“It’s all about content. People constantly try to overthink the web.” – Conan O’Brien
In a perfect world, Conan O’Brien would prefer everybody in the world watch his show on TBS, when it airs. Unlike a lot of TV personalities and people in charge of TV networks, however, Conan is smart enough to know that’s not how people view TV anymore. And he’s okay with that. “The audience is too fragmented,” he says, “they’re too distracted, and a whole generation is growing up that doesn’t watch television that way.”
Learning to embrace the social web has been a key part of O’Brien’s PR strategy, he told Piers Morgan at The Cable Show, an annual cable industry convention.
Positioning – Conan Aligns Himself with Technology Adopters
O’Brien has 5.7 million followers on Twitter (compared to Jay Leno’s 370,000) and in the interview it’s interesting that Morgan chooses three tweets from Conan to read aloud, because all of them are technology-based jokes that draw a clear divide between those who understand and adopt new technologies and those who don’t. Conan says:
“What you’re doing with social media is constantly trying to figure out ways to create a symbiotic relationship. It’s not just driving people on social networks to your television show — yes, you want to do that — but you want to get people on the TV emotionally involved with what you’re doing on Facebook and Twitter.”
This statement proves how innovative Conan really is because it flies in the face of everybody who says a social media strategy should only exist to get people to watch your show.
In 2010, going through the tribulations of losing The Tonight Show back to Leno, he says he felt he was “standing with one foot in traditional broadcasting and one foot in this new world that we’re all trying to figure out.” Online, he was clearly the winner.
Here’s our 3D visualization of “Conan vs. Leno” on the web in 2010. All of the relevant URLs are spheres with sentiment-based color, linking to each other. Team Coco on Facebook is the most influential, right in the middle.
Have your customers forced you to embrace social technology yet? Do you know where they are online? If not, what kinds of conversations are you missing out on? If TV shows can create meaningful relationships with their viewers in a competing medium, just think what you could be doing …
The Tides Are Turning
What’s interesting in this video is that Team Coco is applauded by a cable-industry crowd for having apps, tweets, Facebook posts, foursquare check-ins, videos on YouTube, webcasts, and Flickr and Tumblr accounts (not to mention rdio, GetGlue, and Google+). This idea of a digital strategy that supports a TV show by giving away much of its content and creating more is something that many are still fighting.
Just last week, I was talking with an award-winning cable TV show employee who was endlessly frustrated because their company wouldn’t let them post videos to YouTube and make them easily shareable. To some, it’s just too counter-intuitive to “give away” the content.
A self-described luddite to social media at first, Conan says there was a “condescending attitude for a long time about the web — it’s cute, it’s fun, the media likes to talk about it, but it’s of no consequence. And clearly that’s changing.” The grassroots Team Coco movement forced him to embrace “this world” and figure out how to use it.