Second Screening: Engaging Customers Across Multiple Touch Points


As human beings, our brains are intrinsically wired to connect with others. This explains why smartphones and tablets are so popular and widely used. They provide us with a window into the lives of other people and allow us to make contact with those people at the touch of a button. The addiction is so strong that we even use these devices to connect with others during live or televised events. In fact, 87% of consumers have admitted to using another device while watching TV, according to research by Accenture.

So why do we do this? Well, ‘second screening’ lets us contribute to conversations on a national or international scale, gauge the opinions of others and feel part of something bigger than ourselves. It is the ‘cock-tail’ party effect. An insights report by the New York Times found that 85% of people believe that reading other peoples’ responses helps them to understand and process information and events. Emotional and outrageous moments especially increase the need for social connection. For example, when Uruguayan football player Louis Suarez bit Italian defender, Giorgio Chiellini, at the 2014 World Cup, he generated 2.8 million mentions on social media.Second-Screening-Engaging-Customers-Across-Multiple-Touch-Points-1

But how can brands take advantage of this need to connect through shared moments? Well, the first step is acknowledging that connecting with audiences via the ‘second screen’ is just as important as doing it via the ‘first screen.’ You can pay for beautiful, strategically placed advertising at a football game, but if you’re not adding to the noise about Suarez’ moment of madness, you are missing a trick. You have to cater to all the different touch points accessible to your audience. Once you have accepted this fact, you can start planning your digital strategy.

During live events, the timing of brand engagement via the ‘second screen’ matters. It must be in real time, and you must think about the type of content to share. This will very much depend on what your audience wants. At Brandwatch, we have defined three types of audience:

The Adrenaline Junkies

Adrenaline junkies want the rush of big moments in real time. If they are not actually at an event, they would still like to feel the roar of the crowd in real time. Brands can meet these needs by streaming an event or sharing video footage via their channels. This allows an at-home audience to participate in the energy and rituals of the show or game.

The Broadcasters

This type of person wants to broadcast cool content to their network before anyone else. They are keen to have their voice heard and to be seen as a trusted source of information. Brands can appeal to this audience by making credible content easy to access. Any interactions should be quick and seamless.

The Connectors

Connectors want to use the ‘common language’ around an event to build social connections in the world away from the event or the TV. They are keen to be armed with information for social situations. If brands can collect and share snackable facts and trivia, this should go down well with connectors. Partnering with creative types, or influencers, could help when trying to display content in interesting and engaging ways.

Identify the type of audience that has the most in common with your customer and tailor content accordingly. But don’t forget that no matter how engaging your content is, it will have little impact if not shared at the right moment. A great example of a brand that got this just right is Oreo Cookie at the 2013 Super Bowl. As the power went down at the Superdome, Oreo tweeted reassuring its followers not to panic during the blackout because “You can still dunk in the dark.” The message, which people viewed via the ‘second screen,’ was retweeted over 10,000 times in one hour, leaving many to wonder whether it had greater payoff than Oreo’s actual Super Bowl ad displayed on the ‘first screen.’

But good timing doesn’t always have to be quite as clever as that. Sometimes it is just about making sure you respond to customers in real time. We looked at the social media activity of 38 of the world’s largest broadcasting channels to find which was most successful at creating connections with their audiences. After some analysis, we identified MTV as the fastest to reply to social media messages with an average response time of 1.5 minutes from 7,907.56 average daily mentions. This quick response time means MTV is diligently catering to the needs of its customers through more than one touchpoint.

Once you have identified your audience, accepted that a multi-channel approach is best, and started pushing out great content in real time, you can use social listening tools to analyse and identify any reactions. Social analysis helps brands to cut through the chatter to see what people really think (or need) and tailor communications accordingly. You can only improve customer engagement by reviewing and revising your strategy as much as possible.

So, in conclusion, ‘second screening’ is here to stay as it feeds our human need to connect through shared moments. Who knows? In the next few years, we may even see the rise of ‘third screening’ and ‘fourth screening.’ The secret to mastering engagement through multiple screens is to acknowledge the trend, identify your audience, push out relevant content in real time and assess your efforts on a regular basis.