(False) Dilemma: Adapt in Real Time or Vanish

The second screen viewing, a cross-media TV show. What’s next? How does this new trend affect the way business decisions are made?

Becky Mancuso defines the second screen viewing, a verifiable trend in 2011, as “the act of watching TV while concurrently engaging on a tablet or mobile device”. When watching TV, pay attention to the lower right corner of your TV screen: it doesn’t contain only the name of the TV station anymore, but also a Twitter hashtag.

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NBC's The Voice actively incorporates social channels into the actual broadcast and encourages real-time discussion during showtime. (Image by Getty Images via @daylife)

2011 was the year of the return of collective TV viewing. You may not remember, but in the 1920s and 1930s listening to radio was a collective activity – families and friends and neighbors getting together and listening to their favorite radio show. The same thing happened again during the first years of TV. Social media and microblogging have now been making collective TV viewing possible again: we share the same experience in real time. Heck, how many jokes are there about teenage couples who watch the same show, but not in the same room? However, they share the same experience by texting each other and discussing the show in real time via Twitter or Facebook.

TV is a medium expanding into a multi-platform, engaged conversation with friends and strangers alike. Innovative TV stations are taking advantage of this new trend. Luke Dringoli describes well the three latest examples of the second screen viewing, including NBC’s The Voice and this year’s Grammy Awards. TV can integrate microblogging service Twitter into an episode of a TV show also in other innovative ways. Last year NBC’s comedy Community “live” tweeted character Annie’s move to her new apartment. All of the show characters were outfitted in plain blue t-shirts adorned with the hashtag #AnniesMove.

The Latin Americans have taken this a even further. Todos estamos conectados (Everyone Is Connected), the first cross-media show in Latin America, premiered last month on Canal 10 in Montevideo, Uruguay. The format was created by Damián Kirzner, head of New Sock, an audiovisual content production company. This innovative show allows viewers to participate via the Internet and generate content. Viewers can interact with hosts via webcam: they must sign up through Facebook and participate in an online casting. I asked Kirzner, an Argentine winner of a Young Creative Entrepreneur Award, given by the British Council, what other businesses can learn from their case. “We understand that new communication technologies propose creative alternatives that didn´t exist before, and we understand these new things as a possibility to innovate the creation of content and, above all, democratize the participation of the audience of the traditional mass media.”

Brands today are faced with the social media (including blogging) world. It’s still fresh, but already quite powerful. The brands that want to survive unscathed in this environment will have to adapt fast. Does all of the above mean we’re already moving into an era of making business decisions and changes in real time? How can business make decisions and changes in real time? Damián Kirzner says, “If we create content in real time, we have to make decisions in real time, too. This is common in live TV; if you combine new technologies with this logic, the process is the same. If we can measure the behavior of our online and on-air community, we can (must!!) make decisions in real time to improve results. Is this the future or already a reality? Our format, Conectados, shows that this is already a reality and, without a doubt, its future is great and it will develop around the world.”

And here we go again – engagement. A survival of a business, a TV show or a product or service, seems to depend on the engagement, a two-way dialogue between fans and the brand. Dringoli stresses, “A viewer should no longer be expected to sit through a program that offers no opportunities to be engaged with.” All of us, including bloggers, have gained a lot of power. We’re forcing brands to make necessary changes faster, preferably in real time.

Do you know any other example of brands making changes in real time, big or small? What do you think about the power of social media and blogs to make brands react faster?

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