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Social TV Fans Driven By Desire To Keep Shows On The Air: Survey

Viewers Believe They Can Influence TV Business, According to Poll

By Todd Spangler — Multichannel News, 4/3/2012 3:19:30 PM EDT

The top reason TV viewers cite for engaging with Twitter, Facebook and other social media is to prevent their favorite shows from getting canceled, according to a recent survey by

In a March 2012 online survey, 76% of respondents said keeping their favorite shows on the air was their main motivation for social activity, up from 66% on a survey last year. Telling friends which shows they watch was the No. 1 reason a year ago at 77%, dropping to 61% in the 2012 survey.

The results indicate that “fans believe they have the power to influence the business of TV,” general manager Christy Tanner said in prepared remarks. She was scheduled to present the survey findings at the Social TV Summit in San Francisco Tuesday.

Major live TV events also are a big driver: 69% of respondents said they participated in social activity to see what others were saying about an event like the Super Bowl or the Grammy Awards, while 33% of respondents said they wanted to say something about the event.

Of those who participate in social TV activity, 95% said they do so after watching a show — up from 68% last year — while 40% participate during a show (up from 33%) and 53% before a show (up from 52%).’s social TV research was based on seven surveys in February and March 2012, with between 1,800 and 3,500 participants per survey. The definition of social activity in the survey included a broad variety of social actions, including posts, status updates, check-ins and comments on social networks, fan sites, official network sites and entertainment sites and apps. — as well as TV Guide Network and the TV Guide brand — are part of a joint venture owned by Lionsgate and One Equity Partners, the private equity firm of JPMorgan Chase. has more than 24 million monthly unique users, who have created 500,000 social watch-lists on the site and entered 7 million TV check-ins.


What does a UX Strategist do anyway?

Having just made the jump to full-time freelancing, I’ve been confronted recurring question: “What exactly do you do?”

I’ve primarily been focused on my existing clients, but am starting to get a number of new requests to work together; so I wanted to tell everyone what it is I do – and how you can start working with me.

There are three primary ways I’m engaged:

1. True Consulting: I have built several relationships with global marketers using this method. The marketer, or agency, hires me to review materials & provide an opinion on how to proceed based on experience, research, stakeholder interviews etc. I’ve generally begin a relationship consulting on an ad-hoc basis, invoicing the client on a project basis. I’ve recently been retained by a couple clients who wanted the flexibility to engage me anytime, on multiple projects, by paying for a number of yearly hours upfront.

2. Integrated Project Consulting: I’ve worked with several marketers & agencies in this method. This normally happens when the marketer, or agency, has a process & a team assembled, but is missing an element. I’m normally engaged to fill a missing strategic roll or to fill a missing user experience roll. I prefer to use this method, it allows me to engage with the team early, and stay engaged throughout the project. Getting the opportunity to review design & final development allows me to ensure the interpretation of strategy or UX doesn’t compromise any elements.

3. Document-Only Consulting: This is a low-impact, easy way to engage with me. The document-only method is generally used by marketers or agencies who have a very specific need on a project. For instance, if a marketer needs a second opinion on a set of wireframes, or social media governance document, he will engage me to create that specific document. I’ve also been engaged by agencies to simply create a site map, or conduct a forensic audit of an existing site. This is generally not the best method, unless we’ve done work in the past and I’m familiar with the client.

That said, I have been asked about what types of documents I generally create throughout a project. Although every project is different, and may require customizations, here are some documents I’m engaged to create often:

**Note: If you’re not sure which of these documents to use, or when to use them, skip this section.**

Strategic Models: Modelling is a visual way of strategic planning. Models without the right background research, context, or explanation can be good visual aids, but are poor investments. The point of modelling is to show why a strategy works, why some strategic elements were selected & others excluded. Complicated strategies may be governed by several models.

Strategic Road mapping: Mapping out a high-level strategic roadmap & detailed campaign-based roadmaps help avoid misunderstandings between stakeholders, and allow teams to have a unified view of upcoming activities.

User Personas: I was engaged by the Ontario government to create one of the largest sets of user personas I’ve ever created. It was 8 months in the making, and involved a 15 person team performing a month-long ethnographic study. Most persona development doesn’t take that long, but it is a substantial investment that pays off over time. Understanding who your users are, and what they want, allows you to customize your campaigns, strategies, and offerings to speak to the most interested audience at the most relevant time.

Mental Models: I generally like one-page mental models to identify gaps, opportunities, and cognitive processes. Creating mental models are useful throughout the project in multiple ways, from focusing creativity, to managing scope. If feature-creep begins to happen, the mental model can be used to eliminate irrelevant features.

eCRM Strategies: A strategy generally pulls together several documents into one cohesive deck. I have my own style & template for a eCRM deck, but can adapt it to match your internal style if required. An eCRM strategy is somewhat complex in the sense it deals with multiple platforms, content strategy, communications strategy, social media strategy, and data segmentation. That said, everyone has to start somewhere – if you don’t have an eCRM strategy, it’s time to get one ready. Even if it’s a 3 or 5 year plan, it’s better to be working toward a goal than not to have a goal to work toward.

Social Media Strategies: This is another strategic deck (see eCRM Strategies) that I can customize to match your internal template. This is a document where I’ll make recommendations on content, moderation, community management, platform selection, monitoring guidelines, integration opportunites etc.

Experience Maps: Is a broad term that refers to swim-lane-like documents that map out a unique campaign experience, platform experience, or an entire customer experience. This can be mapped back to business objectives, or to a mental model.

Site Maps/ IA’s: A good first step in any digital project is to create an information architecture or site map. This visually shows the parent-child-sibling relationships, as well as being an overview of all pages. In addition to standard labelling, site redesigns may append template letters to the site map which will indicate which template governs each page.

Navigation Design: It’s somewhat rare to be asked to do a navigation design without being engaged to do the entire site redesign, however it’s happened before. In this document, I propose a new or enhanced navigational system & structure. This might involve re-categorization, but might not. I’ll show how parent-child relationships are shown, where user-feedback is required, and how navigational buttons behave.

Forensic Audits/ Content Inventories: This is a must-have document for all site re-designs. If I’m being engaged to do a re-categorization, or any part of a site redesign, I will complete a forensic audit of the existing site (if one isn’t provided) & will deliver a content inventory of the proposed solution. This will generally be delivered as an Excel document, unless otherwise specified.

Wireframes/ Prototypes: There are many different programs & methods of creating wireframes & prototypes. Unless otherwise specified, I tend to either use Omnigraffle or Axure to create these. I have my own style, but can adapt it to mimic your internal style. I prefer to go through two rounds of wireframing, a preliminary-draft round and a detailed round. Sometimes these are delivered with additional supporting documents like a site-map, user flows, user stories, or a functional specification.

User Testing: User testing is always a good idea on every project. At least one round of user testing should be performed prior to handing off prototypes to design. Ideally, a second round of user testing will be performed after implementation; with a focus on iterative improvements. MVT should be an ongoing process in addition to qualitative user tests.

Re-categorization/ Card-sorting: When users are having a hard time finding what they’re looking for, you might need to re-examine your sites taxonomy. For smaller sites, this can be an easy exercise, but can be much bigger for e-commerce or informationally-heavy sites.


For those of you who are confused about these documents, don’t worry; there’s an easy way to figure out what you need. Ask me.

Again, these are just some of the most common documents. These certainly don’t speak to all the methods & documents I use to help define goals & objectives, or the documents I can create to help project teams document requirements.

Mixing and Matching

I know that deciding to hire a consultant can be challenging. No one wants to introduce an unknown element to a team dynamic. Although I’m generally a great team-member, there are certain atmospheres that I work better in. Setting up an initial interview is always a good way to begin to get to know each other.

I’m easy with regards to meeting in person, over the phone, or via email. An interview will give me the ability to find out what your goals are, what your customers goals are, and how I can help. It’ll also give you the opportunity to get to know me better.

I’m often engaged to perform a mashup of responsibilities. For instance, a number of clients engaged me for true consulting on an organizational level & document-only consulting on a couple projects. This worked out well. It allowed me to stay involved at a high-level on all ongoing projects, and allowed me to lead the UX design for the intranet-redesign.



One of best-known (and least shy) creatives from the golden age of advertising, George Lois, offers some tips from his latest book, Damn Good Advice.


Handsome creative director Don Draper will try to power through sex, alcohol, and a dark past to craft a new set of 1960s-era ad campaigns when Mad Men returns for its fifth season Sunday on AMC (9 / 8 Central).
George Lois won’t be watching.
He’s the real-life ad man who emerged in the ’60s to create a storied body of branding and magazine work. Lois conjured the “I want my MTV” slogan, invented the Lean Cuisine concept (and took credit for a few more classic ads like Volkswagen’s “Think Small,” though his DDB colleague Julian Koenig disputes that) and, as the well-worn story goes, believed in his concepts so fervently that he once threatened to jump off a third-floor window ledge when executives rejected his matzo cracker campaign.
Dismissing Mad Men as “soap opera,” the 81-year-old graphic designer/art director/copywriter spoke to Co.Create about his new book Damn Good Advice, which compiles 120 creativity tips geared towards the production of “big ideas.”


“If a client takes ten minutes to tells me about his business, then it’s not a big idea,” Lois says. “Advice” cites Abraham Lincoln’s apology for writing a long letter because ‘I didn’t have time to write a short one.’ Condense the concept, because, Lois writes “After three sentences of explanation, people’s eyes glaze over.”
Case Study: Lois yoked celebrity and a call to action with four words that transformed a upstart cable network into a national powerhouse. “I want my MTV” became a generational battle cry after Lois, a pioneer in exploiting celebrity cachet, persuaded Mick Jagger to appear in a TV commercial delivering the line.


Lois says, “When people talk to you about their business and you listen hard, there’s a good chance they’ll say something and you go ‘Son of a bitch, that’s it!’ Then when you show your idea to the guy, he doesn’t even know he gave it to you.”
Case study: Then-unknown Tommy Hilfiger became famous in two days when Lois included his initials on a billboard in Manhattan’s fashion district trumpeting four great American designers: Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, and Perry Ellis. “Talking to Tommy, I asked about the clothes, which he wanted them to be very American, so I said, ‘You want to be another Ralph Lauren or Calvin Klein?’ He said, ‘Sure I want to be another one of those guys.’ Bingo! That’s my campaign.”


“When I teach classes at the School of Visual Arts I’ll ask the students ‘How many of you have been to a museum this year?’ Nobody raises their hand and I go into a tirade,” Lois says. “If you want to do something sharp and innovative, you have to know what went on before.” He states in the book, “Museums are custodians of epiphanies, and these epiphanies enter the central nervous system and deep recesses of the mind.”
Case Study: Lois used Piero del Pollaiuolo’s painting “The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian” as the model for his iconic Esquire Magazine cover depicting pacifist boxer Muhammad Ali as the target of government persecution.


After convincing a now-famous copier company to shorten its name from Haloid-Xerox (see lesson No. 1) Lois shot a TV commercial showing a toddler making photocopies. When the FCC objected that the ad misrepresented the machine’s ease of use, Lois shot a new commercial showing a chimpanzee making photocopies. He invited FCC staffers to attend the shoot. The spots became a sensation.


When it comes to pulling concepts out of thin air, “It’s about understanding what the hell’s going on around you,” says Lois, who spends an hour each morning poring through the New York Times.
Case study: Stouffers seemed oblivious to a huge trend. “This was the beginning of people exercising, and more women were working, so I told them, ‘Duh, you should come up with a diet gourmet thing.’ But they give me some mumbo jumbo. I realized the only way to convince these guys to come up with a brand name that knocks them on their ass.” Hence, the birth of Lean Cuisine.


“Ad agencies do all kinds of market research that ask people what they think they want, and instead you should be creating things that you want. If you do something and you get it, the rest of the world will get it. too. Trust your own instincts, your own intellect, and your own sense of humor.”
Case Study: After restaurant critic Gale Green slammed one of Lois’ clients, he took out a subtly snarky full-page ad that never would have gotten approved by focus groups. Centered on a one-sentence note that read: “Dear Ms. Greene. After all the lovely meals we’ve had together–Restaurant Associates.” Readers picked up on the subtext and began flocking to the Four Seasons.


Lois believes in “writing the idea” rather than trawling randomly for visual inspiration. “Start with the word,” he states in Advice. “A big campaign can only be expressed in words that lend themselves to visual excitement.”
Case study: For Braniff Airlines, Lois’s jaunty “When you got it, flaunt it” line came first. Only then did he illustrate the concept by photographing Andy Warhol alongside boxer Sonny Liston.

See some of Lois’ work in the slide show above.



Why I left Google

Ok, I relent. Everyone wants to know why I left and answering individually isn’t scaling so here it is, laid out in its long form. Read a little (I get to the punch line in the 3rd paragraph) or read it all. But a warning in advance: there is no drama here, no tell-all, no former colleagues bashed and nothing more than you couldn’t already surmise from what’s happening in the press these days surrounding Google and its attitudes toward user privacy and software developers. This is simply a more personal telling.

It wasn’t an easy decision to leave Google. During my time there I became fairly passionate about the company. I keynoted four Google Developer Day events, two Google Test Automation Conferences and was a prolific contributor to the Google testing blog. Recruiters often asked me to help sell high priority candidates on the company. No one had to ask me twice to promote Google and no one was more surprised than me when I could no longer do so. In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back.

The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.

Technically I suppose Google has always been an advertising company, but for the better part of the last three years, it didn’t feel like one. Google was an ad company only in the sense that a good TV show is an ad company: having great content attracts advertisers.

Under Eric Schmidt ads were always in the background. Google was run like an innovation factory, empowering employees to be entrepreneurial through founder’s awards, peer bonuses and 20% time. Our advertising revenue gave us the headroom to think, innovate and create. Forums like App Engine, Google Labs and open source served as staging grounds for our inventions. The fact that all this was paid for by a cash machine stuffed full of advertising loot was lost on most of us. Maybe the engineers who actually worked on ads felt it, but the rest of us were convinced that Google was a technology company first and foremost; a company that hired smart people and placed a big bet on their ability to innovate.

From this innovation machine came strategically important products like Gmail and Chrome, products that were the result of entrepreneurship at the lowest levels of the company. Of course, such runaway innovative spirit creates some duds, and Google has had their share of those, but Google has always known how to fail fast and learn from it.

In such an environment you don’t have to be part of some executive’s inner circle to succeed. You don’t have to get lucky and land on a sexy project to have a great career. Anyone with ideas or the skills to contribute could get involved. I had any number of opportunities to leave Google during this period, but it was hard to imagine a better place to work.

But that was then, as the saying goes, and this is now.

It turns out that there was one place where the Google innovation machine faltered and that one place mattered a lot: competing with Facebook. Informal efforts produced a couple of antisocial dogs in Wave and Buzz. Orkut never caught on outside Brazil. Like the proverbial hare confident enough in its lead to risk a brief nap, Google awoke from its social dreaming to find its front runner status in ads threatened.

Google could still put ads in front of more people than Facebook, but Facebook knows so much more about those people. Advertisers and publishers cherish this kind of personal information, so much so that they are willing to put the Facebook brand before their own. Exhibit A:, a company with the power and clout of Nike putting their own brand after Facebook’s? No company has ever done that for Google and Google took it personally.

Larry Page himself assumed command to right this wrong. Social became state-owned, a corporate mandate called Google+. It was an ominous name invoking the feeling that Google alone wasn’t enough. Search had to be social. Android had to be social. You Tube, once joyous in their independence, had to be … well, you get the point. Even worse was that innovation had to be social. Ideas that failed to put Google+ at the center of the universe were a distraction.

Suddenly, 20% meant half-assed. Google Labs was shut down. App Engine fees were raised. APIs that had been free for years were deprecated or provided for a fee. As the trappings of entrepreneurship were dismantled, derisive talk of the “old Google” and its feeble attempts at competing with Facebook surfaced to justify a “new Google” that promised “more wood behind fewer arrows.”

The days of old Google hiring smart people and empowering them to invent the future was gone. The new Google knew beyond doubt what the future should look like. Employees had gotten it wrong and corporate intervention would set it right again.

Officially, Google declared that “sharing is broken on the web” and nothing but the full force of our collective minds around Google+ could fix it. You have to admire a company willing to sacrifice sacred cows and rally its talent behind a threat to its business. Had Google been right, the effort would have been heroic and clearly many of us wanted to be part of that outcome. I bought into it. I worked on Google+ as a development director and shipped a bunch of code. But the world never changed; sharing never changed. It’s arguable that we made Facebook better, but all I had to show for it was higher review scores.

As it turned out, sharing was not broken. Sharing was working fine and dandy, Google just wasn’t part of it. People were sharing all around us and seemed quite happy. A user exodus from Facebook never materialized. I couldn’t even get my own teenage daughter to look at Google+ twice, “social isn’t a product,” she told me after I gave her a demo, “social is people and the people are on Facebook.” Google was the rich kid who, after having discovered he wasn’t invited to the party, built his own party in retaliation. The fact that no one came to Google’s party became the elephant in the room.

Google+ and me, we were simply never meant to be. Truth is I’ve never been much on advertising. I don’t click on ads. When Gmail displays ads based on things I type into my email message it creeps me out. I don’t want my search results to contain the rants of Google+ posters (or Facebook’s or Twitter’s for that matter). When I search for “London pub walks” I want better than the sponsored suggestion to “Buy a London pub walk at Wal-Mart.”

The old Google made a fortune on ads because they had good content. It was like TV used to be: make the best show and you get the most ad revenue from commercials. The new Google seems more focused on the commercials themselves.

Perhaps Google is right. Perhaps the future lies in learning as much about people’s personal lives as possible. Perhaps Google is a better judge of when I should call my mom and that my life would be better if I shopped that Nordstrom sale. Perhaps if they nag me enough about all that open time on my calendar I’ll work out more often. Perhaps if they offer an ad for a divorce lawyer because I am writing an email about my 14 year old son breaking up with his girlfriend I’ll appreciate that ad enough to end my own marriage. Or perhaps I’ll figure all this stuff out on my own.

The old Google was a great place to work. The new one?

3 Strategies to Boost Your Business With Social Media

Olivier Lasry worked for 3 years in financial services at Ernst & Young.  Passionate about the new technology industry and its disruptive forces, Olivier then created Wingsplay, the first viral video advertising network ever, which connects influential social media users with the best viral video advertisers.



We sometimes forget people were social beforesocial media came along.  To understand social media and the structure of social networks, we must think of relationships as independent of technology.

With that in mind, here’s how to achieve 3 key marketing objectives, based on the way people actually use social media.

1- Drive Awareness

 Driving awareness requires you to reach as many relevant users as possible.  Users may have strong ties to only a handful of their connections, but social media has considerably increased the reach of individual users – people have 140 connections on average, up from about 100 a year ago.

Users may not always value purchasing advice from every single one of their connections, but if friends share content, people are most likely to see it.  And if the content is appealing, users are most likely to click it. This applies especially to videos.

A great way to drive awareness is to create videos that people want to share.  Sharing content on Facebook or Twitter does not always feel as instinctive as liking or commenting, so the video must be compelling.

The most relevant users to seed your videos are the ones who generate the most engagement in Facebook and Twitter. These are usually the long tail of every-day users, because they know their connections personally.  This is what we focus on at Wingsplaythe startup I founded, and so far the results have been impressive.

2- Generate Sales

Generating sales requires that you tap into a much different social network structure.

As Paul Adams, Global Brand Experience Manager at Facebook, points out, people talk to the same 5 – 10 people 80 percent of the time.  People are tightly connected to five small groups, on average, with which they share a common interest or affinity.

Influence can be so strong between these few connections that it can actually generate sales.  To generate sales in social media, create very exclusive offers rather than trying to reach the masses.  This way, users are incentivized to share them with their most relevant and trusted connections.  Doing so will maximize your sales.

3- Increase Loyalty

 Increasing loyalty is another very valuable way to leverage social media.

Promote your Facebook page and Twitter account wherever you have access to your customers.  Then, provide these customers with engaging content that will start a conversation between your customers, their friends and your brand.

Since the objective here is to start a conversation, this content should be more about your customers than about you.

Getting your customers to engage with your content is crucial.  It will deepen your relationship with them and increase their loyalty.  It will also turn your customers into your best advocates and your most valuable assets in social media.

In short, social media can help you achieve key marketing objectives with unprecedented results.  But you should not try to apply old-media strategies to social media.  Instead, brands should see themselves as regular social media users, and provide valuable input to start conversations around their content.  Ultimately, this will help you boost sales.

Only 2 Ways to Watch TV

The Only Two Ways People Watch TV

March 2nd, 2012 by Jeremy Toeman

Over the past 30 years we’ve evolved the television experience from something where everybody watched the same shows on the same channels on the same devices in the same rooms at the same time to a world where that’s almost never the case.  Today, with the exception of appointment TV, it’s such a fragmented landscape that it’s almost a challenge to find other people watching the same stuff you do.  But with all the variance in content, services, devices, location, price, etc, there’s still really only two ways people choose to watch TV.  This is a subtle, but extremely important concept to anyone in the business of changing television.

Deliberate viewing: you go to the TV with a specific piece of content in mind.  This includes live TV (“let’s watch Idol at 8pm tonight”), your DVR (“I need to watch last night’s 30 Rock”), and any VOD/OTT platform such as Comcast OnDemand, Netflix, Hulu, etc (“I’m going to watch the first season of Breaking Bad”).  We could also include a deliberate type of content in this category (“I’m going to watch a comedy” – not necessarily something you’d say out loud, but if you are in the mood for something funny, that’s a pretty deliberate concept).  I also refer to deliberate viewing as “search mode” for TV, since you will specifically search for the piece of content you want, whether by changing the channel, navigating your OnDemand menu, or going to your DVR library.

Random viewing: you go to the TV with no idea what you want to watch.  This includes simple channel surfing (“nope, next!”) as well as direct channel changing (“I wonder if anything good is on TNT now.  Maybe Shawshank or Blues Brothers??”).  It also includes browsing the OnDemand options (“I wonder if there’s anything new on Netflix?”) and even your DVR (“Maybe we recorded something we haven’t watched yet?”).  I also refer to random viewing as “browse mode” for TV, since you are just perusing lists of stuff until you find something you are content to watch.  Note the last phrasing here, as random viewing is less about the “excitement” factor of watching something deliberately, and more about the “good enough to pass the time” factor, with the potential for excitement.

Now for the cold, hard fact: any “future TV” service or product which doesn’t account for both types of TV viewing, will fail. This includes OTT services, smart TV apps, second screen apps, third screen apps, eighth screen apps, widgets, websites, gadgets, platforms, and everything else under the hood.  Again, if you cannot service both primary needs of a viewing audience, your system is a goner – unless, that is, you are specifically aiming to replace an existing component of those services (in other words – if your live TV service is designed to replace another live TV service, that’s viable, since the consumer’s ecosystem will still include whatever else it had before).

How do I back this up without cold, hard facts?  Because people don’t really change much, and TV, specifically, is not merely “another” activity up there with Angry Birds, Facebook, Pinterest, reading books, etc.  Watching TV is a very specific type of activity, one about entertainment and more importantly, escape.  Life is hard, TV lets you escape for a period of your day – why on earth would Americans spend 4-8 HOURS per day in front of it otherwise?

So if people don’t change, and people need escape (especially as they age – I’m not talking about 13 year olds here, for the most part), they need some version of deliberate and random lean back TV watching.  Could this include YouTube videos? Sure. How about an all-on demand lineup?  Doubtful.  How about a “TV is just an app” concept? Doubtful. It’s why most cord-cutting theories aren’t holding water.  It’s why #SocialTV is still mostly just a fad. It’s why most “second screen” apps are just barely gaining traction. It’s why Google TV is such a mess right now.  It’s why Apple TV is still a hobby.  Sure, these things work absolutely great for some, but absolutely don’t for most.

The future of TV involves a lot of change.  And the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Long live TV.

3 Lessons for Social TV

You may have noticed something was missing throughout the nation’s most social sporting event of the year. The Super Bowl in-game broadcast had zero social media TV integration.

With more than a billion people on Facebook and Twitter alone, many of them watching the game, this was a missed opportunity. Why did NBC and the NFL miss the boat? Likely, the common internal social media struggles got in the way. Incorporating social media into the epic annual broadcast would have created adversity internally. It’s not the way they’ve always done it and, therefore, it’s uncomfortable.

But while the network and league lost an opportunity to innovate the viewing experience, many advertisers took advantage of integrating social media within their pricey ads. By doing this, the advertisers garnered more reach and engagement.

Slapping Twitter handles and Facebook URLs on the TV screen, however, is no longer enough for socially-savvy television. Social media users can now dictate the outcome of live TV shows, create its content, and most notably, impact ratings. Throughout the succinct two-year history of social television, successes and failures have taught practitioners three valuable lessons:

1. Keep it organic. The golden rule of social media is to deliver value when, where, and how your audience wants to receive it. With Social TV, the audience is providing value right back. Naturally, viewers are talking about their favorite (or least favorite) TV shows and sporting events. So, let them talk back when, where, and how they want to. It not only provides a temperature on opinions and sentiment, but also extends content into a perpetual conversation with social media keeping the buzz alive even after the show is over.

For example, The X Factor realized that their highly enthusiastic following on Twitter had strong opinions about the show’s contestants. Viewers didn’t necessarily care if the TV show itself was listening to their opinion; they were naturally sharing their thoughts, feelings, likes, and dislikes in the interest of a social viewing experience with their peers. After monitoring this behavior and listening to viewers, The X Factor became the first show ever to harness that conversation’s inherent power and let viewers vote via Twitter direct message. This provided a convenient and direct means for loyal viewers and tweeters to voice their opinions in a meaningful yet official way.

2. Offer low-barrier engagement. It’s not a new concept for television shows to host contests highlighting viewer submissions. However, with the evolution of Social TV, the entry process is now far more accessible.

Jimmy Fallon is one of the pioneers of this concept. In the prehistoric age of social TV, Fallon trail-blazed by providing Twitter hashtag prompts to viewers and airing the most creative and hilarious responses on-air. Why was this so innovative? It kept the viewers in their own space. Fallon’s call-to-action required little effort; a simple, witty one-liner in a tweet could be your chance at late-night stardom.

What was the benefit for the TV show? Viewers were now entertained at an incremental level. They were participating with the show — and invested in the next evening’s show — to see if their tweet was highlighted within the broadcast. Simply said, they were elevated one notch up on the loyalty ladder. Many of the hashtags even became trending topics, which garnered accelerated awareness for the innovative hashtag game and even more paramount, the show itself.

3. Measure and share real-time results with viewers. TV networks and shows can put their finger on the pulse of viewer engagement before, during, and after a show airs. It’s traditionally believed that word of mouth is the most influential form of marketing. Consensus matters because it saves time and provides clarity. In the same way we look for book or music recommendations from friends, we turn to social media to hear about the next big thing. Traditional media outlets are becoming valuable editors of the social media space, using their expertise to tell their viewers what they should be consuming according to general consensus. This strategy also proves valuable to advertisers who can make more informed decisions about when, where, and how they want to advertise on TV.

As the 2012 presidential election approaches, voters will be keeping their eyes on their own network’s opinions more than political pundits or government officials. Said pundits and officials should, therefore, provide a new form of value by packaging and delivering these organic results to their audience.

It’s important to note that experimenting leads to best practices. The entertainment offering is only limited by the imagination of the producers.