So often, if the television set is on, I’m watching it alone. That’s not a problem. It’s just the way it is. I typically don’t have my computer on at the same time. But now that I finally have a wireless router, I can use my laptop anywhere in my home. When, the 2009 BET Awards came on, I just happened to be on Facebook and quickly realized that I was not alone. There was a group of about twenty of us critiquing the show from start to finish in real time. Many were watching the entire show for the first time or for the first time in years. After all, the show was a partial tribute to the late Michael Jackson. I forced myself to write the word “late. ”
With record numbers of communication using Twitter and Facebook not to mention email and text as people shared the news of the King of Pop’s passing, we all must take a pregnant pause long enough to really understand the impact of the seismic shift in media usage and consumption. We know people are not passive and that they want information any time, any place, and any way they want it. We know more people have mobile devices than computers. And we know that there are more than 200 million people on Facebook.
As more and more people joined the conversation about the BET Awards, from the opening number featuring New Edition including Bobby Brown, I slowly realized what was about to transpire. I didn’t have to watch the show alone or make a phone call. I didn’t have to text. All I had to do was remain on facebook and participate. I thought about how ideas spread, a notion Seth Godin, Malcolm Gladwell and others discuss at length. I reflected on the power of peers. I even pondered the First Amemdment, the notion of Free speech as the folks at BET bleeped inappropriate language so many times, I truly lost count. The key here is that I’m thinking about how to facilitate and improve the way that we interact. And, thanks to crowdsourcing, I don’t have to think alone. I posed this question to those who were on Facebook watching the Awards show:
Hey, before everybody goes. Tell me about your experience discussing the Awards show on FB. Have you done this watching any show before? About how many people in your network are participating? What does this mean? How can we innovate, build apps and do thing(s) with this tool in the future? I will post comments to my blog using first names only.
“Actually, I think there needs to be a better way to respond multiple discusson threads…I have been corresponding with multiple ppl, and I have to keep scrolling back, click on the notifications (which are sometimes delayed) and must keep refreshing ’cause the network keeps freezing…”
“when I saw one particularly fun FB friend commenting quite a bit about the show, I tuned in to watch, even though I wouldn’t normally and even though I was supposed to working. I enjoyed the experience. And one other FB friend was also commenting about the show, so that was interesting to compare their comments. I wanted to somehow get them to communicate w/ each other.”
“I didn’t do it the entire time like you all did but had fun when I did. I was checking to see what you all were saying even when I wasn’t participating. I had only one more person in my network comment.”
“I had fun commenting the entire awards show. It was great to see what others had to say and the comments that were discussed. It was funny because many people were thinking along the same line. I did get a good laugh.”
Based on these responses and my insight, here are some suggestions for media, marketing and many people who want to maximize their opportunities virtually.
Any event can be interactive. You can live blog using coveritlive. You can cover the event live on your website using sites like livestream or ustream. You can add a Twitter feed, just use the # (hashtag) and the word and you’ve created a separate strand through which to communicate. You can record interviews on Skype by using Jing or Snapz Pro. The possibilities are truly infinite in many ways. Just take the time to think and to experiment.
Be tuned into your audience. There were audio difficulties throughout the show. The producers seemed to be aware of them, however, if an associate producer or even an intern can monitor social networking during live taping, it would be a wise use of resources.
Allow your audience to interact in real time. I know this is a terrifying proposition but with all of the new media tools, a show could Skype some people in just like Oprah Winfrey does on a regular basis now. She is saving thousands, if not millions of dollars by not having to bring in all of the guests and not to have to purchase satellite time. You have to have Twitter and Facebook available at all times.
Just like the Open Source movement which allows computer programmers, designers and others to compete on different projects because the source code for the actual computer program is free and available, any show can post a rundown on their website and get ideas from the audience about how to improve the show. It’s called shared control. You still have the final say as the producer, howver, you have many more ideas from the audience. Only a few people will typically contribute. You’ll see the cream rise to the top and may be able to recruit future employees this way as well. Transparency is beyond essential in the virtual age.
Learn how to create and build applications for platforms like Facebook and the iPhone.
Know that people will stumble onto your site or show because their friends are there. That means you need to have extra information for people who are less familiar with the show, product or information.
Always offer additional online resources, on the Awards site there are plenty of extras.
Let me say, that the highlight of the show was Janet Jackson. I was absolutely stunned yet beyond happy that she appeared. She looked absolutely beautiful and spoke just as well. She was the best representative. The second highlight was the O’Jays. They sang and danced marvelously.
Last words, don’t worry about anything or anyone else, be original. I wanted to get this written before I fell asleep. Please excuse any typos. Like Jamie Foxx on the Awards show, I’ll make a shameless plug, if you need help, I’m happy to help by doing a seminar, workshop and/or consulting session. Just email me at email@example.com. THANKS!