PixelPower

The challenges for social media integration

I see three fundamental challenges for social media integration. First, the solution has to be very fast. If social media is to have any value for the programme then it must be immediate. No-one is interested in what someone things about an event ten minutes ago. The process has to be seconds from start to finish.

The second challenge is linked to the first. You have to be able to sort and grade the tweets so that you only put on screen the messages that are interesting and relevant, but at the same time not going to cause offence to the audience or the regulator. To keep up with the flow there has to be a lot of automation around this or you will get swamped.
The software needs to have rules to determine what is likely to be valuable and what can be binned. You might want to promote some messages over others: what previous winners of talent contests or reality shows would excite audiences, for instance. So the control system has to make a lot of instant decisions and just show the producer the selected messages for final clearance.

Third, you have to get from Twitter to the screen. That means showing them in the context of the programme. The last thing you want is to create a distinctive look for show, then have the social media feed look like computer type dropped on top. So you need a powerful graphics platform which can get the messages on screen in real time, conforming to the visual design of the show.

So what are the differences between a graphics unit for social media and for conventional graphics? Well as already noted, there should be no difference. The producer will want a consistent, high quality look and feel for the programme, so there can be no compromise. The one important point to remember is that the social media graphics have to be generated in real time: if you have to wait for something to render, the moment will have passed.

The key for broadcasters, in order to increase the value of social media, is to embrace it. Social media is a great way of keeping the audience engaged and immersed in what you are doing. The chances are that viewers are exchanging information on social media about the content of the programme, so why would you not want to know what they are saying. Why would you not want to use it to drive further engagement?

What is now needed is for producers to grasp the possibilities and come up with new and creative ways of using it. I think there will also be a move to using some of the newer social media platforms, rather than just traditional Twitter or Facebook feeds.

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