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Using Social Media to GetViewers Where They Live

Syndicators are digging deep into social media to strengthen the connection between their shows and their viewers, but they are also working closely with TV station affiliates on social-media applications to build those relationships at the local level.

“We see social media as an opportunity to extend our shows’ content locally, drive local tune-in and help our TV station partners monetize page views,” says Susan Kantor, executive VP, marketing, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution.

Likewise, at Sony Pictures Television, “The biggest idea is that we seek to forge a very strong bond between the consumer, The Dr. Oz Show and the stations on which viewers watch the show,” says Sheraton Kalouria, executive VP/chief marketing officer. “We look at that as being the three essential legs of the stool.”

Just as with traditional promos, syndicators are creating separate social-media assets for TV stations to use on Websites, Facebook pages and other social platforms. While TV stations are interested in extending their social-media presence, their personnel ranks have been so thinned in recent years that syndicators are attempting to make these new campaigns as turnkey as possible, including suggested tweets and Facebook posts in promotional materials.

For example, Warner Bros.’ Ellen connects with viewers on the local level by sending out tweets that encourage people to gather at a specific time and place and create a local event. The show then works with its local affiliate to cover that event, including it in the station’s local news.

“The local experience becomes national, which is pretty powerful,” Kantor says.

Sony’s Dr. Oz plays extensively on digital platforms, offering tips and advice to viewers.

“Every digital initiative we do with The Dr. OzShow, we do with the stations in mind,” Kalouria says. “We specifically create assets for our stations to leverage for their own Websites. We always serve up a local tune-in message so people know where to find Dr. Oz in their local market.”

Dr. Oz, CBS Television Distribution’ s The Doctors and others create “widgets”—mini-sites that include exclusive video and other content—that stations can add to their Websites and sell advertising around.

“Most stations are really looking for content that isn’t already part of the show—behind-thescenes exclusive video and other things that they can claim as their own and have exclusively on their Websites. From a publishing standpoint, that’s what we really try and do,” says Mike Mischler, executive VP of marketing for CBS Television Distribution.

For Twentieth Television, that includes creating hyper-localized promotions for its off-net sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother and Family Guy. When Family Guy changed time periods on Tribune’s WPIX, Twentieth created a quick-response (QR) code and plastered it on buses and billboards around Manhattan. People who scanned the code were taken to a site that featured clips from the show embedded with the new tune-in information.

Similarly, Twentieth promoted How I Met Your Mother by creating an interactive storefront across from Manhattan’s Penn Station where people could come up and type in their own “bro codes,” as constantly cited by Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) on the show. Those bro codes then posted immediately to Facebook pages and screens around the display.

“All of the studios have a long history of providing stations all the physical material they need to promote their shows,” says Richard DuMont, senior VP, marketing, Twentieth Television. “We are trying to use social media as a different way to connect with viewers.”

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