Facebook announced a number of new tools that broadcasters can utilize to engage with their audience via Facebook. The tools are largely API-driven and focus on interacting with an audience that watches a particular show or event at home. Facebook groups the new offerings into three categories (i.e. engage, decide, and display). Users can engage by contributing content to a program. Users can help decide outcomes via polling and voting. Finally, the display category focuses on photo/video curation to offer content in broadcast graphics.
Powered by Telescope, Facebook unveiled an API that provides broadcasters a method to collect multimedia responses and contributions from a television audience. Broadcasters collect the media through landing pages. Potential use cases for such feature include audition videos, video questions for on-air reply, and shorts for film contests. Fox News recently used the feature during the GOP debated back in August. Fox received over 40,000 video submissions from Facebook for the debate.
Facebook announced the Hashtag Voting API that allows viewers to vote via a hashtag in Facebook posts or comments. Telescope stands as the first third party provider to utilize the API. Telescope used the API to receive television audience feedback during Fox's Teen Choice Awards. Further, Facebook announced a native media polling product specifically designed for TV show Facebook pages. The API-based product allows producers to receive input from the television audience through reactions to sports events, breaking news, or other timely topics. The Pac-12 conference began using the tool this season.
To further its Media Solutions Program, Facebook announced a Public Figures API. The API allows public figures across sport, entertainment, news, and political industries to provide content to Facebook. The new API complements curation tools and graphics tools that media partners can utilize to provide unique, top quality graphics during broadcast. Facebook also announced a number of new partners into the Media Solutions Program.
Broadcasters should take note of Facebook's new offerings as the social media giant recently conducted a study that found Facebook's peak usage time coincides with primetime television. Bob Morgan, Facebook's Partner Engineering Director, explained in a blog post:
"We highlighted one relevant study on our Facebook for Business blog which found that 85% of people who reported visiting a social network while watching TV said they visited Facebook," Morgan wrote. "Our own researchers discovered that Facebook usage peaks in primetime, in every country, and that the maximum daily Facebook audience occurs during maximum TV viewing."
The "second screen" concept originally stirred the waters a few years ago, when companies first considered the relationship between television and the growing social media space. The area continues to evolve as social media providers like Facebook and Twitter attempt to enter the television space, and traditional broadcasters consider how to better engage an audience through social media. Continue to keep an eye out for further integration between broadcasters and social media providers.