itv2-logoIn the my previous post, I spoke about a single aspect of my work process, and in future installments I’ll be looking at other areas where I speak to different audiences. However, by now I’m fairly sure that you’re all getting slightly tired of me
shouting about how great I am , so this time round I thought we’d
take a break and begin looking at some leading social professionals from
other industries.

Social media tools and initiatives are increasingly
widespread, but their use can vary dramatically from company to company, and while Econsultancy has an interesting business model, it’s also fairly unique. By looking at other industries I’m hoping we can uncover how the core principles of social media (Listen. Consider. Respond. – you hadn’t forgotten had you?) can be applied to different situations. 

A good social media manager needs to be highly adaptable, applying these
tenets to differing business models for a variety of reasons.

To kick things off, I
recently spoke to Tom Webster, Social Media Producer at ITV Digital
about how the broadcast media industry applies social media in
order to engage audiences and promote content on a variety of

How does ITV use social media?

How to answer that?  In lots of ways! In such a large company, spread over multiple platforms we’re trying to use social media to support our efforts across marketing, broadcast engagement and editorial.

It’s very hard to narrow down. From simply setting up a Facebook page for a new show, to forging good relations with bloggers, to optimising marketing campaigns to best utilise the social web. ITV is using social media throughout the company.

Which social media channels have you found to be most effective?

the-only-way-is-essexAgain – hard to answer. It really depends on what we are trying to achieve.

We’ve found Facebook is great at creating a community around a show, and keeping the buzz alive between episodes.

Take our ‘The Only Way Is Essex’ Facebook page. Essex has been on air for less than a month, but already the page is a hive of activity, and not just when the show is on.

Thanks to the great work being done by the ‘Essex Insider’ fans of the show can connect to the stars on a daily basis.

We’ve found Twitter is excellent at brand building.

ITV2 is constantly striving towards creating a consistent brand image and maintaining that image though our various outlets, whether this is creative continuity, offline marketing efforts or indeed social media.

Creating a Twitter account that lives up to our brand image and maintains a tone of voice that reflects it 24/7 is great for this. The fact that @ITV2 has picked up over 10,000 followers over the last two months is testament to how well this works.

Are you having direct conversations with viewers?

Yes, we talk to our viewers daily.

We try especially to join the conversation when our key shows are broadcast. We try not to be aloof but be a fan and be excited by the action on TV.

We can’t answer every question however. For example we cannot release the exact transmission dates of certain shows, as our schedules are a closely guarded secret to ensure rival channels don’t schedule against us. This can lead to a deluge of questions you cannot answer, and of course some people just enjoy hating our shows. We walk a fine line between responding to relevant comments and trying not to inflame angry trolls!

We’ve also brought the online conversation onscreen with comments from social channels being used on shows like The Xtra Factor, and thanks to our excellent creative continuity team we are now highlighting the best comments between programs in voiceover.

It gives our viewers a real sense that they are being listened to and our social efforts and what you see on screen aren’t separate entities.

How do you manage your social media presence?

It’s managed by myself, handling digital channels, Ben, who handles ITV1 and also external production companies.

Certain production companies are fantastic at engaging with their audience. Certain shows have very well managed social profiles, which are great for driving engagement. Because they are far closer to the production of the show than we can be, they can offer fans and followers valuable insight into the show.

Where does social media sit within the organisation?

Social media sits everywhere! Literally!

At present I can base myself within around four physical locations within the buildings depending on what I’m doing and who I’m doing it with. And this is true within my role.

Unflatteringly, I’ve been called a ‘floater.’ I prefer to think of myself as a ‘gun for hire’ – It just sounds better. As social media touches pretty much everything, I’m everywhere.

What are the challenges when using social media around broadcasting? Do you see other broadcasters doing more in this area?

We’ve got plenty of challenges. Understanding what the audience is saying about a show when the conversation moves so quickly is one, and making sure that we have good relations with key influencers is a big one.

Actually, becoming a key influencer in our social spaces is another. Maintaining and growing our audience not just online, but on TV and on social channels is tough due to the many other options our audience has.

This is particularly true for  ITV2, who have a young audience who are a massive target market not only for TV, but gaming and other online channels.

Finally, can you talk us through your typical day?

Sure. I usually come in for about 10.00, but social media is a 24 hour business, so the ability to work from anywhere means my hours are pretty inconsistent. As long as I’ve got my phone on me, I can be at work.

I usually start by checking Google alerts based on key terms around our shows and brands. It’s good to know what the wider internet is saying about our shows and make sure I haven’t missed anything.

I also like to start the day by checking Reddit so I know what’s happening online and I’m sure I’m ahead of the curve when it comes to knowing what the latest memes and internet phenomenon are.

I’ll go through our pages on social channels and update them all. Sometimes this means linking to a show on the ITV Player for anyone who has missed an episode, or replying to questions or simply taking part in a discussion about the weather.

I’m quite often in meeting with other parts of the company so we have our strategy around a new show all on the same page.

This means that Channels, publicity scheduling, marketing, the website guys, production and myself get together to coordinate what will happen. This gives me a good chance to make sure we cross promote everything to the best of our ability and grab the production assets I need to best promote the show through our social channels.

I may spend the afternoon setting up new social pages for a show, watching a new commission so I know what I’m talking about, setting up a new project with a new supplier or simply doing some more talking!

Into the evening, where our big shows sit, I often find myself livetweeting for an hour or so per night. I can’t do this every night, but our fans love commenting on a show while it’s on so we do try to join in.

We try to form bonds with the fan communities while we do this so they know that we are not just a channel, but a fan too. I try to be as funny as possible, and make sure I’m worth following.

Often a single comment during a show can get around 100+ retweets.

We’ve brought the live commenting into continuity as well, so as well as livetweeting a show I’ll be looking for the funniest and most insightful comments and getting them to our continuity team so they can be read on air. I’ll often do this from transmission so the continuity team and I are fully coordinated.