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November 15, 2012

Socially Speaking: Oxygen Media's Digital-First Strategy

It’s no secret that women over-index on social media. So for networks like Oxygen Media which target a largely female demographic, engaging consumers in the social space is imperative.
 
“That’s where people are today,” said Harleen Kahlon, Senior Vice President, Digital, Oxygen Media at Digital Hollywood NYC on Thursday. And “women are really good at sharing…We see the social graph as a massive opportunity,” she said.
 
The network’s strategy leads with creating original content for digital platforms that is shareable on social networks. “In the past, we would get a standard set of assets,” such as behind-the-scenes pics from shows. But the strategy has since shifted toward a digital-first mindset. “Digital content is not an afterthought,” said Kahlon.
 
On almost all its shows, Oxygen has begun embedding photographers on set who take thousands of photos for sharing on Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr and other platforms. They’re even embedding digital producers. “That person actually goes to the set and captures behind-the-scenes footage,” said Kahlon. Additionally, the network is putting a lot of energy into content analysis, with the goal of determining what content works best for digital and what will be most frequently shared.
 
While traditional social networks like Facebook and Twitter are used widely by Oxygen’s audience, one of the network's shows gets the most traction from Tumblr. It has been promoting a new model series called “The Face” on the platform. That’s when the embedded photographer’s work becomes incredibly useful. “There’s a huge fashion crowd on Tumblr,” said Kahlon. Moreover, she finds its users to be more engaged and diligent. “There’s something to be said about these platforms that are a little more niche.”
 
Important as ever is the content’s “pass-along value,” said Tania Yuki, Founder and CEO, Shareablee. Brands need to carve out their “ideal compositional mix,” which balances promotional posts with entertaining and interesting content that’s valuable to users. She has noticed a transition from brands posting only commerce calls-to-action to incorporating more sharable content.
 
When it comes to ROI directly related to social media efforts, Oxygen has not seen a lot of money rolling in—despite its ranking as the 2nd most social TV network out there, according to Kahlon. “We’re still a little bit behind on the monetization side," she said, as is the case with most TV networks. "Social buzz, at least for us, is not really translating to a lot of ad dollars.” But she insisted that the monetization will catch up soon. Given that approximately 80% of Oxygen’s RFPs request some sort of social component—that’s twice the amount of last year—she’s not worried. The net is starting to explore ecommerce, which we’ll see some of next year. However, it’s important not to annoy your consumers with continuous “buy now!” commands. “At this stage, for us I don’t think the return would be significant enough to intrude on that experience,” Kahlon said. In the short term, brands have to focus on the engagement aspect.
 







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