It’s not just shorter, fit-for-YouTube content that depends on social media to gauge an audience’s likes and dislikes. For some traditional nets, social media is a part of the creative process, too—provided the audience is young enough. Take ABC Family, which has had a lot of success with Millennials. “It’s important to be an audience whisperer,” said EVP, Original Series Programming & Development, Kate Juergens. “We can really get very quick feedback. We talk to them all the time through Facebook and our other social media about what’s coming up, what we have planned… It’s become an ongoing dialogue with our audience.”
 
The numbers are impressive: ABC’s “Pretty Little Liars” Facebook fan page has more than 6 million fans and its Twitter handle has more then 200,000 followers. The net’s total Facebook outreach across all series is 16.5 million fans and Twitter followers number at 550,000. But this approach may not work for an older audience, who aren’t accustomed to interacting that way, Juergens warns. “A younger audience expects and demands that you communicate with them constantly…. They invented social media.”
 
For new media brands raised on Internet audiences like Cenk Ugyur’s “The Young Turks,” which now has a show on Current TV (premiered Dec. 5) and two dedicated YouTube channels in the works, social media interaction is a no-brainer. “Social media is in our DNA. We do it without even thinking about it.” And it’s not just for their Internet audiences, he said. A part of Ugyur’s weekly cable show is dedicated to viewers comments and questions, which he regularly considers to make programming choices. “The most common request we got was to cover the Bradley Manning trial. So in the last segment of our television show we’ve been covering the Bradley Manning trial,” said Ugyur. “We don’t just robotically read out tweets… We’re actually responsive, we actually go back and forth.”
 
What social interaction between creator and audience shouldn’t be is a hassle, said Ugyur. “I think a lot of old media views viewer interaction as a pain in the ass. We got to do this thing, we got to get a producer who looks at these tweets and Facebook and they can’t figure it out.” You can’t follow every tweet or comment, he said, but en masse they’re incredibly useful. “They’re the world’s largest focus group.”
 

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