CNN, NBC Up Social Ante with Facebook Partnerships

Partnering with Facebook for a marketing campaign isn’t an above-the-fold, Page 1 news story in itself. But when within 24 hours two huge media companies announce partnerships with the social network around two of the biggest events of 2012—the Olympics and the presidential election—that’s headline news.

On Tuesday, July 9, CNN announced it was teaming up with Facebook during the presidential election to offer “an interactive and uniquely social experience for CNN’s on-air, mobile and online audiences and Facebook’s more than 160 million U.S. users,” according to a release posted on CNN. Facebook, says the release, will serve as the “second screen” for CNN during the presidential run, and will allow the network to take the pulse of voters while allowing the electorate to share their thoughts and feelings around the candidates and issues on Facebook. Central to the effort is a “I'm Voting” Facebook app, which will enable users to commit to voting and endorse specific candidates and issues.

Today, NBC and Facebook are expected to officially announce an Olympic Games partnership similar to the CNN deal, in which the NBC Olympics Facebook page will be updated with “exclusive content” for fans only, says a New York Times report. Fans will be able to share videos and articles with their Facebook friends, driving more awareness of the Games and possibly drawing more people to the NBC broadcast platform.

These two partnerships signal more than just fan engagement: For CNN and NBC, the agreements mark an “all-in” social media push. Embarking on major social initiatives during two critical ratings periods signals that platforms like Facebook and Twitter are becoming fully integrated into big media communications arsenals. In addition, CNN and NBC will be able to tap Facebook’s metrics for greater insights into how Facebook fans can be directed to broadcast, and vice versa.

For Facebook, the meaning of these partnerships could even be greater. Rocked by negativity around its IPO and the pulling of ads by General Motors, the social network is now in stabilizing mode. The new agreements serve as statements to its shareholders, corporate America and the public that Facebook is more relevant—and effective—than ever.

Follow Scott Van Camp: @svancamp01