The social media are not television.
At least they didn’t used to be. But that’s changing – and quickly – as some of the major social networks forget what brought them here and morph head-long into life as broadcast media.
After flirting with it for nearly a year, Twitter announced last week it will soon offer up at least 16 new live streaming television channels for news, sports and entertainment. It is reported Facebook will within the next few months start serving up its original television programs on the order of NetFlix, Amazon and the premium television movie channels like HBO and Showtime.
YouTube has been building a television programming effort for quite a while now.
Sure, we will continue to refer to these new broadcast channels as social media. But they won’t be so social. They will be broadcast media. Sure, we’ll still use them as social media, interacting with friends and customers and supporters. We will still use them as viable tools for digital marketing because on them we can interact socially with friends, customers and supporters.
The live stream and broadcast programming and entertainment are all about eyeballs, of course, and getting as many glued to the platforms as possible because that’s how the social platforms can sell advertising. More eyeballs for ad sales. There is nothing wrong with that. We all realize the social platforms have to make money to survive. Facebook already makes money than God while Twitter continues to struggle to earn a profit.
But it seems more than a little ironic for the social media to return to “old” forms of media – broadcast – to advance to the next economic level.
“Twitter is what’s happening and this makes it a unique and powerful platform for premium video content that people watch and discuss in real time,” said Twitter in it’s “now we’re a TV channel” announcement last week. “With these new content offerings, we’re helping people enjoy more great video content, helping publishers drive more revenue, and helping brands align with the best mobile video content, all at massive and accelerating scale. If you’re a brand, there’s no better time to reach and engage your audience through premium video content.”
Actually, there was a better time to reach audiences through video content – it was back in the 1950s and 1960s when television was a brand new medium, television sets were getting rapidly cheaper to buy and engaged views only had two or three channels from which to choose. Nearly everyone in the world with a television set saw live The Beatles for the very first time on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. You want media marketing? That was, perhaps, the greatest media marketing coup of all time. And we all know what happened after that.
“Facebook plans to have about two dozen shows for this initial push and has greenlit multiple shows for production, according to people familiar with the discussions,” reported BI. “They said the social network had been looking for shows in two distinct tiers: a marquee tier for a few longer, big-budget shows that would feel at home on TV, and a lower tier for shorter, less expensive shows of about five to 10 minutes that would refresh every 24 hours.”
All that’s great – we suppose. And, sure, viewers will discuss all these programs on the social networks in real time. We’ve been doing that since the dawn of the social media age. (Of course, for Facebook it’s all about being the only internet portal you ever use.)
Forgive us if we sound a bit curmudgeonly here as the social networks morph into just one more broadcast channel. But the fact remains the social channels are special because they are social, because we can all get on them and talk to each other. We engage with others.
There is nothing new about a plethora of broadcast channels adding to the cacophony of entertainment opportunities.
And for marketing? We’re fond of trying to explain to new clients unfamiliar with digital marketing that the social media are a bit like sitting around on one’s front porch, talking over the day’s events with family and friends. The difference is with the social media that front porch can be the whole world (or the half of it connected to the internet).
For digital marketeers the social media offer an opportunity
It’s not going be quite the same experience sitting in a major sports stadium during a game talking over the day’s events with family and friends.