Using the ‘Second Screen’ to Your Marketing Advantage

Most of us have our smartphones or tablets (or both) nearby most of the time—especially

when engaging in more passive activities like watching TV, listening to music, or surfing the net. We’re all multitasking all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not.

Today’s smart brands are playing right into consumers’ hands (literally) and embracing these new habits. Tactics such as dedicated hash-tags, smartphone and tablet apps, and bonus mobile content are becoming the norm. But there have also been some mistakes— QR code on a TV screen? Not going to work. SMS disaster due to a very confusing short code? Forget it. And that embarrassingly long URL? Not paying attention.

The advent of the “second screen” is forcing marketers to rethink their media strategy—right, wrong or indifferent. A few simple steps, will you get on the right path:

  1. Know your audience
    You may be inclined to take the easy way out by copying other brands’ second screen success. But, remember that what works for one audience, may not work for yours. If your Twitter following or its engagement is dismal, trying to force hash-tag based content doesn’t seem like option 1. However, if your mobile site boasts great traffic, then optimize content or even create a mobile microsite dedicated to your second screen fans. Point being, reinforce behaviors, don’t force them.
  2. Make it simple
    Don’t overthink your strategy. QR codes are a great example of overcomplicating a mobile experience, as they force consumers to engage in a non-native mobile behavior—often leading to frustration. On the same hand, while SMS marketing is intended to tap into text messaging behavior, asking people to text foreign, non-memorable numbers is not simple and easy.Whenever possible, emphasize your brand or desired action within the call-to-action, such as simple web addresses, short branded phone numbers or easy-to-remember Twitter handles and/or hash-tags. Providing the shortest distance between your consumer and brand, no matter which channel they are accessing you from, is imperative to increasing engagement.
  3. Be relevant
    Everyone wants to provide more relevant content, at the right moment to consumers. The mobile device is a natural vehicle for this type of achievement, as with the right technology, you can provide customized offers and content by device type, geographical location, time of day/day of week, new vs. returning visitor, and so on.For example, promoting app downloads over and over isn’t appropriate for those who already downloaded it. Instead, try offering a new second screen push that gives them a reason to access the app, such exclusive content, coupons, interviews with the cast, or never-before-seen bloopers.
  4. Engage, and Re-engage
    Simply boosting the number of consumers engaging your second screen content isn’t the final stop. Take a television show, whose fan base is likely watching on a weekly basis, so offering new and relevant content week-to-week is imperative to reengagement. Tactics such “unlocking special content” after a number of check-ins, or placing new codes/content after a certain number of commercials, and even consistent updating of the mobile or tablet apps, are all necessary steps to keeping your audience on your side, time and time again.

The second screen offers an abundance of brand opportunities, but as with most marketing initiatives, you have to make it work for your audience.