Posts Tagged ‘social media’
With the entry of Netflix, Amazon and Apple into the content provision business, traditional and even satellite broadcasters can be forgiven for looking somwhat uneasily over their shoulders. These intruders are not to be ignored, they are serious players with serious infrastructure and marketing nous behind them.
The business of broadcasting, be it public service or commercial is relatively straightforward. Commission content, broadcast content, listen to audience, start again. This applies whether the broadcaster is in the business of creating original content or buying in existing content. In terms of revenue streams, advertising, syndication, format rights all follow from a successful program. Budgets we hear are shrinking, this is because advertising revenues are shrinking. Furthermore, the diversity of platforms including download and catch up TV militate against the viewer actually watching live TV. Ever wondered why there is so much sport, so many reality shows, so much fake jeopardy in modern broadcast TV? It’s to keep you watching until the next ad break – “who’s been voted off?”, “Will they bake the cake in time?”, “Who’s winning?”
So is traditional broadcasting a total anachronism? Should they just pack up their valves and transmitters and shuffle off into the distance? Well, no. Let’s examine that basic business model for a second and see if it is still relevant. Content still has to be obtained, so we can tick that box. Strike broadcast and substitute the word “Delivery” – more appropriate considering the number of channels and platforms available these days. Listen to the audience? There’s an idea. The traditional broadcaster’s method of retrieving audience feedback is via focus groups and reviews, surely an anachronism in what should now be a global industry. The focus group method takes weeks to deliver any coherent finding. Weeks in which the real audience may be rising or falling. In this day and age we can provide feedback in the form of statistical analysis to the commissioning process even to the program makers much more quickly.
The new content providers are looking at social software as a means of analysing response. Recommendation engines are key to streaming and download providers like Amazon and Netflix. Experiments have even been carried out in the UK with real time twitter feeds being made available to presenters. This I suspect will be a temporary phase – there are much more interesting uses of Twitter than amplifying sentiment into some kind of infernal feedback loop. Social software is also incredibly noisy in that it encourages people to vent. Furthermore, the more enlightened producers are beginning to realise that social software is a good means of promoting content. All of this noise needs to be filtered if meaningful data is to be extracted, but I can’t imagine a broadcaster answering the question “Would you like to know what people are saying about your show?” with a negative. Can you?
Analytics tools nowadays are more than capable of trawling social software sites and converting that unstructured data into something that can be analysed. In fact a company, Trendrr.TV has been set up in the US to provide precisely this function. This stuff is no longer being talked about behind closed doors in the industry – it’s in the public domain now. And its powerful stuff. Imagine the implications of being able to demonstrate that viewing patterns match a profile that says – “This show is going to be a slow burning hit” – and this is where I think analytics will really make a difference. Commissioners need all the help they can get in times like this – the person who is prepared to hang on in there with a series that appears to be bumping along the bottom of the audience ratings is a person with a private income or a death wish! I’d like to see more risks being taken and I think analytics have a part to play in augmenting the creative business of commissioning content. TV was once a medium that entertained, challenged and educated in more or less equal measure. Is that still the case?
The broadcaster of today could be looking at finessing that feedback mechanism between delivery and commission. Get this right, and the switched on broadcaster will be able to accurately predict audience behaviour and therefore advertising potential, will be able to assess the popularity of characters in the shows, study reaction to plotlines and subtly calibrate content accordingly. Internet time, as has been famously observed is a lot quicker than real time. Broadcast time it seems is a lot slower. There’s the gap that traditional broadcasters must fill if they are to fend off the challenge from Silicon Valley.
It’s hard after three days of the worst and most pointless rioting the UK has ever suffered, to put words together that don’t sound like cliches. I guess in part its because I used to live in London, only a few hundred yards away from where the violence erupted in Enfield and I know people who still live in London, in Tottenham and Wood Green where the worst of the violence was experienced. I feel guilty that I was powerless to help and ashamed that they had to suffer this awful ordeal. It must have been terrifying. I am only glad that my friends have come through unscathed.
Let’s not fool ourselves, these riots were not, unlike the student riots earlier this year, motivated by politics. They were not race riots, They were not the riots of protest in any sense whatsoever. This was society turning on itself. Looters robbing local stores, putting local people out of business. Wrecking lives, destroying confidence, ushering in a lawlessness and a new age of stupidity, selfishness, greed and cowardice. Let David Cameron talk about the “Big Society”.
The violence we have seen was, and continues to be perpetrated by a section of society that the government has made pay, in terms of jobs, cuts to services, cuts to immigration, for the disaster that was visited upon the west by the institutionalised greed of the financial sector. We have seen corporate greed in the shape of the News of the World obfuscate, avoid and misdirect a government enquiry, knowing that they would not be recalled. It sends a message. James Murdoch, immaculately groomed, fluent in corporatese, giving evidence that so far two of the sacked NoTW employees have denounced as ‘mistaken’ sends an unmistakeable message. And that message, received on the streets of Tottenham is “Fuck You”.
We read about the mysterious workings of the Chipping Norton set that apparently control the government, creeping in by the back door to Downing Street and know that their lifestyles, of shopping in Venice, Hunting, Polo and Governing small European countries, is not for us. The message again, received on the streets of Tottenham is “Fuck You”.
We have suffered in Cameron and Osborne, leaders so utterly lacking in empathy that Cameron considers it more important to massage his ego by having his photograph taken, tipping an Italian waitress this weekend instead of cancelling his holiday and flying back to London to witness first hand the destruction his “Big Society” has visited upon the country he aspires to govern.
We have also seen the incredible amplification that social media can achieve. Sadly, initially by facilitating the carnage, but latterly by providing a channel to organise the clean up Hackney campaign.
I’m through writing about this. Others will do it much better and more eloquently. I’m ashamed to be english today and that I think is a feeling a lot of english people share.
A lot of talk recently about using Social Software to increase ones visibility. This is a positive step forward from the amusing stories about people being sacked for injudicious observations about their employers, or in a twist on the old story about being snapped participating in a riot while supposedly ill in bed, posting observations about the quality of their hangover…whilst pulling a sickie. So, this is a development, and the thinking behind it is very closely linked to the art of public relations.
We are to the world, the sum of what we make available for others to consume. We are judged by our words and our actions. In this new world of social software, whether we like it or not, that amounts to a hell of a lot of personal data and believe it or not, we can alienate people just as easily online as we can in the flesh! It is a two way street.
Let me explain – on a course recently I was asked, as part of my introduction to name one thing about my colleagues that I found profoundly irritating. The course was called ‘How to make lifelong enemies out of potential friends’ or something similar. I wracked my brains for a non controversial answer, but eventually, after dismissing the possibility of ‘brown shoes’ and ‘golfing trousers’ (well, actually I find everything about golf profoundly irritating from it’s accessories to its supposed invention in Scotland, but that’s another story), settled on flagrant self promotion as my answer.
I used as an example, some Tweets I had randomly seethed at – ‘Am sitting with a Vice President, two Distinguished Engineers and a Prince of the Realm’, ‘On a conference call with the Sultan of Brunei’, ‘Having a mineral water with the CEO’. To my astonishment, virtually everyone in the room was totally in agreement, except for one chap in the corner who was feverishly punching away at his mobile phone… These tweets are nothing more than self promotion by association and I would ask the perpetrators of this nonsense to consider whether they would repeat the tweet out loud to a room full of their closest friends before sending!
The principal of ‘Brand Me’ is well established and executives in forward thinking companies are encouraged to use social software to advance both the brand they work for and by association, their own imprint on the public consciousness. In IT, people who have done this to great effect (although not necessarily with social software) are Steve Jobs, synonymous with Apple, Bill Gates – Microsoft, Larry Ellison etc etc. These are bona fide celebrities with a lifetime of achievement in their lockers. However no technology has done more to advance Andy Warhol’s claim that ‘in the future everyone will be famous for five minutes’ than Twitter.
Twitter is a global phenomenon, we have rappers dissing one another, celebrities celebrating and a pattern of usage that extends from the useful to the banal. Twitter can be fantastically useful – in breaking news, in serving small virtual communities, simply in keeping in touch these technologies enable an exchange of ideas which is extraordinarily potent.
My point is this, self promotion is not straightforward. In some cultures it is practically compulsory (the music business, fashion), in others, frowned upon (law). It’s a difficult trick to pull off without offending someone, somewhere. My own view is that self promotion is necessary at times, and that in this information frenzy, so is self editing. A judicious tweet will win hearts and minds – an injudicious posting will live for ever!