The Oaks Ignore Their Pleas

The Grammys and the Digital Couch

Posted in General by Jeff Graves on January 27, 2014

For the first time in years, I watched the Grammy Awards last night…well, I watched the first 2 hours or so, anyhow.  While I’ve always been a music fan, I didn’t watch to see any one particular act.  What drew me into the show was the notion that I could watch the digital commentary on Twitter during the broadcast.  I was the only one in my household who wanted to watch the show, and so communing with a few million people online seemed like an interesting way to take in the show.  Looking back, I might have been more entertained by the running “MST3K-like” comments of the Twitterverse than I was by the scripted jokes of the presenters.

I know that the idea of combining social media, especially Twitter and big event broadcasting isn’t a new thing – Twitter has been focused on driving more engagement through TV for several years now, and has actually hired a number of really smart, interesting people to focus on exactly that.  For more, check out this Fast Company article on the whole thing.

I think there’s a ton of possibility in this model, although l’m not sure how that might translate into a viable business model for a digital property like Twitter (and they seem to be still trying to figure this out too). Whether you’re watching alone, as I was, or in a group, the idea of being able to sit around a “virtual couch” and share thoughts and experiences about a television event as it’s happening can make the broadcast itself far more engaging – just look at what happened to Sharknado.

Interestingly, I found myself continually scrolling through the Twitter stream, and sometimes not paying too much attention to the show itself, especially during the commercials.  This might be a problem for brands, who don’t need another way for people to check out of their commercials in the time-shifted, short attention span world we now live in.  While advertisers (hello, Pepsi) can buy tagged, sponsored tweets to try and catch people’s attention, I found them a bit annoying, to be honest,  Perhaps, though, it just takes the right KIND of engagement – rather than shilling the “Pepsi halftime show” (which was kind of a letdown, frankly), brands might be better served PARTICIPATING in the conversation.  At the end of the day, that’s what Twitter does really well – enable conversations among people with common interests, and conversations aren’t what most brands do well yet.

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