Commentary

Social TV's Evolution Ushers In New Era Of Content Creation

Stripping away all the buzz and technology, at its core social media is just another way to tell a story and simultaneously grow your audience base and drive ratings.

At MTV, we’ve been hyper-focused in growing our social ecosystem and exploring new ways to create quality experiences on these platforms.  The hard work and investment appears to be paying off -- we’ve grown our social graph to nearly 100 million Facebooks likes and close to 5 million Twitter followers, as well as ranking as the No. 1 TV brand on many other platforms, such as Foursquare, Tumblr and Instagram. 
 

In addition to reach, our fans are deeply engaged and highly active with us on these social platforms.
From the advent of radio, movies and television, content inspiration has always followed technological innovation. Social is no different.

As content creators, storytelling is core to what we do -- and we believe that social is just another platform to tell a story.  Despite what you may hear, technology and social can’t make average content good, but it can make good content great.

 It is our role to understand how our audience thinks and then apply that knowledge to engage them in more meaningful ways across social platforms.

Through our work and proprietary research, we’ve learned that young adults, who we refer to as millennials, are programmed differently than previous generations. Even if millennials aren’t your demo now, they will be soon, and it’s invaluable to understand what motivates them.

By many reports, there are nearly 100 million millennials, young adults born between the early 1980s and 1990s, in the U.S. That’s a staggering number and arguably the single largest generational cohort in American history. 

This is a generation that’s perpetually connected to their network, their social graph, their entire world, at all times. Their network is their source for all products and experience.

As storytellers, it our role to understand how our audiences think and then apply that knowledge to engage them in more meaningful ways across all platforms.
 
With this in mind, we are now creating content and designing experiences that will be foundational in envisioning the next generation of social TV, based on a number of observed millennial behaviors.
 
One of the defining characteristics of the generation is their creativity and innovative power. They demand a hand in the creation of products, experiences, performance, and the work of their favorite artists. They want to have a role in navigating the story and deciding its outcome.
 
Millennials want a direct personal and interactive relationship with the musicians, celebrities and brands they love. They demand zero distance between product and consumer, full transparency and total access.
 
This is a generation that grew up on gaming. By the time they are 21, they have spent over 10k hours gaming -- the equivalent of going to school every day from 5th to 12th grade. They’re experts. It’s engrained in how they think. Game-like dynamics will drive many emerging products and content that are important to this generation
 
We’re now in the process of incubating and testing new experiences based on these insights that will be foundational in envisioning the next generation of social TV.
 
Here’s one example. This past April, we introduced a digital-only awards show -- the O Music Awards -- to celebrate how technology is impacting music. To kick off the show, we had rapper Chiddy of Chiddy Bang attempt to break the world record for longest freestyle rap at 9 hours and 15 minutes. With minimal budget, we designed an interactive experience where those watching the world record attempt unfold via a live stream could tweet and suggest topics in real time directly to Chiddy to rap about.

 Not only did our audience love having direct access to Chiddy, but by allowing them to tweet in topics to co-create and influence the story arc, they were able to experience real time fan gratification, similar to the validation they seek from their social graphs.

There was a level of authenticity and realness here that drove an insane amount of user engagement. As a result, we landed two trending topics on Twitter for a digital only event -- without a TV counterpart -- and the O Music Awards went on to come our second-biggest live stream to date.

This is just one of the many early experiments we’ve been testing that illustrate the potential that storytelling without borders provides content creators.

While content will always be king, the ways audiences will consume and interact with it are quickly changing. It is critical that we as an industry listen to the audience and embrace these changes.  Despite all of these advances in technology, at the end of the day, it’s about storytelling. Social media is simply providing us more ways to engage and delight our audiences.

 



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