Social Media is regarded by UK indies as the most significant technical and creative innovation challenge for television producers in the near future, according to a recent Pact survey. Forty-Four percent of respondents indicated that Social Media is the biggest challenge to adapt to, ahead of VR (26%) and Augmented Reality (12%) in response to the Social Media in UK TV survey conducted by Pact and the Adapt Social Media team at Royal Holloway, University of London in October 2017.
Thanks go to the Pact members who participated in this, the second of two surveys carried out over a two year period to explore the impact of social media on UK TV production. Notably, in 2017 over two thirds of respondents suggested that formal Social Media for TV training would be useful (up from 51% in 2016), with data analysis and shooting/editing for social media being judged equally the most desirable. Despite this significance, only 47% of respondents indicated that employees had actually received any Social Media training, with the majority of this undertaken on the job.
"The survey results indicate that there is a strong desire for more training in this area, so we can better utilise the platforms available, and - as an industry - adapt in what is a rapidly evolving landscape."
- Pact Chief Executive, John McVay
Companies seeing new revenues from Social Media were down slightly, from 25% in 2016 to 20% in 2017, although the sources of revenue had broadened with Snapchat and Mashable now featuring alongside YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Advertising, sponsorship, merchandising and commissions remain the main revenue streams, with those working in Entertainment, Drama and Children’s genres substantially more likely to be making revenue from Social Media than those working in Factual.
Half of the 2017 survey respondents felt that a perception of low economic return prevented investment in Social Media, with lack of financial and human resource and relevant skills the next most commonly listed barriers to investment.
Lack of broadcaster and platform operator budget investment means Social Media work is most often being funded from company overheads. Perhaps as a result, the majority of social media work is entrusted to junior staff first and foremost, with company owners taking the next strongest lead in and amongst their myriad of other duties.
Of these Social Media activities, most commonly featured is using social media as a tool for promotion and marketing of a TV programme/brand, with viewer engagement, researching contributors/locations and casting coming close behind. Twitter remains the most used platform overall. However, there is a significant lack of activity on Snapchat with 84% of respondents reporting they ‘Never’ use the platform despite 32% of younger audiences regarding it as their main social profile - a number that has doubled since 2016, against a sharp decline in Facebook’s importance to this age group (Ofcom, 2017).
Pact Chief Executive John McVay commented on these initial findings: “Clearly Social Media is an important tool for content producers today - for promoting their wares but also as a new means of generating revenue. The survey results indicate that there is a strong desire for more training in this area, so we can better utilise the platforms available, and - as an industry - adapt in what is a rapidly evolving landscape. Producers have always been great innovators, and this is a challenge we must face head on if we want to ensure we maximise the benefit to our businesses.”
Broader data and findings from both surveys, along with analysis of 57 one-to-one interviews and focus groups with industry figures from broadcasters, indies, social media agencies and platforms, will be published in an Industry Report in May 2018 by Professor James Bennett and Dr Niki Strange of the Adapt Social Media team. Pact will be following up with more information about this nearer the time.