Social engagement: in the car or on TV …?

The way we use social media is changing with two major developments in the industry. A new app from BMW allows drivers to access the internet via their cars (when stationary one presumes!) and Channel 5’s decision to use Facebook as a voting platform for the new series of Big Brother means viewers can watch, vote and provide real-time commentary through TV screens.

The BMW Connected app displays a specified set of iPhone app features on the in-dash display meaning Facebook and Twitter, plus thousands of internet radio music stations, can be accessed from your car any time anywhere. With plans for expansion, such as working with other third-party apps, already in the offing this is a development with serious mileage. It will undoubtedly eventually extend to other mobile devices, in other cars (it’s already in the Mini) and via other social networks (the newly launched Google+ for example).

Following in American Idol’s footsteps, the UK is about to witness what could become a major change in the way we watch TV and engage socially. Canny Channel 5 not only bought the rights to Big Brother, after it finished on Channel 4, but is giving it a social-voting twist which will create new business opportunities, engage viewers and boost advertising. It could be about to create UK TV history.

In the future Facebook Credits digital currency will enable viewers to readily pay to vote and Pay-TV electronic programme guides (EPGs), will allow viewers to instantly recommend shows to their online friends and followers, encouraging them to subscribe to pay-TV channels for particular programmes.

Even more valuable than the hard currency – estimated to be billions of pounds – is the social data this will provide. A social graph for content recommendation and TV viewing behaviour will have major commercial significance for the TV industry and offer Facebook and Twitter the opportunity to monetise their data and further diversify revenue streams.

These developments take social media engagement to the next level and will at some point impact on the way brands approach their social TV advertising. As a result it should be considered in long-term marketing strategies now. For the first time it also makes us a little bit excited about the prospect of Big Brother returning to our TV screens – just for research purposes, of course.