Case study: @JeffProbst and the Survivor virtual living room

Before I write anything about Survivor, let me get a few things out of the way. Yes, Survivor is still on the air. Yes, people still watch it. And yes, I am one of those people who have seen every episode of every season and will continue to watch until it goes off the air.

The tribe has spoken

*image courtesy of CBS.com

One of the biggest reasons I’ve tuned in for 23 seasons is the host, Jeff Probst. He’s probably most well-known for delivering lines like “the tribe has spoken” while wearing his go-to outfit: khaki pants, blue button down shirt and a hat. But he’s more than just a catchphrase. He’s really, really good at his job. For example, during one tribal council last season a situation escalated and accusations of racism were thrown out. I was incredibly uncomfortable watching from home so I can’t imagine how tense it was around the fire. Probst handled the situation brilliantly.

If I sound like a fan girl, it’s because I am. In the last year, I’ve been really impressed with his decision to join Twitter and connect with fans in what he calls the “virtual living room.” Probst joined Twitter on his own accord and started live-tweeting during episodes as they aired last season. His tweets provided a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of Survivor, 140 characters at a time.

The response was overwhelming. CBS quickly took notice and capitalized on promoting Probst’s Twitter handle and encouraging fans to live-tweet along with him. This season Probst has upped the ante and added Tout to his social media repertoire. He uses Tout to expand his comments beyond the Twitter character limit. During commercial breaks, he posts 15- to 30-second video responses to questions from fans. The videos give a more personal feel to the virtual living room experience and a few fans each week get a shout out from the man himself. Pretty cool for us Survivor buffs.

I don’t have any exact data, but I would guess Probst’s social media efforts have helped combat the DVR effect. Obviously networks make money off of advertisers so they want viewers to watch live rather than DVR a show and skip over the commercials. I personally have changed my viewing habits and try to watch the show live whenever possible so I can experience it along with Probst. Of course the question remains to be answered whether or not Probst’s live-tweeting has resulted in new viewers or just made existing viewers more loyal. While the networks are ratings-driven, I truly believe Probst is in it to have fun and connect with anyone who shares his passion for Survivor.

Whether or not you are a Survivor fan, the virtual living room Probst has created is a great case study about the use of live-tweeting to connect with viewers and potentially combat the DVR effect. And it further reinforces Probst’s enthusiasm and dedication to the show and its followers.

Do you think live-tweeting can impact viewers’ behavior? Have you seen other examples where this tool has been implemented effectively? And more importantly, what’s your favorite Jeff Probst catchphrase? Cast your vote!

Top Takeaways from Hoosier PRSA Social Media Boot Camp

Waking up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday isn’t normally my idea of fun. This weekend, however, I gave up some of my precious sleep time to attend Hoosier PRSA’s Social Media Boot Camp. Below are some of my top takeaways from the event.

Writing for Humans and Bots: Tools for a Winning SEO Strategy
Shari Finnell and Amanda Coleman from Slingshot SEO did a great job breaking down the basics and providing a ridiculous amount of useful tools. Some highlights:

  • Content is key! It should be fresh, thorough, relevant, authentic, engaging and high quality.
  • Understand what Google deems high quality content by asking yourself these 23 questions.
  • Use Google Trends to see what people click on when searching for a keyword. When appropriate, leave a substantial comment on top stories with a link to your site to boost traffic.
  • When writing for SEO, don’t just include the keyword, which could be generic and have multiple meanings. Think about related terms and incorporate them into the content to help differentiate. It may help to do a Google search using your keyword and scroll to the bottom to see a list of related search terms.
  • You have to write the way people search. For example, they don’t always spell words correctly and that can have a significant impact on whether or not your site comes up in their search. Use Google AdWords to check the number of searches based on alternative spellings of a keyword.
  • Ask partner organizations or others who mention you on their website to make it a link. It’s an easy way boost traffic to your site and your SEO ranking.

Social Media Measurement
I’ve had the chance to work with Taulbee Jackson and the team from Raidious before so I knew his presentation was going to be good. The biggest takeaway (attention all higher ups!) is that social media is measurable. And unlike other forms of media, it can give us direct insight into what action the audience took. For example, you can know that someone saw a tweet about a new product, clicked the link to learn more and then made a purchase.

To measure social media, Taulbee suggested five key metrics:

  1. Reach: How big is your audience and how big is your audience’s audience?
  2. Engagement: Is there interest in your content? (i.e. replies, likes, clicks, etc)
  3. Activity: How often are you publishing content? Avoid audience burn, where you lose followers/likes/subscribers because you post too often.
  4. Amplification: Did anyone find the content so awesome they had to tell someone?
  5. Conversion: Did the content achieve the desired objective?

Taulbee also talked about sentiment analysis (determining if mentions are positive, neutral or negative) and influence analysis (prioritizing social media responses based on how influential the person is). And he gave us an inside scoop on how Raidious is helping with the 2012 Super Bowl social media strategy.

Those are just a few of my top takeaways from each session. Totally worth the early Saturday morning, right?

Did you attend the Social Media Boot Camp? Reply below and share your top takeaways!

My weird Facebook journey (and why we may not be friends)

I am not your typical Facebook user.

I boycotted the site when it first came to my college. At the time, it seemed like a virtual popularity contest with people constantly asking each other, “How many friends do you have?” Of course the term “friends” was loosely defined as a lot of people became friends with anyone and everyone. I also didn’t like that my roommates posted where they lived and their entire class schedule. It made me uncomfortable knowing that that much information was out there – even in the days when Facebook was limited to college students.

Over time, my reasons for boycotting changed. It became more about me being stubborn and not wanting to cave. Everyone knew I wasn’t on the site and tried to get me to give in. They were all surprised when I jumped on Twitter so quickly two years ago. I can’t tell you how many times I was asked, “How can you be on Twitter but not Facebook?” To be honest, I didn’t really have a good response.

Facebook logoWhile boycotting the site, I still kept tabs on Facebook. From a professional standpoint, it was impossible to ignore the value of the site in communicating with your audience. So when I decided to create a page for the program I run, I knew the inevitable had to come: it was time to join Facebook. (I was also pushed by a group of friends who refused to share pictures from our trip to Puerto Vallarta unless I joined Facebook. Mean but effective!)

I spent my first week on Facebook trying to figure out how I wanted to use the site and untagging photos (my college roommates were just a little excited that I joined and got tag-happy). When I joined Twitter, I decided early on I would use it as a mix of professional and personal updates. I felt comfortable connecting with people I had never met, particularly people in my industry in Indianapolis, as a way to build my network.

For whatever reason, I just didn’t view Facebook the same way. I wanted to keep it more personal and only connect with people that I actually had a real life relationship with. It’s not that I am a different person on Twitter than I am on Facebook – what you see is what you get with me. However, I am more conscious of what I post on Twitter and feel more comfortable expressing personal opinions on Facebook where I have more control over who sees what updates.

So if we’re not friends on Facebook, this is probably why. It’s definitely made for some awkward moments when I’ve had to deny friendship requests. In some cases, I’ll try to offer an explanation and most of the time people get it. But every time it definitely feels awkward.

So how do you use Facebook? How do you handle denying friendship requests? Do you think it makes sense to separate personal from professional across social media platforms or does it come across as editing yourself? Let me know your thoughts!

Live-tweeting: Love it or hate it?

One of the reasons I love Twitter versus other social media platforms is that it lends itself to universal conversations. That is, I can search for people talking about a specific topic and jump right in with my thoughts, even if I don’t know them personally. This conversation is typically facilitated by the use of hashtags, which make it easier to find people talking about the same thing.

The times I end up connecting with people the most on Twitter is usually when I’m live-tweeting. Live-tweeting is essentially sharing your thoughts on an event as it is happening in real time. If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I’m pretty much addicted to live-tweeting. On Sundays, particularly during Colts games, I’m a football tweeting machine. Today just happens to be the Super Bowl so I’m sure I’ll be sending out several tweets during the game.

I love seeing who is tweeting about the same TV shows, watching the same games as me and who may be at the same event I’m tweeting from. It creates a collective experience and provides a connection that might not have otherwise been established. It’s also interesting to see people tweet during crazy weather, which we’ve certainly had enough of this week in Indy.

On the flip side, I also like when people I follow live-tweet events. For example, if I can’t attend Hoosier PRSA luncheons or Indy Social Media Breakfasts, I can follow the hashtag and see what people at the event are saying. It’s a great way for me to peek in on events I can’t attend. It’s obviously not the same experience as being there in person, but it’s a pretty good substitute.

I recognize that not everyone is as enamored by live-tweeting as me. Some people say it’s annoying and fills up their timeline. Others may not be interested in what you are live-tweeting about. I usually try to give my followers a heads up if I know I’m going to be tweeting a lot from an event. And there are certainly people I follow who live-tweet about things I don’t necessarily care about, but I just skip over their tweets and move on. If you really don’t like live-tweeting, of course you can always unfollow someone, but you might also consider these other options.

So what do you think about live-tweeting? Have you connected with people who were tweeting about the same thing as you at the same time? Are you one of the people who hate it? If so, how do you deal with the overload of tweets? I’d love to hear your thoughts!