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Social Media: How the Big Boys Play

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By Marsha Friedman

You don’t have to tell Kevin Reilly, entertainment president of Fox Broadcasting Company, that social media is a good way to market new shows. He already knows.

At the MIPCOM show—a TV and entertainment conference and market held in Cannes, France every year—Reilly said the network is using social media to build awareness of new shows with tremendous success. Reilly gushed over how social media has made shows hits like Glee and New Girl, almost before they even hit the airwaves.

“In a connected world in which individuals have the ability to choose from the best of TV past and present, more and more the audience will rely on filtering mechanisms and social networks to navigate and inform their choices,” he told the crowd in his keynote:

“There is a reason that Facebook just kicked social TV into high gear. As one blogger said: ‘When people start consuming content through Facebook, it enables a new world of friend-to-friend discovery that is potentially worth more than any promo campaign on the planet.’ In other words, better than any network today can provide.”

I read his speech on deadline.com; by the way, it’s a great site to keep track of what is going on in the film, TV and media businesses. Their coverage of the social media explosion, which has included several similar speeches about social media (from the announcement of Yahoo! doing a Web-only TV series and the expansion of Facebook’s strategic deals with, well, just about everyone), is another demonstration of social media no longer being a trend. It’s now clearly part of the foundation of the media. Don’t look now, but TV, radio, print and online just moved one chair down to make room for social media at the grown-ups table.

Think about what Fox has just done. For their new hit comedy New Girl, Fox pre-released an episode on iTunes and VOD, before the pilot was even aired on TV—and they scored 2-million downloads. Reilly also said that Glee was the guinea pig for social media. First, they streamed the show on HULU.com before they aired it and all of the songs from the show’s musical numbers were released on iTunes, to provide fodder for social media followers.

But this is the real telling quote from the speech: “The series premiered as a bona fide hit, which I am certain would not have been the case had we marketed it in a more traditional way.”

My point? Simple. If you’re using social media for your business today, that’s good. My advice would be to make sure you are doing everything you can within reason to capitalize on the marketing opportunities it provides.

And if you’re not using social media, you need to start now. It’s where everyone is conversing, sharing information, referring favorite books, products and services, and researching their next purchase. It’s where you need to be.

Marsha Friedman is a 21-year veteran of the public relations industry and a sought after national public speaker on the power of publicity. She is the founder and CEO of EMSI Public Relations.

For more information, visit www.GuaranteedNationalPR.com.

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