Second-Screen Viewing: The Next CRM Tool?

When was the last time you watched a television show without checking your email, playing a game of Words with Friends or scanning the Web for additional information? When was the last time you attended a conference without tweeting? Can’t remember, right? 

According to a Q4 2011 Nielsen survey, 88% of people who own tablets and 86% of those with smartphones in the U.S. have used their devices at least once while watching television in the past month. This multitasking between two screens or “second-screen viewing” refers to an audience consuming or interacting with content on one electronic device (e.g. watching a movie or television show, viewing a presentation at a conference) while simultaneously engaging with data on another device or screen (e.g., playing a video game, texting, posting to social media channels). 

Companies are already cognizant of the importance of a mobile strategy, but now major brands are incorporating second-screen tactics to increase audience engagement, build customer relationships and extend their messaging. For example, Facebook is teaming up with CNN in hopes to become the “second screen” for political coverage of the 2012 election. The experience titled “America’s Choice 2012,” will encourage users to share their political views through an app, and then the surveys and sentiments will be incorporated into CNN broadcast coverage. 

What should you consider when implementing a second-screen viewing plan? Here are three key points: 

1. Clear Content Link – In orderfor viewers to utilize multi-screen applications, there has to be a clear connection between the screen content and interactions. For example, shows like “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars” direct viewers to vote for contestants online or via text as well as to tweet about various performances with the provided hashtag. Additionally, news outlets will often encourage viewers to vote in an online poll or send photographs of events happening in their area to be featured later during the broadcast. 

Not in the television industry? Even businesses must provide a clear connection between their presentations and their requests for second-screen interaction. Organizations running live events may ask attendees to answer survey questions during a conference and provide results as an interactive portion of a presentation. Further, companies may offer participants on-demand access following an event to download materials or review live demonstrations at a later date. 

In all of these instances, the screen interactions are complementary, don’t seem forced and give the audience an interactive way to connect with the presented content. 

2. Provide Audience Incentive – While many second-screen users simply want to be part of a conversation and provide their opinions, companies must account for customers looking for incentives for participation. Premier access to exclusive content, discounts and free downloads are easy ways for businesses to increase cross-platform interaction and encourage customer loyalty. 

3. Instant Market Research – By engaging consumers through social media chatting, polls or e-commerce as a complement to original programming, companies are essentially given instant focus group data. Broadcasters and businesses alike are privy to when people tweet or post messages about their shows, what they are saying and what aspects of the presented content are most engaging for viewers. This feedback allows content creators to better develop programming and tailor their communication strategies accordingly. 

As the smartphone and tablet markets continue to grow, social media networking rises and consumers look for additional ways to explore content, companies need to provide their customers with creative ways to discover and connect with the information presented. In turn, they will be rewarded with increased brand loyalty, viewership and—fingers crossed—sales. 

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