The following is a guest post from digital account executive Justin Tsang (@justinjtsang).

The Social TV movement has arrived. And it’s here to stay.

Don’t believe me? Well tune into your favorite Prime Time TV show this week and chances are that you’ll see at least one of the following things:

  • On-screen promotions of hashtags, Twitter handles and/or Facebook Pages
  • Promotions of network and show-specific second-screen apps
  • Contests or sweepstakes that incorporate some sort of social interaction

In fact, a recent study by Accenture found that 64 percent of consumers recall seeing social prompts on TV. Which means all of the above is actually sticking with viewers.

Still don’t believe me? Log into the App Store or Google Play, and take a peek the growing number of Social TV apps dedicated to allowing you to earn rewards, check in, access exclusive content and interact with your friends in real-time. This isn’t surprising, because according to Nielsen, 68 percent of tablet owners and 63 percent of smartphone users are on their devices multiple times a week while watching TV – a phenomenon known as the second screen.

And let’s not forget about Twitter, who recently embraced its role in Social TV. If you’re looking to put money on a trending-topic-to-be, look no further than the next big TV event.

Now that Social TV is here, what makes a solid second screen experience?


Being an avid TV watcher, Social TV enthusiast and strategist for a Social TV client, I’ve taken the time to dabble in as many second screen opportunities as possible. And to be truthful, my experiences have varied greatly – from “wow, this is really cool!” to “hmm, this is kind of pointless.”

Below are my five ingredients for a successful and sustainable second screen experience.

1. Seamlessness

Attention spans are short, and patience is even shorter. This describes the majority of people who are testing out new apps and social experiences. Second screen providers are not exempt from this and need to ensure that their app or platform runs near perfect – all the time. From an intuitive, quick-responding UI to easy, socially-infused functionality – the whole experience should be seamless. That or risk the chance of users jumping ship and not-so-kind reviews.

2. Engagement

Social TV and the second screen are commonly associated with the concept of the Digital Water Cooler. This is due to how conversations about TV no longer have to wait for the office. They’re happening in real-time and online instead. This is one of the most revolutionary aspects of the second screen, and in order for it to appeal to the eager-to-chat TV fanatics, second screen providers need one-tap integration, posting and sharing with existing social networks. Anything slower or more complicated will result in the missing out of conversations.

3. Incentives

Found the app? Check. Downloaded the app? Check. Tried the app? Check. Neglect the app? Check. Like any other mobile app, second screen experiences need mechanisms to keep its users coming back after the initial trial run. Whether it’s rewards (like stickers or gift cards) or exclusive content (like behind-the-scenes videos), a successful second screen experience needs compelling incentives to keep its users tuned in for the long haul.

4. Integration

One of the key differentiators for second screen providers is the depth of integration with the top shows on TV. It’s a difference-maker because of its power to attract scores of users that are passionate about the shows they watch. These fans crave new ways to enjoy and interact with their favorite shows, and a second screen provider that can deliver an integrated experience will surely win them over and keep them coming back for more.

5. Contagiousness

Does it have a wow-factor? Is the app cool and/or compelling enough to spur viral download recommendations both online and off? Well, I would argue that if it makes the grades in terms of seamlessness, engagement, incentives and integration, it has a pretty good shot. The bottom line is, if it doesn’t have the potential to grow and carry via word of mouth, it’ll likely share the same fate as many of this year’s new shows: cancellation.

What are your thoughts on the Social TV movement? What about the keys to a great second screen experience?

Image courtesy of pupismyname.

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