LATV Panel: More to Online Success than Video

Los Angeles -- Let it go.

Let go of the idea that everything online has to be on video. Cede control of your creation once it’s out there. Embrace your audience -- even if they’re critical. Give up the notion of a million-dollar overnight sensation. And move on if your idea’s not connecting.

That’s how to succeed in social media, according to panel discussion “Social Media: Strategies in Content and Commerce,” which B&C editor Ben Grossman moderated during the National Association of Television Program Executives’ LATV Festival here Wednesday.

Contrary to popular practice right now, making it online is not all about video, said panelist Erik Flannigan, executive vice president of digital media for MTV Networks Entertainment Group.

“The over-reliance on everything being a two- to three-minute video clip is asinine,” he said.

There are other things one can do to create community, traffic and a buck that do not involve video, the panelists agreed.

“Leverage what the technology does that’s unique,” said panelist Dick Glover, president and CEO of Or Die Networks and Funny or Die. “It plays video, but it does other things, too.”

Among the other things technology users can do: Open a virtual branch of the company depicted on NBC’s The Office. Panelist Stephen Andrade, senior VP of digital development and general manager at (, reported success with fanning enthusiasm for the show online by instituting the faux offices.

“When people pitch original video projects, it’s good to keep in mind that nonvideo page views are a lot easier to create and monetize,” he said.

What’s more, monetizing social media is a much different game than traditional TV. One thing Andrade said would give aspiring producers an edge is to “know the economics before you come in.”

“The TV business developed a mindset that is hit-driven, where one hit pays for 10 failures,” he added. “Online, hits are usually viral and probably not monetized at all. You should come in because you want to be in something creative,” he said, not wanting to make millions of dollars instantly.

As important as knowing the economics is knowing that you do not control the fans, Flannigan said.

“They’re going to mix your work, mock it -- sometimes lovingly, sometimes nastily. We have some creators who are ready for that, but for others, that’s the biggest stumbling block, being able to take your hands off the wheel,” he added.

Glover concurred with an anecdote about a top-level TV writer-producer who came to him with a great idea. But the writer said they would not allow any commenting.

“We said, ‘It’s out, no deal,’” Glover said.

Opportunity awaits for those who can get comfy with the idea of fans chopping things up or spitting on them. Flannigan said fans “can play with your toys sometimes as well as you can,” citing a video a fan made that played as well as anything professionally produced.

Panelist Danny Kastner, CEO and founder of FanRocket, suggested pursuing the role of the bridge between new and old mindsets as a way of breaking into entertainment.

“Building content that aspires to work with existing or new content is a good way to go,” he added. “Producers are looking for people who can do this.”

Ultimately, if one concept is not gelling, it’s best to nix it and take another shot, since the barrier to entry in this space is so low, the panelists advised.

“If it doesn’t stick, move on,” Glover said.

To watch NATPE's video reports from the LATV Festival, click here.