6 Ways to Dig Into the Ultimate Second-Screen Tool

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Jack Holt
Jack Holt



second-screenNothing beats Twitter as the ultimate second-screen tool. Even Nielsen can’t track viewer emotions in real time as thoroughly as Twitter, where context curation using hashtags is making it easier to target the right audience at the exact moment they’re interested in the topic.

But engaging viewers on their second screen can seemed forced if you don’t choose the right hashtags or the right programming. If you’re looking to jump on the second-screen bandwagon, here are some tips to get you started.

1. Locate Hashtags in Popular Media


“Good Morning America” is one of many TV shows almost constantly displaying a hashtag during its broadcast (usually #GMA).

When Ford CEO Alan Mulally presented the 2015 Mustang design on the show, both companies were able to immediately gauge the reaction among brand fans. Launching a redesign of an iconic car on a morning show is expensive, but it’s a safe bet that paid off for Ford, with the unveiling of the new Mustang outshining “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” on that day’s broadcast.

Depending on your brand, sometimes it’s worth the flash and expense of a Times Square unveiling to grab the attention of an audience that’s already primed to engage.

2. Determine the Right Partner

“Good Morning America” was a good choice for Ford, but finding the right TV programs or sporting events to partner with depends on a variety of factors. Your agency should have a database of available partners, and your budget, along with your ability to sift through social data, will drive how much you can spend on advertising.

If you’re pinching pennies, there are ways to see great success with less-than-primetime placement. Esurance had a big hit after the Big Game with its #EsuranceSave30 commercial featuring John Krasinski.

In the spot, Krasinski lets on that Esurance saved $1.5 million by airing its commercial after the game and launched a contest that spawned over 5.4 million uses of the hashtag (200,000 of which happened within the first minute of the commercial airing).

3. Target the Right Audience

As you choose your media, ask yourself whether you are nurturing brand fans or attracting a growing segment of personas distinct from your most vocal advocates. You can really screw this up if you disenchant your fans while trying to reach growing segments.

Both Ford and Esurance went after their brand fans, but if Esurance had wanted to target an ad at the growing segment of progressive buyers, it could have run an ad on “The Colbert Report” to charm that segment without disenchanting older, more conservative buyers who wouldn’t be watching that show.

4. Coordinate Your Hashtags

As long as you’re fine with the campaign hashtag audience seeing the tweets from that show, ask the media producers to use your campaign hashtag along with their live show tag. This can add multiple points to your engagement statistics, but you’d be surprised at how often marketers skip this simple step. Remember that this is new to most agencies and brands, so walk through the strategy together and over-communicate to make sure it’s executed effectively.

5. Use Data to Sell the Client

It’s important to show the client that you have enough data to back up your hunches. For example, Progressive may want to run a campaign to plant some seeds for younger consumers. The most popular show for its overall audience is “Conan O’Brien,” but “The Daily Show” is uniquely popular for Progressive.


Think of this as an “undiluted” market, heavily concentrated with people who have engaged with Progressive. Sure, Conan is hugely popular with Progressive fans, but Conan is popular with almost every brand’s fans. Therefore, Progressive can make a much more informed decision on cost benefit by comparing the data on two possible partners.

6. Be Prepared to Call an Audible

If you’ve meticulously prepared your tweets with your media partner, but some tragic news interrupts your launch, do the right thing for your brand. The legendary example is Oreo’s “You can still dunk in the dark” tweet, which was posted when the lights went out during the 2013 Super Bowl.

While that tweet and its subsequent campaign won a ton of acclaim from the advertising world, it was a milquetoast message — extremely innocuous and, in my opinion, not great content for the brand. Don’t try these kinds of audibles unless you can create a unique, on-brand message that’s timely. Remember: What’s good for the agency isn’t necessarily good for the brand.

We all know the challenges of engaging your audience on social. But with a little strategy, you can take control of the second screen and dominate the Twitterverse. Expertly coordinated hashtags that are relevant to the content will connect with the audience you are trying to reach in a new way across both channels and maximize your marketing dollars.

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