OPINION – HANGING IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA LOUNGE

Chicago, IL – The ‘Social Media Lounge” popped up over the last few years as a hallmark of reality television talent contests and award shows. Between performances or awards presentations, usually just prior to a commercial break, viewers find themselves looking in at the social media lounge, where a bunch of people happen to be hanging out (rarely a computer or smart phone in sight) and the commentator has a printed stack of tweets, wall posts, and text messages in hand. These lounges have found their place on programs like NBC’s The Voice, The BET Awards and dozens of others.

Does anyone else think this is downright silly? The involvement of social media in television is nothing new. Users get involved in the fun by voting or just voicing opinions. Networks champion these efforts due to the brand advocacy that is built by interaction on social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, My Space, and other top sites offer a fantastic atmosphere of participation, but I wish networks could come up with more original and less old-fashioned ways of integrating social media into their programming. A social media lounge? Printed pages? Spoken voice? These are physical elements that have no place in the digital lexicon of social media users; their inclusion just makes no sense. Think harder, advertisers.

I don’t think advertisers need to bring in scientists or science fiction authors to make social media and television work together. Since both television programming and social networking sites are visual media, simply use screen graphics to display social talkback. Make this visual interface a striking screen presence. Tried and true pop ups don’t underscore the importance of social media, rather seamlessly integrate social media with a viewing experience.

Social media lounges raise a larger conversation regarding the continued growing pains of advertising and marketing interaction with entertainment media. As trends cycle in, traditional media often struggles to make sense of each trend’s inclusion.

After all, tweets and posts aren’t meant to be read off a ream of paper in a swanky lounge. See Mashable’s pictures of the BET Awards 2011 Social Media Lounge here.

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