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Television upfronts are quite elaborate now that economic conditions are on the upward swing. Broadcast networks go all out to compete for the same advertising dollars.  In past upfronts, it’s not out of the ordinary for networks to take jabs at one another, but this spring, it was quite different.  In this spring’s upfronts, networks emphasized more than ever, TV programs and their social media tie-in. They pulled out all the stops to prove to advertisers that they have the tools to really engage and connect with their audience thru social media efforts.

One example that I’ve noticed over the past month is how Pinterest is more prevalent among networks.  I’ve considered Pinterest a resource for keeping up with fashion, trends, crafts and events by following friends and trend setters. NBC has a Pinterest account that includes boards on entertainment, the upcoming election, the Olympics, and of course clips from their new and current programs. For those that use Pinterest, I think this is a smart technique for NBC to reach that audience and connect with current and potential fans.

The CW has partnered with Bing to promote their new lineups with “TV to Bing About”.  The two brands have joined forces to provide behind the scenes footage of their already popular shows, and to create buzz about new programs. This has been a great example of collaborating the two brands to really connect with consumers socially.

Social media has been an effective tool to build buzz for sporting events as well. ESPN worked with twitter to build buzz surrounding the Super Bowl.  In the past, advertisers have tried to keep their ads a mystery so you have to tune in to catch a glimpse, but this year advertisers released ads weeks prior to gain viral traction and start the conversation weeks prior to the big event.

Over the past year, twitter handles are posted on the bottom/top of the screen during television programming.  What most networks are understanding is that it takes more than just acquiring followers and trending topics, but to get advertisers on board, they must go further.  Several networks are including advertisers in their twitter posts surrounding events or premieres to connect advertisers.  Some advertisers have requested to be involved in the promotion phase of a television program.  Either way, promoting new programming includes a high emphasis on social media.

It’s up for debate whether or not the social media tie-in equates to more dollars coming in from advertisers, or a program’s success in ratings, but it’s a factor that shouldn’t be ignored.

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