What associations can learn from TV show “The Voice” and TV network QVC

Ha ha. I can only imagine what you’re thinking right now, but I promise there’s an important lesson here to be learned (at the very least, considered).

This past weekend, I had a bit of time on my hands. I started by catching up on past episodes of “The Voice.” For those that don’t know, “The Voice” is an American Idol-style singing competition inviting vocalists from across the country to compete in three stages of competition: the blind audition, a battle phase and the live performance shows.

Celebrity musician coaches include Christina Aguilera, Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine and Blake Shelton. Additionally, Carson Daly—best known for his gig as a VJ on MTV’s TRL—serves as the program’s host. What I find most fascinating, however, is that Christina Milian has joined the lineup this season as the show’s social media correspondent.

What does she do, you ask?

Well, that’s simple. Milian is tasked with bridging the on-air experience with the online experience, bringing viewers closer to the competition. Fans are able to experience and engage in each step of the process through exclusive interviews, video, photos, news about the coaches and artists, and a live Twitter feed.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have a television network like QVC. You may know that QVC is one of the largest multimedia retailers in the world. It broadcasts live in the U.S. 24 hours a day, 364 days a year, and presents approximately 1,150 products on air every week. Over the years, QVC has enjoyed record-breaking sales, has received countless industry awards and has donated millions of dollars to charity.

But that’s not the end of the story.

QVC established its Facebook page in July 2008 and its Twitter page in January 2009. Attracting a large social following, QVC now integrates these platforms into its live shows, instantaneously responding to customer feedback and inquiries. In fact, the most popular weekly shows have a designated social media host that engages with the audience right alongside the traditional program host.

And it’s about more than just chatting live with viewers (or getting them to buy more products). It’s about engagement. It’s about community. It’s about culture. It’s about branding. It’s about creating a dynamic viewer experience that’s fun, informative, unique and personal. And, ultimately, it’s this direct connection to the QVC staff that keeps viewers coming back each week (and, presumably, spending more money).

And these are just two simple examples of social media hard at work in our day-to-day lives (outside of the workplace). Other competition shows like “Dancing with the Stars,” “American Idol” and “Fashion Star” have also followed suit. This makes me think seriously about the opportunities within our own associations to better leverage the social media experience.

How would a dedicated social media correspondent change the face of your next program or event? Not only could this person reach an audience of interested individuals unable to attend your conference (both members and non-members), but he or she could further engage your onsite participants, as well. Think about it: behind-the-scenes interviews; videos, photos and news about the speakers; and a live Twitter feed. Everyone’s fascinated by the story behind the story. How could you effectively leverage this content (and curiosity) during your association’s major annual meeting?

And the conversation wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) be confined to the conference itself. Social media correspondents would reach out to and actively engage with both prospective and confirmed participants long before the conference started, and conversations would continue long after the conference ended.

All too often I think we leave out our voices in the social media experience, allowing our members to take the lead in this space. And I’m not recommending that we take over or dominate this important platform; however, I think we—as association leaders—can bring additional content to this space that will further enhance the conference experience (not to mention the infinite possibilities that exist here for content curation, transfer of learning and recruitment/retention opportunities).

So, my question to you is this: How could this model impact your association’s next major annual meeting? What affect would this outreach have on the engagement of your current (or prospective) members? What resources would it take within your own organization to designate and train a qualified social media correspondent? (And, more importantly, if you’ve experimented with a similar format, please let us hear from you! We’d love to hear your experience.)

4 Responses to “What associations can learn from TV show “The Voice” and TV network QVC”

  1. April 18, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Aaron – Funny, I was just thinking about how Dancing with the Stars and American Idol are very good at community, in that they foster a loyalty of past participants (and their supporters), who attend live shows often, act as mentors and supporters to the new contestants, and support the overall mission of the contest/show.

  2. 2 lee.westell@gmail.com
    April 19, 2012 at 9:11 am

    This was a great post! I recently directed multiple social media campaigns for a trade association’s annual meeting and we used this idea of trying to give the members not only live content but also to tell the complete story of the meeting: the behind-the-story of events, what others were saying about sessions (I used Storify for the Twitter feed but Tumblr would be great, too) as well as trying to keep the convo going post- conference. It took some detailed preconference planning to get all the pieces in place including editorial calendars for content and creation of a grid to properly allocate staff responsibilities but it was worth it — a very successful meeting both for the association and meeting attendees as well as serving as a showcase to prospective members.

  3. April 26, 2012 at 10:11 am


    Great minds think alike! Looks like we (as associations) have a lot to learn from our reality TV counterparts.


    Thank you! And thanks for sharing your story. It sounds like a very comprehensive and well-orchestrated strategy for developing a more engaging conference experience that continued long after the closing session. As is always the case, a robust social media campaign (or just about any new service that goes above and beyond to benefit the members and improve their experience) takes more time and energy; however, it sounds like the allocation of resources was well worth it.

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meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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