As television becomes more digital, people do not simply consume content on different social platforms, they start sharing it. As television shows continue to release articles and reviews about the show, fans increasingly share interesting information about the show such as trailers and clips. Those shows that are therefore discussed via social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are more likely to have higher ratings than shows that are not.
It is no surprise that people are tweeting about TV shows and creating Facebook statuses about them, but data from Nielsen has produced the first reliable data set deducing the fact that there is actually a correlation between social noise and television ratings.
The worldwide chatter that takes place around TV shows and the viewer’s feelings and opinions on them demonstrates to us their preferences and behaviours. According to an exclusive poll by The Hollywood Reporter, 88% of respondents said that they viewed Twitter, Facebook and other social networks as a form of entertainment.
Twitter has now become so powerful that “breaking news” tends to break first in the form of the tweet. There have been many occasions on which I have woken to find something drastic has happened around the world yet have not done more than pick up my phone.
It is hard to avoid becoming socially involved on programs, as a huge number of them now cut to a break with a quick flash of their hashtag (eg. #hollyoaks) and many programs also show the Twitter handle of the person talking in case you wish to follow them or simply state your opinion on them.
Chloe Sladden, Twitter’s director of media partnerships, once said, “Twitter lets people feel plugged in to a real-time conversation. In the future, I can’t imagine a major event where the audience doesn’t become part of the story itself.”
The future of television does depend upon how engaging the content is, how shareable it is and how captivating it will be for those who wish to discuss it via social media. Engagement during shows and events creates a sense of community amongst those involved. It works both offline and online and social media is the glue that brings people together.
Programs like the GRAMMYs and the Jubilee concert gained larger live audiences due to the content of the programs/events and the ability for a community to be formed through social media networks.
There have also been TV shows that encourage live social media participation. Some programs read out tweets about the program after a certain topic has been discussed or a certain person has been interviewed and some feature the statistics gathered from social media as part of the show.
The future of TV and social media is not yet known but visions are in place – how interactive will it be and how much of a community can be formed? We have seen what is possible so far but what happens next may still be beyond our expectations.