Webs hire digital outreach execs

As viewers increasingly watch TV while engaging in social media, networks are bolstering their exec ranks with new posts focused on social media.

“Social strategy is increasingly a part of the overall approach to messaging and brand strategy,” Tricia Melton, senior veep of brand and entertainment marketing for TBS, TNT and TCM, told Variety. She recently hired Lincoln Lopez as VP of social media for the trifecta of Turner Broadcasting cablers, a newly created position. He joins from VH1 where he served as veep of digital marketing and social media and will report to Melton.

“I describe social as the connective tissue of all the brand communication,” Melton said. “It’s not replacing any other form of communication and strategy. It’s just becoming inherently important to have that social media focus.”

Social media efforts commonly reside under a net’s digital umbrella, with heads of digital guiding teams through the social waters. But, as more and more TV auds turn to their tech devices while turning to the tube, nets including MTV, HBO and these Turner cablers are conceiving jobs that focus specifically on a brand’s outreach on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.

Turner’s hiring of Lopez comes as the company continues to ramp up its online presence. The Facebook for TNT’s “Dallas” reboot, for example, has been one of the cabler’s most prominent social media successes thus far.

“We made the Facebook page all through the lens of J.R., it’s completely in character,” Melton said. The “Dallas” Facebook currently boasts over 1.1 million likes, and, even though the show is in between seasons, thousands of Facebook users interact with the page every day. “The whole mythology and history of the Ewing family is brought to life on Facebook. Once we committed to that kind of strategy where we’re going to be throught that lens and not break the fourth wall … you stay very connected with your fan base.”

Research data tends to be the best friend of newsocial media execs, who are able to craft campaigns around a show’s demos and their respective tech habits. Melton said one aspect for a program’s social strategy is “saying no.”

“Certain (social media efforts) won’t make sense for our viewer,” she said. “Sync apps are very of the moment right now. However, we deliberately said ‘no’ for ‘Dallas.'”

The target demo for “Dallas” is women 25-49, a subset of viewers that, per Melton, prefer Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest to the sync apps that deepen viewing experience during the actual watching of a show.

“Sync apps aren’t a driver for the ‘Dallas’ audience yet. But for ‘Conan’s’ fanbase, it was completely perfect. We worked with Team Coco and launched an app and won an Emmy for it this year.”

Turner’s social media execs also help hone the Twitter voice of talent on popular skeins, even offering a “social media boot camp” to producers and thesps.

“We want to help expand the audience and build fans by communicating in the best way for a show. We consider the talent our social media ambassadors.”

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