Recently a class discussion focused on the online marketing presence of a brand and it occurred to me that there is one brand which has done an extraordinary job of embracing new and emerging media, Bravo! If you are unfamiliar with the brand, Bravo television is a cable TV network owned by NBC Universal a subsidiary of Comcast, currently Comcast # 44 on Forbes Fortune 50 list. Originally launched in 1980, the channel was transformed into the channel we know today in 2003- with a new line up and the landmark series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. Bravo has come a long way from its earlier roots as an art and indie film commercial free premium channel. Today, Bravo is a channel focused on pop culture, owning the rights to some of the most successful reality TV series, Top Chef and the Real Housewives franchise. Bravo TV has embraced social media to such a degree, that it has revolutionized the way reality television is produced.
While most marketers when integrating social media into their marketing plan, use Facebook as the foundation of their social marketing campaign; Bravo TV is known for its very limited use of Facebook. Twitter is the primary forum utilized by Bravo to connect to its many audiences. The channel, television program, and reality television stars all have their individual Twitter handles. Bravo’s homepage features a Tweet tracker app, where fans can follow trending tweets and possibly be featured on the site’s homepage. Bravo TV also features a Tweet Battle app on their site, where twitter fans submit a tweet in regards to their favorite show, another fan tweets an opposing tweet, and the tweet battle begins. The winner of the tweet battle is chosen by other users who choose the winner. The use of Twitter in this manner is unique and drives traffic to its various pages (Friedman, 2011). Bravo TV also uses blogs, where their reality TV stars post about their ongoing dramas, thoughts, or just expand on the weeks’ episode. Through their use of social media Bravo TV’s audience personally connects with the network and its stars further increasing the Bravo’s brand equity. Bravo previously partnered with Foursquare, giving away badges and promotions to its Foursquare followers.
Most notably, Bravo TV utilizes social media not just to market its programming but to drive content on its reality TV series. Andy Cohen, the former Executive Vice President of Development and Talent for Bravo TV, hosts a live nightly late night show, Watch What Happens Live. The show is live and its content is predominantly viewer generated via social media postings. Live tweets are read on the show and currently trending tweet questions are answered in real time. The show completely integrates social media in its formatting.
The network also relies heavily on social media research to develop programming, to determine which of their reality TV cast members have star potential, and even to determine the production of on air promos. Bravo research executive Tony Cardinale told the New York Times in an interview, “We do a lot of passive listening, lurking on the Web, interpreting the themes we see on our message boards, etcetera. There’s more information we have now than we’ve ever had before.” And Amy Troiano, Bravo executive in charge of on-air promotions says, “We definitely look at the research to see what parts of those characters people are responding to. If viewers like when they’re yelling at someone, we’ll use them yelling.” Bravo TV has revolutionized reality television and the development of programming in that it is primarily user generated.
To further increase their reach and build stronger brand-audience relationships Bravo has recently unveiled social and digital initiatives for 2014 which embrace many of the recent emerging trends. In April, bravo began to test its Select a Scene option on its Play Live online feature. Select a Scene allows viewers to decide which scene or point of view they would like to see, directly influencing on-air programing. The unscripted format further creates a user generated programming format. Bravo also plans to continue to expand into mobile with its Mobile Pass. A first in the industry, Mobile Pass delivers content that allows sponsors to connect directly with Bravo fans using geo targeted alerts for coupons and special offers when they are close by. The exclusive content will include real-time message alerts about events happening on-air, fan and cast member Q&A’s, social media recaps from talent, and advance access to show content. To further add value and incentives for audience engagement, Bravo plans to continue to use Social Commercial. Social Commercials focus on fan recognition through on air vignettes. Bravo’s integration of new and emerging media set an example of how to do it right. What do you think, is Bravo getting right?