A recent Pew Research Center poll showed that 63% of U.S. adults have a profi le on a social media site. That’s something broadcasters have a good reason to “like”: They have widely embraced social media as a tool for building audiences and attracting viewers. Less obvious, however, is the increasing role that social media is playing behind the scenes in broadcast operations.
Much of this effort is still in its infancy, and a lot of the heavy lifting is being done by broadcast vendors as a way to better market equipment and services. But a growing number of vendors are also using social media as a tool to help broadcasters improve their operations and exchange tips on using their products.
“Social media is really changing the paradigm of how you should be positioning yourself to be of value to your customers,” says Paul Lara, marketing director at Broadcast Pix, which recently expanded its social media efforts by launching a new online user forum where customers share production tips and other comments. “It is all about being part of their conversation and providing something of value to them. There are many cases where there isn’t an opportunity to pitch your product, but that’s OK because it’s all about building relationships and trust.”
The expanding use of social media does, however, raise some thorny issues, including the amount of staff time needed for these efforts. “If you don’t keep your Facebook [page] fresh and you’re not constantly updating it, the chances of people continuing to come back to it are slim to none,” notes Thom Calabro, director of marketing and product development for Fujifi lm North America, which has been producing videos for YouTube on subjects such as proper camera lens cleaning and 3D production.
Chris Black, corporate communications editor at graphics products vendor Vizrt, notes that as part of the company’s social media efforts they tweet out the release of new patches for software, respond to customer questions about products posted on Facebook and search YouTube, Vimeo and other sites for videos posted by users of Vizrt products. Some of these clips are then posted on Vizrt’s Facebook page, which provides users with ideas for graphics design.
But Black stresses that companies also need to respond quickly to problems and be careful about what their approach is. For example, a recent social media campaign by McDonald’s asking for stories about their restaurants had to be quickly taken down because it prompted so many negative comments, he says.
Realistic expectations are also important. “I don’t think that the head of engineering at a major network or station group is going to buy a product based on what he reads about it on Facebook,” says Pedro Silvestre, sales director for video equipment vendor FOR-A Corp. of America. “On the other hand, the younger generation gets a lot of information from these sources, and it is important for us to be able to provide it.”
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