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Friday April 18, 2014

PluggedIn: Seconds Screens, Social TV and 4 Different Hashtags

Rich Ullman (foreground) and Eli Mandelbaum of PluggedIn Ventures Roundtable (photo: L. Keyson)

By Lauren Keyson

What are people actually doing with all these screens? The speakers at yesterday’s PluggedIn Ventures Roundtable agreed people are more experienced with social media. Twitter is hot because it’s real time and Facebook is good for sharing later. But the secondary effect of multiple screens and social TV sparked contrarian opinions about viewer engagement and what is actually happening on second screens while people are watching TV.  They think they combined media consumption of smart phones, tablets and computers translates into more television engagement. According to PluggedIn Ventures, studies show that upwards of 75 percent of TV viewers use other devices while watching.

The December Roundtable consisted of 14 founders, CEOs and digital executives from companies including GetGlue, Sonic Notify, TiVo, Univision, Ogilvy & Mather and NBC. They said Twitter is a big part of the social TV experience, but disagreed about its actual impact. Some said hashtags work to some extent, but that Twitter can never be the dominant second screen–there is always going be a certain block because it’s a new technology. Users have to learn @ retweet # — a new language that prevents a lot of people being in the social conversation.

Web programmers use four different programming-specific hashtags. Panelists didn’t think that users could understand which hashtag to use, how to use it and keep track of a real-time conversation while filtering their friends. Other panelists felt Twitter is a square peg in a round hole. People generally want to engage with social capital. But they questioned if is this the norm? And what can marketers now do to create greater engagement with and among the new age viewership?

Hashtags are the recognizable symbols of Twitter. There is no way to get a real life actual sample size of the audience that allows advertisers the ability to understand who is really out there — whether it’s time shifted or live in any sort of media–which is what advertisers want.  If Twitter users aren’t tweeting and are only reading the comment stream, they are still participating in social TV, but aren’t picked up by any analytic radar. There are many lurkers out there that just want to watch a Twitter feed – they never tweet, never use a hashtag, and are completely unaccounted for.

The group concluded that there must be some harmonious distribution through television.  The consumer chooses the experience they want—whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue or Viggle—and which ad is best and fits their social needs. What’s still missing is the ability to connect all those ads through TV.