Initial Findings from ADAPT/PACT Social Media Survey

The ADAPT Social Media team (Dr James Bennett & Dr Niki Strange) is currently partnering with PACT (Producers Alliance for Cinema and Television) in its investigation into Social Media and its impact on UK TV production. On 7th September the first of two surveys was launched via the PACT website, aiming to shed light on how new business models, revenue streams and job roles are emerging in the sector and should help indies to understand the economic and creative implications for their businesses. The survey will be repeated in September 2017 to track developments and identify trends, and its findings will be supplemented by focus groups and one to one interviews with key television industry figures over the next 2 years.

After closing on 23rd September 2017 we were delighted to have received 180 responses from TV companies across the UK and Republic of Ireland. The survey was not limited to PACT members and respondents ranged from micro businesses to superindies, and encompassed those working in a wide range of production genres.

Initial findings have now been published on the PACT website, including the following insights:

Social media has led to new revenue streams for a quarter of respondents                        A quarter of total respondents said that Social Media has led to new revenue streams for their company, with YouTube ad revenue being the most cited. Other sources included merchandising sales from Facebook, show-related apps, social media data leading to publishing deals and brand extensions and digital commissions.  However the vast majority of the companies benefitting from these new revenue streams were medium to large companies (50 employees or more)

Just over half of respondents felt formal ‘social media for TV’ training needed
Just over half of all respondents indicated that employees had either attended short courses or had experienced ‘on the job’ training.  Nearly half of all respondent companies stated that no one at the company had any social media training whatsoever with less than 10% holding a relevant degree.  As a result, 51% thought  that formal ‘social media for TV ’ training was needed, particularly around production of assets, managing digital engagement campaigns around TV, branding, organic vs paid social media, and dashboards/analytics analysis. Given that 33% also had experienced ethical and compliance issues around social media for TV, training in that area could be welcome too.

How social media is resourced and managed
In the majority of cases, both programme-related and general company social media is funded from company overheads, with broadcasters representing the least likely source of funds for social media activity. This applied across the board to micro businesses, SMEs and large companies. However there was a contrast between large and small businesses in terms of who undertook social media activities.   Companies of 50 employees or more tend to have dedicated social media managers undertaking company and production specific social media work. SMEs and micro businesses tend to entrust production-related social media work to junior staff members first and foremost, with company owners taking the lead on social media work related to the company and its promotions more generally. Producer/Directors also often play a significant role in social media activation for TV shows but less so for company social media work.

Significant contrast in social media platform usage according to genre
The respondents were given a range of platforms and asked to choose the ones they used most frequently for general company and for TV specific social media work.  In both areas, Twitter was used, on average, marginally more frequently than Facebook, with YouTube, Vimeo and Instagram ranking as being used regularly. Snapchat, Periscope and Vine tend to be used less frequently and when they are, it’s for TV related social media work rather than general company promotions.  There was a significant contrast in platform usage according to genre, with Instagram and Snapchat favoured on drama productions over factual, and Facebook used most often on entertainment shows. Repeating the survey in 2017 will enable the research team to further track indicative usage of platforms across a specific time period.

Broader research conclusions encompassing all the responses (including one to one interviews and focus groups conducted with indies, broadcasters, platforms, and social agencies) will be published in 2018 as an industry white paper.

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