Have you noticed the growing use of hashtags by TV shows? Their popularity has driven the two screen phenomenon where by mobile and tablet devices are being used at the same time as watching the television.
The hashtags are being used to create a community on the fly revolved around the program, driving feedback, discussion and comment. Applications such as Zeebox are making it even easier to follow discussions by collating all the related hashtags across networks into one interface.
Not only that, but they are filtering comments from celebrities and experts, enriching the experience further.
Even Twitter themselves are excited by the opportunity, to the point that they have produced a downloadable book called Tune In With Twitter. Providing insight into the patterns of activity seen on Twitter related to the phases of a TV show for producers and advertisers.
Even Nielsen are getting in on the act with their new “Nielsen Twitter TV Rating”, measuring the discussion around TV show’s on the social platform.
Leveraging the Hashtag
This is great for the program producers, providing an indication of the popularity of their shows and allowing them to learn directly from their audience.
But how is this relevant for business?
With some creativity business can take advantage of this adhoc community creation by joining in the discussion via the hashtags.
This is more commonly known as Newsjacking, and usually done in relation to hashtags used in breaking news item status updates. But there’s no reason why the technique can’t be used with any popular discussion, including those based on TV shows.
You will need to be careful, as you won’t win many fans by spamming a hashtag with irrelevant self-promotional messages. By selecting programs carefully, ones related in some way to your product or service, you can start to add value to the discussion.
Search for the relevant hashtag, I recommend using Hootsuite, and save it as a stream. Do the same for any variations and monitor the discussion looking for opportunities to join in the conversation. Identify those people that are highly active, they may well be key influencers, and follow any participants that match your target market.
DIY programs are very popular on TV currently, if you run a hardware store, supply gardening equipment or building materials add your point of view or suggest alternate ways to solve the problems being demonstrated. If you have relevant content on your website, useful “How To” articles try linking to them.
Just like DIY, cooking programs can dominate the TV schedule at times. These open the door for restaurant owners, chefs, supermarkets, stall holders or local niche shops to leverage the discussion. Alternative methods or recipes, low fat or healthier substitutes, follow the flow of the conversation and look for an opportunity to participate.
Sporting and music events offer huge opportunities to a wide range of businesses from suppliers of fan merchandise to ticket sales for future events. Again follow or create a list of those actively taking part as potential future customers, and if you have tickets for the next gig you may want to mention that too.
Based on these examples I am sure you can think of plenty of further types of TV show types that maybe be suitable.
Have A Plan
If you are going to try this tactic ensure you have a plan. Look at the TV schedule well ahead of time, understand what the program will cover and prepare potential content on your website and some ideas for discussion. Try to establish all of the hashtags those watching the TV Show use. Services like hashtag research company Ritetag may provide further insight into related hashtags.
For the first few times you may want to just observe the conversion rather than dive straight in. Get a feel for the tone of voice, is the discussion serious or flippant?
In some cases the discussion may not have much substance and become difficult to join. In others there may be established relationships between those in the discussion and you may need to enter with care.
You will certainly need some practice to perfect your technique, try too hard and you may well get ignored, too soft and you may not get noticed at all.
Keep It Relevant
Whatever you do please keep it relevant.
There is nothing worse than a business trying to take part in a community in which they just don’t belong. For example political discussion and documentaries related to disasters are probably best avoided by those without substantial experience in the sector.
If you attempt this social marketing tactic in the wrong way you can potentially end up damaging your brand or business. With care it can build authority and create some of the biggest advocates you are likely to find.
Give It A Go
Try Newsjacking TV Show hashtags for yourself, maybe Coronation Street isn’t the right show for you! But let me know how you get on. Please leave any feedback or suggestions in the comments below.