How Social Media Is Changing the DRTV Landscape

by Allison Givens on Mar 31, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, DRTV

How_Social_Media_Is_Changing_the_DRTV_Landscape-728306-edited.jpgIf there is one topic of conversation everyone is talking about and has their vision about, it’s the changing landscape of DRTV.

I use that last phrase—“changing landscape of DRTV”—probably a couple dozen times in a week (and will probably use it here a few times—count ’em!) while speaking with anyone from long-time clients, to friends in the industry to potential new business contacts.

Working in a multitude of spaces, this change is different for everyone—the rapid growth of social media, the decline of the traditional television model, struggling to find the right place for your company in the digital selling space, and so on—and it has hit some of us already and only begun to creep up on others in the international DRTV community. It’s forced many of us to make changes, adapt and modify our models. This can be hard, but it’s also an opportunity to grow into something better.

This changing landscape is exciting. Dealing almost exclusively in the international arena, Williams Worldwide Television has a unique view—a majority of our supplier clients are based in the U.S. and our distribution partners are based in over 80 global markets. We see how this changing landscape has an effect on the entire global DRTV community and while there is a wide range of topics that can be discussed on the matter, I will focus on one here: Social media promotion.

I spend a majority of my time searching for new products—as you may guess by my title. I look high and low, domestic and global, for the next hot item, but a trend I am seeing coming out of the U.S. is that more inventors and product owners are foregoing the traditional direct response model of making a television spot or infomercial and opting to reach their audience directly via social media (Facebook and Instagram being the most popular).

This isn’t exactly breaking news—the growth of social media marketing is not a new phenomenon. However, for our distribution partners, they still find the most success in the traditional DRTV model—television (long-form, in most-but-not-all markets) still drives the campaign, while retail, online, and social media are used as support.

So, what to do with an influx of new, exciting products that just don’t fit in our model each time? We find opportunities.

When speaking about Internet and social media use, the U.S. isn’t even leading the pack.

According to We Are Social’s January 2016 report, the U.S. (included in the North America region) has 315 million Internet users, well behind Western Europe (345 million), Africa (349 million), South Asia (480 million) and East Asia (867 million).

The Asia-Pacific market is by far the fastest growing market. In 2015 alone, this tech-savvy region has seen a 12 percent (199 million) growth among Internet users, and the use of social media has grown by 14 percent (145.8 million). This tells us that there is a way to reach these customers outside of our traditional model. The difficult part is identifying how to infiltrate and have a positive interaction with these potential customers.


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Researching new social media platforms and influencers is key. You want to make sure to find the right medium to promote your product. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram have the highest usage rates in both domestic and international markets, but you also have to keep your eye on niche platforms like Pinterest and Tumblr.


Charts via

With the right platform, you need the right partner. Working with social media influencers has been a rewarding challenge. As you would expect, there are significant differences between working with established marketing companies and influencers, who, for the most part, operate independently. You must find someone who has the reach, authority, and trust of their audience to successfully promote and sell a product while solely relying on them to handle all aspects of the day-to-day operation—payment processing, order fulfillment, etc. When you get it to work, this can become a very profitable and valuable relationship.

One last thing to keep in mind: Not all categories work through social media. Beauty/health/lifestyle reign supreme because of the volume of influencers available and the popularity of these topics among people of all ages. It is also an area that requires trust in those selling—young men and women going to Instagram to watch weekly makeup and skincare haul videos want to know the products—which can be very expensive—work and are worth the investment.

While it has changed, the landscape is not much different: We have only expanded our reach and extended our partner base. Now we are able to offer more services to our suppliers and even our distributors by utilizing social media to sell and supplement existing campaigns. This changing landscape will only bring a world of new possibilities if you’re ready to embrace them.

“Changing landscape” phrase count: 5
(Not too bad for one day…)

Opening image by samuiblue/

Allison Givens is Product Acquisition Manager at Williams Worldwide Television.

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