi-media channel. We ran several contests and joint conversations with the usage of print and television ads and Twitter.”
“By producing content for our digital assets such as Twitter, the reach of the activities has expanded many folds. For e.g. Nach Baliye Finale generated one billion impressions and became the no. 1 show on Twitter which made a mark worldwide,” added Madhok.
Vyas too spoke about the digital front and how it has made commendable progress at Sony Max. He said, “At Max we are actively focusing on the digital front and with our strategy of live tweeting for the Bollywood movie Jab Tak Hai Jaan, we received more than 2500 live tweets during the movie airing which happened for the first time for a movie channel.”
Whereas Shrivastava opined, “Live tweeting for shows enhances the second screen experience. Our strategy on live tweeting for programs is to start and channelize conversations. Fans of our content are eager to express their views on social media platforms such as Twitter. While watching a show if audiences have liked a particular moment, they may tweet a picture or a comment and it is an ideal and the right hook to talk, share or comment on these moments. Moreover they do not have to search or create them.”
Bhattacharya adding his input on the subject under discussion said, “I think Twitter is a great method to connect with viewers as MTV has 850 thousand followers on Twitter and in the youth space in India we are the highest. Apart from live tweeting we at MTV also have ticker. With Twitter we did MTV Ticker Jockey Hunt, which was the first reality hunt on Twitter in India. Our tweets are shown directly on TV through a ticker during shows. So we use both Twitter to TV and TV to Twitter which gives the channel a sense of live interactivity.”
The different channels that have used live tweeting tool for their shows and events are Star Plus for Nach Baliye, and IDS , Sony for premier of films such as Jab Tak Hai Jaan and Ek Thi Dayan, MTV India for shows like Drive with MTV, Splitsvilla, Roadies, VMAI awards and Time Out with Imam and Colors for Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, Madhubala and others.
Madhok also went on to say, “Going forward this tool of live tweeting is going to get increasingly important as viewers are keen to build communities with the show they are fond of. Viewing and then commenting on social media platforms with the help of Tablets and Smartphones has become really important as it helps in building slight engagement with the channel and with the show. With today’s younger generation we can see a whole new level of engagement and the trend of live tweeting is going to increase.”
Bhattacharya agreeing with Madhok explained, “We do live tweets for our shows for on air engagement. With Facebook and Twitter we are not just engaging our viewers but also giving them an opportunity to participate in shows like Drive with MTV, Splitsvilla and others. Where television shows are concerned it’s a great tool to engage with fans. But as most of the brands are engaging audience on Twitter via contests, today Twitter has contest fatigue which might not work for brands a few months down the line.”
“We are presently working on the digital space for Aashiqui 2 and on several activities on the digital front viz. Twitter and Facebook and with time intend to strengthen it. There is loads to do in the digital space where Hindi films are concerned,” shared Vyas.
When asked what kind of content would work well on this medium- fiction shows, non-fiction shows, reality shows, movie marketing Shrivastava said, “It’s not so much about fiction or non-fiction as much as it is about the right hooks, so a property like Jhalak or Madhubala will always have much more to be talked about than regular shows as the content lends itself naturally to the storyline. Likewise typically not much is heard about comedy genre but ‘Comedy nights with Kapil’ has created a tremendous buzz.”
Bhattacharya voicing his opinion added, “More than the show, it also depends upon the characters and actors who are associated with a certain show. For e.g. Imam Siddique became popular with Big Boss and now with his show he is presenting himself as a totally different character. Hence a character like Imam who makes audiences emote will opt for a show that has live tweeting. You should have characters in your shows who people would want to follow. Be it shows or movie marketing, they are all contest driven. Engaging audiences through live contests on Twitter really works well.”
Given the fact that it is content diagnostic, most television channels have tried live tweeting with movies, awards functions and non –fiction shows. The reason why it works better for them is that they have something new happening and this creates curiosity in the viewers. “With regard to fiction shows it is possible when appropriate opportunities arise as we did on our show Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai, when Akshara was about to give birth to her child. We ran out a contest where people had to suggest a name for the baby. It lends better conversation at a high point or when dealing with a romantic angle in a fictional show,” said Madhok.
“Our promotional hooks differ from property to property as also the lifecycle of the brand. We created a handle @mrspammilicious, for our new comedy fiction Mrs Pammi Pyarelal because we wanted to establish the lead character in a show. For an event we would give out exclusives. A case in point is being that for a property like Jhalak which is into its second season on Colors we did #jhalakisback moments, dance styles, contestant profiling etc.” informed Shrivastava.
The various inputs from the industry experts has helped us to gain an understanding of the notion behind using “Live Tweets’, and we can say it is certainly an easy and flexible way to reach out and build engagement with your audience through Twitter. But it will be interesting to see how this new tool will help broadcasters to innovate and distinguish themselves in the competition given the fact that all of them are on the same platform using similar strategies to engage audiences, while audiences on the other hand are always on a continuous lookout for new mediums and platforms to engage with .