#Backchannel Bridges Gap Between Social, Traditional Media

sclark_20100310170745_320_240If you want to see how Traditional Media and Social Media are coming together to make for some interesting communications, check out the #backchannel hashtag on Twitter. This is an example of what we envisioned when we started Tanner Friedman. “The old” and “the new” are blending for a multi-platform communications experience.

The Backchannel is the creation of WXYZ-TV news anchor Stephen Clark. Basically, when his newscasts air on TV, he is engaged in conversation with viewers, via Twitter, and they are engaged with each other. They are talking about the news but, more importantly, they are talking about the newscast. You remember the TV newscast, the product that was supposed to be rendered irrelevant by Social Media. Here’s how Clark describes The Backchannel on his own blog.

One of the jobs of the TV anchor is to build a connection with the audience. Here’s an example of how Clark is doing that in new ways, using Twitter, beyond his many tweets all day and evening long. Last night, Clark was among a group I was with at a Detroit Tigers game. Once he tweeted that he was at the game, he started hearing from followers. So, he organized an impromptu “Tweetup” at the ballpark a couple of innings later. Viewers got a chance to meet and interaction with Clark “in real life” – something they would have never done in his days of merely reading a TelePrompter.

While he has taken it to a high level, Clark isn’t alone in his use of Social Media. His counterpart at WDIV-TV, Devin Scillian, posts regularly on Facebook and Twitter to an audience of thousands, interacting with his audience. And WJBK-TV reporter/anchor Roop Raj takes viewers on a behind-the-scenes tour of the station’s weekend morning newscasts on a frequent basis.

Clark’s example should demonstrate to the companies that run TV stations that they can rescue their brands among a tech savvy population. The challenge is that the companies and their executives are not pushing this. Generally speaking, the anchors are doing it on their own. They should serve as an example throughout Traditional Media of how to seize an opportunity to recover part of an audience that could otherwise be lost, perhaps forever.