The Second Screen

Anne Hathaway at the 81st Academy Awards

Image via Wikipedia

There was a time when families and friends would gather around the television to watch their favorite shows, laughing and crying together.  At the end, or during commercials, everyone would gossip about the plot or the news or what so-and-so was wearing.  Today, even if you’re sitting at home alone, chances are you do the same thing … using modern technology like Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday night, millions of people around the world gathered around their televisions for the 82nd Academy Awards on CBS.  They also gathered around their iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Droid, or laptop to share in a running commentary with friends and strangers also watching from around the world. Even the hosts and nominees joined the discussion in real-time from the Kodak Theater.

Regardless of your opinion of the Oscar’s production, co-host James Franco did become the first tweeting host.  Franco went so far as to post a Twitvid of he and Anne Hathaway’s stage introduction.  The world responded … a total of 36.4-million Tweets during the five hours of Oscar coverage Sunday night (compared to 38.5-million Tweets about this year’s Superbowl during a similar five hour period).  At several times during the awards show itself, more than 8-thousand Tweets per minute were published.  Activity spiked during the two occasions when the official “#Oscars” hashtag was promoted on screen.

American Idol will be the next live television show to really engage viewers through social media.  This week, producer Nigel Lythgoe will debut internet voting!  Idol fans will now be able to log in to a special voting page on the American Idol website using their Facebook profile and vote up to a maximum of 50-times each night for their favorite singer during that time zone’s voting window.

I would expect many other live/reality programs to follow suit, Dancing with the Stars is the next obvious candidate.

So, what did your station and your personalities do Sunday night?  Were they posting comments in real-time to their Facebook & Twitter streams?  Did they interact, respond, and engage their listeners in real-time?  Or, did a part time promotions person simply post a generic poll that nobody checked or mentioned on air so everyone could go to bed early?

The opportunity to engage your audience is around you everyday.  Mainstream TV like the Grammies, the Oscars, the State of the Union Address, Idol, Dancing with the Stars, The Bachelor, etc are easy … and your talent is probably watching one of them already!

Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said (in less than 140 characters) “People have talked about interactive TV and a second screen experience forever. We’re seeing now that the second screen is Twitter.

There was a time family and friends would gather around the TV to watch together … but, there was also a time when family and friends would gather around the radio, too.  Don’t limit your strategy for real-time social media engagement solely to piggyback television events.  What can you do while you’re on the air, or off-the-air for that matter, to incorporate “the second screen?”  Facebook, Twitter, blogs, video blogs, UStream, et cetra are just some of the tools we have available today for radio to recreate that sense of community, immediacy, and personal relationship with your listeners.  Don’t miss out!

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