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Thirteen/WNET exec: Broadcasters should stray from apps

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NEW YORK – A Thirteen/WNET executive speaking at Mobile Commerce Daily’s fifth annual Nonprofit Mobile Day discussed how the public television station is leveraging a responsive Web design in reaction to the mobile transition that is greatly affecting brands on digital platforms and how it produces and distributes content connected to these brands.

The entire digital space has been a challenge for broadcast because being known for multiple programs requires thoughtfulness on best practices to put brands forward and how consumers come in contact with them on mobile, social media and other digital touch points as they deal with an audience that isn’t familiar with the broadcaster, and causes them to introduce themselves for the first time.

“The introduction of that brand hierarchy is especially important for us and how we communicate that in something like a smartphone is a whole other consideration we took for granted with broadcast,” said Joe Harrell, director digital strategy, Thirteen/WNET.

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Apps or mobile sites?
Mobile optimized sites are viewable by everyone with a mobile browser regardless of operating system or choice of hardware. A broad mobile presence allows a broadcaster like Thirteen/WNET to address a substantial percentage of public media supporters that engage from smartphones, while apps compartmentalize those viewers and may attract a different demographic of users against average Website vistors.

Thirteen/WNET has leveraged those differences to make them part of its mobile strategy.

“Ninety to ninety-five percent of time apps are not the best use of our resources,” Mr. Harrell sad.

“The app marketplace is very crowded; it is very difficult and often expensive to actually build an audience for an app, so we’ve been very judicious in how much app development we commit to.”

“You have upgrades, diversification of platforms whether it’s between Android and iOS , there are so many factors that go into apps so we steer our partners towards our current marketing mix and making it mobile friendly,” he said.

With that is a commitment to responsive design.

All of Thirteen/WNET’s sites are built with responsive design and use a design and development process that investigates what the experience will look like on every screen size, and optimizes its layout for whatever platform a user is on.

“We know that is crucial for us for because over 30 percent of our traffic on these sites prior to deploying responsive was coming from mobile platforms, and that’s always going up.”

Managing content appeal on social
Social media is mobile.

On some platforms at least 50 percent of the interactions that happened derive from a mobile device. Building upon social media for the next generation of pubic media users is how Thirteen/WNET connects with its audience.

Mr. Harrell shared five guiding principles of social media which are at the core of his mobile strategy.

Harness a unique, likeable brand voice(s):

This is something that is often forgotten about when talking about posting on Instagram or in an email, where marketers are blind to ensuring people who engage with media out of context are able to recognize that it is part of the ethos of a larger channel.

Engage online communities such as Reddit, Tumblr, Vine and Snapchat:

The targeting is there and the presence of niche communities exists that are a highly engaged audience you want to reach.

Always consider social shareability:

Part of producing content that has a title someone can recognize when scrolling on mobile pertains in relevance to an ADD culture which is more prevalent on mobile than desktop.


Content similar to Buzzfeed

“We try to think about headlines shrinking in depth articles as a two second opportunity to engage somebody on a mobile device,” Mr. Harrell said.

Think and speak visually

If a broadcaster is trying to build buzz around a show or documentary, they think about a single image or quote that will resonate and connect consumers with that show the most, as engagement and entertainment trumps marketing.


Popular lines from an Alice Walker documentary

“The public media experience especially for a younger digital native is no longer won on broadcast,” Mr. Harrell said.

“This is our first big play at trying to engage those people in a meaningful way that will help sustain what we are trying to do as an organization.”

 Final Take

Michelle Saettler is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer and Mobile Commerce Daily, New York. Reach her at michelle@mobilemarketer.com.

 
Related content: Media, Thirteen, WNET, Joe Harrell, mobile, mobile marketing

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