When STAR India and Discovery International tied up with Facebook to get access to data regarding user comments, social media engagement of broadcasters moved to a completely new level. While mainline brands have been aggressive and far more receptive when it comes to making their digital strategy robust and engagement through social media more versatile, Indian broadcasting brands have been slow to the change.
However, this scenario is changing steadily. The social strategy of most broadcasters for long hadn’t gone beyond having a presence on Facebook. But today, the level of engagement exhibited by channels online has gone up several notches higher.
Change in perception
Experts believe that the deal that STAR India and Discovery have struck with Facebook was inevitable considering the level of engaging discussions that the social media site nurtures.
Venky Sharma, Digital Head, STAR India explained, “We realised that the audiences usually discuss and talk about the content online, irrespective of the brand presence. We decided to be a part of such discussions. Secondly, if you are a part of discussions, you can oversee that the conversations do not turn directionless. The presence of the brand ensures that the brand side of the story is always told.”
He further said, “The digital strategy of broadcasters is not confined to social media, but eventually spread to YouTube, blogs, mobile, and so on. A larger part of our TG is present online, which is critical. Our shows such as ‘Mahabharata’ have created immense buzz online.”
Broadcasters are now realising the growing importance of the second screen and its capitalisation. As shared by Suveer Bajaj, Co-founder, Foxymoron, “Broadcasters are now trying to create a second screen viewing experience. The overall objective of every broadcaster is to increase tune-ins to their shows. The objective, however, should be to build and engage an aggregated community that will help to gather insights which are programmable, marketable and actionable.”
A recent example is History18 channel crowd-sourcing the idea of premiering a show in India through the online medium. The channel tied up with Goonj, a proprietary business intelligence tool for tracking every business environment. While using a run for History18 in India, the channel found that among the most commonly used terms were ‘Ancient Aliens’. This prompted the channel to bring the show to India.
Reiterating Sharma’s views, Rajeev Menon, Senior Manager, Marketing, History18 said, “The second screen has become very resourceful. TAM gives ratings for the show, but the online medium like such can be used to track projections. This is a robust mechanism.”
Like History 18, some other broadcasters too are using the online medium as projection analytics. This was not the case just five years ago.
Tapping into the growing smart phone market in India, and given the growing concerns regarding security of women, Channel [v] recently launched an app called VithU. As per a note sent by the channel, “With over 60 per cent penetration of smart phones in the market and increasing time spent by our TG on the mobile platform, it made perfect sense to extend the brand created with the sole intention of aiding women’s safety. The VithU app has seen over 5 lakh downloads already. With the kind of reach and influence that TV channels have, we believe it is critical for us to not merely entertain, but also contribute to enriching lives and creating social impact in every way we can.” The channel has roped in some celebrities to endorse the app.
Another youth-focussed channel, MTV, recently launched a show called ‘Webbed’, which depicts how dangerous the online medium could become if misused through the show’s teen characters.
Not to be left behind, Hindi GEC Colors has also introduced a gaming app around its show ‘24’ to engage with the audiences beyond the TV screen. Star Plus has got a Twitter mirror for its dance reality show ‘Nach Baliye – 6’.
For kids channel ZEE Q, the engagement is not with the core TG, but the decision makers. The channel, which currently does not have any versatile digital campaigns, engages with parents on its Facebook page. “When parents of kids come to our page, we want a level of engagement that encourages them to sample the channel for their kids. We accordingly formulate our digital strategy.”
The way forward
With more and more audiences getting online and the growing usage of smart phones in the county, it has become imperative for broadcasters to extend their digital strategy to user engagement and greater transparency. According to industry experts, the online audience is smart and globalised. As the digitisation process progresses, broadcasters need to present more robust content and here, digital strategy can play a significant role.
Instances such as History18 crown sourcing content are likely to increase in the near future. Among channels that have social media presence, genre plays an important role. For example, a sports channel or an infotainment channel is far more active in terms of engagement than a general entertainment channel. However, experts believe that it is only a matter of time when all channels will up their ante on digital media.