Will Hashtags Help Facebook In The Social TV War?
I’ve written a lot here about the intersection between social platforms and TV, and as these markets continue to evolve, there are still a lot of interesting things happening in both. A couple of things happened recently that probably highlight where social TV is heading, suggesting some of the things that marketers should be thinking about in order to make the best use of both.
At the back end of last month, following the NewFronts (where digital media owners look to replicate the scale and success of the TV upfronts), Twitter made two important announcements. The first of these was the extension of their Twitter Amplify product to include a raft of new partners.
These partnerships enable Twitter to provide video content with associated pre-roll advertising (see example below). Twitter now has a pretty impressive suite of broadcast partners to provide professional content to go alongside the (currently un-monetised) user-generated content of Vine.
— NBA (@NBA) May 19, 2013
At the same time, Twitter also unveiled the fruits of their purchase of analytics company BlueFin, with a new capability to target users of Twitter based on what TV shows they are watching; as people increasingly use PVRs to skip TV ads, this could very well prove to be the feather in Twitter’s cap. By positioning itself as a component of TV ad budgets rather than a contender for them, Twitter has a very good chance of becoming an essential second string to many big brand media plans.
Hashtags On Facebook
In the post announcing the launch of Amplify, Twitter also mentioned some interesting statistics: 50% of the ads shown during the last Superbowl included a hashtag, and 95% of “live TV conversation” supposedly takes place on Twitter. It now seems like Facebook may have read the same stats and would like a piece of that action. Its rollout of the hashtag functionality shows that it has now become an almost universally understood way to allow people to connect with content and conversations.
Whilst a great deal of TV conversation undoubtedly happens on Facebook, much of it will be disconnected, happening either on pages or in news feeds. Facebook obviously wants to start collecting this activity, presumably so that it can target TV advertisers in a similar manner to the way Twitter has started to do.
Whether it can do so remains to be seen, with some suggesting that the hashtag isn’t suited to Facebook’s structure or design. Whilst Greg Finn’s point about the privacy issue is a valid one (it’s presumably why Twitter can claim to have 95% of live, i.e., open, conversation), many of the other complaints assume that people are using Open Graph search or that TV conversations are limited to hard-core fans who are likely to have connected with a Page.
Will Hashtag Branding Work For Facebook?
The humble hashtag, popularised by early users of Twitter, has created a way for brands to highlight that extra content, and conversations are available, and users understand this. Facebook’s adoption of the form is, in many ways, quite a coup for Twitter.
Whilst it’s too early to say whether hashtags will work on Facebook, all of these moves do suggest that any further advancement in this area is likely to be driven by these two behemoths. The much heralded social TV apps, whether network-owned or start-up, are surely going to struggle to compete with the scale and resources of Facebook and Twitter.
As TV audiences continue to splinter and diversify, it’s more and more important that the conversations around those different channels can be unified and easily accessed; people simply don’t have enough time to engage with different apps for different channels or shows, unless they are absolutely dedicated fans.
For the average viewer, being able to connect with a wide range of friends and like-minded individuals around a particular event or programme is going to be the most important thing. With the same rule applying to advertisers, Twitter’s recent announcements would appear to put it ahead of the game in the world of social TV.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.