Coachella and the future of social TV

I experienced the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival from my living room along with tens of thousands of others around the world who tweeted, blogged, and otherwise hustled content about the annual music festival as artists ranging from Bon Iver to the resurrected Tupac Shakur lit up the California desert. My experience and others like mine suggest that social TV really means the social screen. And consumer participation in social TV can mean a lot more than TV viewers taking interactive pools and responding to trivia contests. Rather, advertisers should pay closer attention to our consumers’ roles as content hustlers.

So far, advertisers have associated social TV with viewers tweeting and Facebooking about the content they’re watching. But for me the real fun of Coachella occurred when I went beyond tweeting the predictable “OMG Tupac is back!” and started capturing high-resolution screen shots of the live stream and posted them on my Facebook wall and Twitter account in real time. I became a real-time Coachella photo essayist, entertaining night owls like Vanessa Franko, who included one of my screen grabs in her Coachella Storify:

Brands can join the fun easily in real time, too, sponsoring social participants as we report on major events from our living rooms (“This Coachella livestream sponsored by PepsiCo”). The big-name bloggers probably don’t need to co-brand with advertisers. But a savvy brand would do well to build a network of lesser known influencers who together can create a ripple effect, as the research of Duncan Watts suggests.

Content hustlers like me are happy to accommodate, as we share content from major events like Coachella and the Grammy Awards across our digital living rooms.