Facebook announced recently a collection of new tools designed to help TV networks and studios encourage and curate fan interaction, conversation and engagement around their shows.The status network is encouraging networks and studios to post clips in near-realtime, engage with fans throughout show broadcasts, offer polls that solicit fan feedback, publish custom graphics and more. Facebook wants its platform to be the place for these TV-centric conversations as a way to appeal to media companies and draw their attention (and ad dollars) away from Twitter.
Similarly, if you are checking Twitter via the web or in the official mobile app during a TV broadcast you’re constantly seeing prompts like this, which encourage you to view more of the conversation around those shows.
Part of why Twitter and Facebook are trying to encourage real-time conversations around TV shows is because that’s what the networks want, no matter what social platform it’s on. They want people to watching these shows when they air, not one, three or seven days later, because if they’re watching them now then they’re also watching the ads they rely on for revenue. And Twitter and Facebook want those networks to see that they’re doing everything they can to get people involved in real-time so they themselves can get some ad dollars from networks looking to boost some conversations about their shows.
So two of the biggest social networks around right now are doing everything they can to promote themselves as THE place to discuss TV shows. But what about discussing movies?
Unfortunately – and for obvious reasons – movies are a tougher nut to crack. They can’t exactly prompt people to be discussing The Martian while they’re watching it because everyone has silenced their cellphones before the movie started JUST LIKE THE M&MS TOLD US TO, RIGHT? And even if they haven’t and are Tweeting during the movie, their conversation at 10:20AM in Chicago isn’t going to be very contextual to someone who’s in San Diego. Or even someone five miles away who’s seeing the movie later that afternoon, next week or waiting for it to come out on video. Movies are locally a communal viewing experience but aside from that it’s a disparate and isolated one. So it’s hard to get everyone talking about a movie at the same time regardless of location.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Or that time-shifted conversations can’t take place on social networks like Twitter and Facebook around movies that are respectful of people’s differing viewing schedules.
Twitter’s “See more about…” prompts could be easily, I think, translated into movies during opening weekend. “See more about Bridge of Spies” could lead to a collection of top Tweets about the movie just like the network is doing for TV shows right now. And it’s not to much to think that Facebook could adjust some of its tools to accommodate movie studios’ desire to spur conversations. This would make sense for all the networks since it’s just as important to appeal to movie studios as it is to TV networks.
But right now that’s not where the focus is at Facebook and Twitter. So it’s on the studios to create talkable moments either on social channels or on-domain where they can rally fans and centralize the conversation, showing what people are talking about and encouraging people to not only view that curated collection but also participate themselves. That would take some work – not much considering the availability of tools like Storify and others, many of which live inside CMS products like Shoutlet, Spredfast and more – but it would be worth it for the benefits it would bring in word of mouth.