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Social TV draws big crowds at SXSW

SXSW covers just about every interactive topic under the sun, but social TV made an unusually large splash at the annual Austin event. The first social TV session was packed to capacity 15 minutes before it began. With 40 people still waiting in line outside (right), New York Times writer Jennifer Preston quickly organized a second session right next door, dubbing it #rebelTV.

A day later, the same group from the original social TV panel — including Twitter’s Chloe Sladden — held the panel all over again at the CNN Grill. Again, the venue was packed to capacity.

This is just one indication of the growing popularity of social TV, from second screens to check-ins. At the session, Sladden declared that linear TV is far from dead, but is making a resurgence. “Every tweet is a perfect little marketing message for your show,” she said. “Twitter and television have a unique relationship.” Mentioning Jersey Shore and Real Housewives as examples (see our earlier story), Sladden said that real-time conversations can help draw people out of DVRs into live TV again.

Also on the panel, Travel Channel’s Fred Graver talked about Twitter integration with No Reservations (story), and Jimmy Fallon Show’s Gavin Purcell discussed how they tap social media with “Late Night Hashtags” (story.) CNN’s Lila King explained how iReport sees two waves of eyewitness submissions — one wave immediately after a story breaks and another that’s motivated from watching the coverage.

One of the most interesting part of the panel was the suggestion that TV shows need to hire “community managers” or “second screen VJs” in new programming/marketing roles. And everyone recognized the challenge of synchronizing social media with three different time zones (no easy answers here.)

Here’s a short video summarizing the session:

We attended another packed session on social TV, and we’ll be posting that soon.

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