Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

Scott Monty - Strategic Communications & Leadership Advisor

It looks like things are starting to come around - big media is joining the modern movement and starting to embrace social media as part of their overall communications strategy, not just as a perfunctory move.

For example, USA Today has a Twitter page and has seen a readership jump of 380% since doing a social network makeover. On my local 10 o'clock news and news radio station, I hear them mention their blogs and encourage online feedback from listeners.

But the big media social network that has my attention right now is none other than...

...NBC. Yes, that's right. The peacock network. The network that once boasted "Must See TV." The network that is now #4 in the ratings war and has 22% less revenue than last year to show for it. In addition to some new shows, their social network strategy is one way that they're hoping to gain some loyal viewers.

They are currently previewing the NBC.com Social Networking site and are calling for fans to get involved. "What exactly does NBC feature in the way of a social network?" I hear you asking. Here are a few examples:

Message Boards
Yes, it's very 1997 of you, NBC, but it's a basic component of any TV network's infrastructure. Get the fans to your site and let them chat about whatever excites them about your shows and sponsors. Only this time, monitor the hell out of it and figure out how to respond.

Video & Photo Galleries
The idea is simple: keep 'em here rather than give up the content to YouTube. Just make sure you enable sharing features and embedded video, so your fans can put the content on their blogs to share with friends, if they wish. Don't keep them tied to your home-grown social network. If you do, you'll lose them altogether.

Here's where someone got creative. You've got the expected blogs: Jay's Garage by Jay Leno and Late Night Insider by Conan O'Brien. But then you get blogs from some of the popular characters on top shows, such as Dwight Schrute's blog - Schrute-Space (The Office); the Banker's Blog (Deal or No Deal), which takes the faceless, voiceless powermonger and gives us some insights to what makes him tick.

Other features to be rolled out include a personal profile, buddies, groups and widgets. I'll be interested to see how NBC brings this to life, wraps it into the shows, and engages with their fans.
It probably helps that they have an Executive Vice President for Digital Entertainment and New Media, Vivi Zigler. It shows that NBC is willing to invest in the latest method of communicating with customers.

But will it result in higher revenue? If NBC can justify the traffic to advertisers, that might be a way to stem some of the lost revenue. And if they're able to effectively integrate advertising efforts into their widgets, they may have a new network advertising revenue model that they can help to pioneer and define.

And just to bring this back to a B2B focus for a moment, that last phrase - pioneer and define - seems to be what's holding so many B2B companies back as they sit on the sidelines and contemplate their corporate navels. They're waiting for proof that social media works in their space, that other companies are doing it and succeeding.

This may or may not be the right strategy. It probably depends on the organization. But they do risk a couple of things: at worst, being left behind and at best, being an also-ran. The point with new media is to get out there and experiment. Joseph Jaffe makes a geat point (#10 in his list to Bud.TV):
Above all...experiment experiment experiment and be prepared to make mistakes. Your reported $30-40 million investment will be well worth it if you learn from your mistakes and innovate intensely.
This is no time for timidity. It's time to get out there and see what sticks.

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