Monday, September 19, 2011

How Discovery Channel Uses Social Media

Discovery Channel image from Bobby Owsinski's Music 3.0 blog
Here's part of a great article posted on Mashable regarding how the Discovery Channel uses social media. There are a couple of points here worth noting.

First, the 4 goals of the network in regards to their social media strategy. Everyone who uses social media for business (hopefully your music is a business) needs to have a reason, and Discovery is very clear on theirs, although they're not that different from most company's goals.

The second is the fact that the company divides their social media group into two teams: an “art” side and a “science” side. I truly believe that this is an important message for anyone who hires outside help in their social endeavors. You can't depend upon the "science" team to do it for you. You've got to drive the bus and create the content, then let your web and social people do what they.

Here's a portion of the article. To read the entire article, go here.
"Though the network launched Facebook Pages in early 2009, it’s only in the last 12 to 18 months that efforts on social platforms have been “as focused and deliberate as they are now.” Discovery is the number one non-fiction media company in the world and has a large base of obsessed fans, so the network is constantly incorporating social media as part of the overall strategy. “It’s part of everything we do, from our .com pages to our marketing plans,” Weiswasser says. “Our philosophy on social media is to use it as a platform that enhances the viewing experience and the relationship with the viewers.” She goes on to outline the social media team’s four primary goals:
  • Build relationships and engage with fans
  • Personalize the brand
  • Strengthen fan-talent relations
  • Drive tune-in
In addition to running 24 hours of programming on several channels — the Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and more — the network produces a breadth of content for the web, including individual show pages, network pages, vertical pages and blogs. Discovery owns more than 70 Facebook Pages, with a footprint approaching 43 million fans — and getting 500,000 more each week — while its 120 Twitter accounts boast 2.4 million followers. As for that inevitable ROI question, Weiswasser says, “It’s hard to deny the value of such a huge group of fans, and its hard to deny the influence of all these people who have raised their hands and said, ‘I’m interested, I’m a fan.’” The fans’ enthusiasm on social has encouraged and fostered a very direct connection between the shows and the audience.

That enthusiasm is driven by an an exciting mix of content. Since Discovery produces TV content, it’s not surprising that video is expertly-produced and resonates very well with the fans. Other content includes blog post, sneak peeks, photos from the set, personal pics from a show’s talent and links that are related to a show’s premise (i.e. geology, cooking, etc.). You’ll notice that many of the links on Facebook and Twitter go to original content on — the network is good at integrating and promoting its content and not treating each platform as a distinct entity, but rather as one unit with many parts that build on and enhance the others.

But Discovery also excels at posting relevant content from all over the web, which keeps the conversation going. On the What Not To Wear Page, you’ll find links to articles about fall fashion trends, and you’ll find recipes on the DC Cupcakes Page.”We serve as a curator of topics for our fans,” says Weiswasser. “Content may not have anything to do with the show, but it is relevant to our viewers.”

The overall goal is to have the best content they can — they want people coming back because the content is interesting and engaging. Weiswasser says the Discovery team wants to make content as accessible as possible and doesn’t believe in like-gating. “We want the content to speak for itself,” she says. “If it’s compelling, people will want it — that’s how we got this footprint.”

The Discovery social media team is divided into two groups — an “art” side and a “science” side. The art side is part of corporate communications and handles content and tone, focusing on engagement and interaction with fans. Basically, they deal with the words and use the social web as a focus group from which they get real-time feedback. The science side is in the digital group, and that team focuses on analytics and metrics (fans, clicks, tweets, retweets, mentions, comments), optimizing pages to drive traffic to Discovery’s web properties. Crenshaw says his team is trying to do what all media companies are attempting — to determine the correlation between ratings and social. But sometimes it’s not just about metrics –”We can tell anecdotally if social is serving its purpose,” Crenshaw says. “We’ll post about a show, and someone will say, ‘Oh I didn’t know this was on tonight,’ or they’ll tweet asking what show to watch and we’ll tell them ‘MythBusters.’” The digital team also uses social media to identify and prevent crises, which can bubble up through Twitter and Facebook and be addressed and quelled before they become major blunders."
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