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From the 1st Annual Shorty Social Good Awards

Point Taken: Civil debate through social media

Entered in News & Media

About this entry

In a year filled with contentious political rhetoric, Point Taken is a multi-platform initiative that integrates digital, social, and broadcast television to create a new forum for civil debate. Bringing together diverse viewpoints, hard facts, humor, and convincing arguments, this new public television series seeks to revitalize thoughtful, respectful discourse in our democracy while empowering the public to join the conversation.

Point Taken's inaugural season was driven by four goals:

1. Affect a shift of minds or opening or perspectives through persuasive arguments.

2. To champion civil debate – talking with each other, not to each other.

3. To give new voices a platform to have their perspectives heard.

4. Employ innovation and fresh tactics for a new kind of debate.

These four goals informed our broadcast, digital, and social media strategies in a way that delivered an integrated experience for the viewer or fan, no matter what platform they may choose to consume the show.

Why does this entry deserve to win?

Through a tailored but integrated presence on multiple platforms, targeting specific audiences, Point Taken's social media strategy focused on extending the show's reach and involving the audience in an authentic and engaging way.

The first season of Point Taken ran from April 5 to June 28, 2016. Hosted by journalist and entrepreneur Carlos Watson, Point Taken infused viewers' voices into an entertaining, yet substantive debate between two opposing panels.

The importance of social media was woven into the DNA of the production from the start, as a means to empower the audience to participate in the conversation. Through experimentation of a multi-platform "engagement arc" strategy, social media was used to identify and listen to resonating discussions; to reach out to and involve the important voices in each conversation; to inspire a civil debate responding to our own Point Taken question; to reflect that conversation on the national PBS broadcast; and to deliver a powerful experience natively on each social platform on which the audience engaged with us.

In relation to broadcast, social media was used to identify and tap into the conversations happening and inform and shape the narrative of the show itself. The social media team was very much part of the editorial core of Point Taken, and constructive exchanges and valuable points made on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and other social platforms were integrated into the script. Furthermore, Point Taken consulted Facebook's data team prior to each week's taping to see what conversations were resonating across the country and what interesting data points could be incorporated into the broadcast discussion, based on what the Facebook audience was passionate about.

While real-time engagement with the show was possible, the vast majority of our target audience was consuming content during the day. This insight drove our strategy to be platform-specific: Instead of using social to tease tune-in, our efforts delivered a meaningful experience natively on the fan's social platform of choice. Our efforts on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and GIPHY were able to find and tap into those passionately invested in each topic, all the while building a strong core audience. Someone interested in transgender rights could now get involved in the Point Taken discussion on Twitter while standing on the subway. And a teenager on a "Snapstreak" could respond to the question "Is technology making us dumber or smarter?" that was posed to him by a Snapchat account he follows.


Point Taken's social media team exceeded expectations during its first season by championing civil debate, creating new opportunities for advancing dialogue, and building strong relationships with audiences without access to (or interest in) television.

Goal #1: Social polling captured a tangible impact among viewers with 5,600 votes cast on Twitter. An average of 14% of those polled reporting their minds changed after watching the debate.

Goal #2: From our explainer videos, Facebook Live broadcasts, and full episodes, social video was the secret to catalyzing thoughtful comments. Host Carlos Watson emphasized the importance of Facebook Live broadcasts as a way for audiences to interact directly with that week's panelists.

Goal #3: Each topic was coupled with social listening, research, and outreach. Whether in a Facebook Group or Reddit thread, our social team added value to these conversations using unique social content. Topic experts were invited to play a larger role in the conversation through weekly Twitter chats.

Goal #4: Point Taken experimented with ways to incorporate social media and the traditional broadcast. Point Taken was the first PBS production to engage younger audiences with Snapchat geofilters, and one of the first in the industry to stream full episodes on Facebook. The team used this opportunity to better understand how Facebook audiences engage with long-form content.


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