Socially-driven television: To share or not to share

Economy May 13, 2014 00:00

By Maas Virajoti
Special to The

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With the recent improvements of infrastructure and technology, people around the world are now adapting their behaviour when consuming content on television. They are now more open to talk about what they have watched through means such as social media.

To them, television has changed from a static medium into an interactive medium through this shift, coining a new trend called “social television”. With this global movement, Thais have already jumped on to the bandwagon, giving marketers and content providers operating in Thailand a large-scale opportunity for businesses as digital TV in Thailand steps into its infant stage.
So, how can this trend spark new opportunities in Thailand? If humans are social animals, Thais must be the kings of the jungle. Thais are very open when it comes to sharing their thoughts about what they have watched and enjoyed. 
According to the 5,000-person sample in a connection-panel study conducted by IPG Mediabrands, 91 per cent of Thais like to talk to other people about the shows they have seen on TV, while 87 per cent would discuss with others the adverts they have seen. 
To make the social-TV trend more imminent, the same study also shows a noticeable shift in that younger Thais are now 28 per cent more socially active through social-media interaction than face-to-face interaction on a daily basis. This means they talk to one another more online than through physical means. 
These are all positive indications that Thais like to share what they have seen on TV with one another through digital means.
With this in mind, the enormous opportunity for Thai marketers and content providers lies with understanding what consumers really want. Since Thais like to share what they have seen so much, they are natural endorsers of content. To take advantage of this opportunity, marketers and providers will need to know how to keep these natural endorsers in the loop. 
The same study by IPG Mediabrands shows indications of how to keep them talking.
First, the content has to be fast and fresh because Thais do not like to wait. The study shows that 68 per cent value their pride on being the first to know about things, while 72 per cent believe they are living in the fast lane. To get this group to share and endorse your content, it has to be very fresh and up to date. 
For example, many mega-hit TV series from South Korea are delayed from officially airing in Thailand by six months or more. Giving this half-year gap, fans would turn their attention to the free subtitled episodes on the Internet, resulting in loss of opportunity when a series is officially launched here. Therefore, anticipating the type of content consumers are hyping through social media is the key. 
If you are a marketer or a provider, you must try to find out what consumers are discussing and demanding through fanpages of your own media or invest in social listening tools to see what consumers are saying on their own pages.
Second, the content or TV advert has to be fun and intriguing enough for people to keep the flow going. Eighty per cent of Thais believe that watching TV is a shared experience and 66 per cent often share and discuss with their friends what they have just watched because they do not want to feel left out of the conversation. The content has to be able to keep the discussion going, be it about the characters, the celebrities who portrayed them, or the story line. 
A good example would be the US hit series “Game of Thrones” and “The Big Bang Theory”, where the makers provide applications or social-network pages filled with trivia and interactive games. These shows also enable the “check-in” system for fans to announce to their friends on social networks what they are watching. New-episode teasers or even short versions of great moments of certain episodes are also available to be shared. 
If you are a content maker, be ready to provide new and interesting ways to encourage viewers to share on your behalf.
The indications are positive that Thai consumers are ready to be your endorsers. Treat them as you would treat your loved ones by listening to them, understanding them, and providing for them. They will be all yours.
Maas Virajoti is GroupHead of Strategy and Innovation, IPG Mediabrands Thailand.