There’s no chance on having a decent conversation in my living room on a Friday night anymore. How about yours?
Some people may blame the 42-inch plasma that’s sitting in the corner flashing its seductive images in our direction, calling our imaginations forward through its portal into another world. But I’m not sure I blame “the TV” for our lack of familial interaction.
Perhaps I should blame that pesky little second screen in my lap; the iPad or the smartphone that’s constantly flashing its little green light in my direction reminding me that there are lonely others out there, in living rooms across the globe seeking some kind of human interaction on the social networks. It’s a hard screen to resist especially when it’s offering me the opportunity to connect with others and share thoughts about shows on TV.
THE FIRST AND SECOND SCREEN ARE CO-CONSPIRATORS
Of course our televisions are not actually at war with the second screens in our laps; they are not actually fighting against each other to capture our attention. They are actually working together as a conduit to knock down our living room walls and turn our discrete little family watching TV experience into a social event for a whole village of television fans.
Together they are turning our passive, rather dull television watching experience into a more social and interactive joy; there actually is a conversation about the shows on television taking place, it’s just not happening within the confines of your living room anymore. I’m talking about the rapid rise of social television.
HOW SOCIAL TV WORKS
Social TV enables you to talk about and interact with the content that is on that screen in the corner of your living room. A simple example of this is NBC’s American Idol and the way in which a viewer can vote for their favorite singer as they sit on their couch at home. You’re involved, your vote matters, you’re joining with others and actively affecting the “story” of the show. You can now broadcast your thoughts and feelings to others while watching your favorite TV show online. That’s what social television is all about.
The second screen on your lap is merely the electronic device that connects you with your social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Get Glue etc) to facilitate both your connection to others and your interactivity with the television content. We can now connect with anyone, anywhere at anytime. Suddenly watching TV at home doesn’t feel so lonely anymore.
HOW SECOND SCREEN APPS CAN GET YOU INVOLVED IN SOCIAL TV
Television networks are now actively encouraging your participation on the second screen. They want to facilitate and stimulate a global viral conversation about their show. The TV networks are creating second screen applications designed around television shows. These apps often contain extra content including behind the scenes footage, show commentaries, interviews with stars, and more. The content enriches the television watching experience for the real fan, allowing them to delve more deeply into the show. You can interact with this content, share it, comment on it, or tweet about it. The content is there to help stimulate more social activity around the show.
Twitter: This is a particularly useful web-based tool that can facilitate real-time conversations with other fans. You can now watch the live twitter feed and the show simultaneously, reading tweets from other fans and also sometimes from the show’s stars.
Howard Stern used twitter magnificently when he tweeted a live director’s commentary while his film “Private Parts“ played on HBO. On a show like “X-factor” your tweets can be used as social commentary on the show itself, where the host will often share tweets from fans throughout the episode. Then there are the tweets from the people on the show that appear on the TV screen while a show is airing. This is the case with Storage Wars where the people bidding on storage units on the show are tweeting commentary about what is happening during an auction, and those tweets appear on the TV while the show is airing.
Facebook: Arguably, the most popular social network in the world, Facebook is a massive conduit for social sharing. Facebook sharing is built into the second screen apps of just about every television network show. Many TV shows are also using the “Facebook Fan Page” as a satellite portal to host additional content for fan sharing. Take NBC’s The Voice, which created Fan Pages for each of the finalists, so you could show support for your favorite contestants, watch extra video content, and even receive personal messages from the finalists.
GetGlue: This is solely an application for the second screen focused on entertainment that’s all about checking-in and sharing what you like. It’s a social network that is currently enjoying exponential growth. There were over 2 million users added in 2011. On GetGlue, you “check-in” when you start watching your favorite television show. You can comment and interact with others who are also checked-in. GetGlue is socially integrated with Twitter and Facebook.
THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL TELEVISION
Whether you like it or not there are many who believe the future of television is social. One reason they believe this is the desire people have to connect with others has been greater than the desire for entertainment. In many ways, we have always wanted our entertainment to be a social experience; it’s why we go to see movies with friends and why we invite buddies over to watch ball games.
Tell us how you like to use your second screen while watching television? Which second screen apps are you using?