Social Media are to the web what multi-channel programming was to television. They have exploded through an interactive experience, be it sharing digital information or being able to select viewing channels from a large range.
But social media have done even more than that. We can see today that Twitter, Facebook and tools like YouTube are actually influencing the way TV programs are created and conducted. For example, all the reality shows that are hugely popular in the UK and USA, like The X-Factor, Britain’s Got Talent or Strictly Come Dancing are using Twitter hashtags # to promote their show, and every show these days has a Facebook page to interact with the viewers, allow them to vote etc.
The X Factor And Twitter
@TheXFactor in the UK, which has just picked its 2012 winner in singer-songwriter James Arthur, has 2.408.683 followers posting 19.252 tweets as of today. It’s also on the back of these, and of 1.225.113 Twitter followers that Arthur, an unknown quantity from Yorkshire, not only won the show but also sold over 255.000 copies of hit single “Impossible”, the fastest selling UK single of 2012.
Social networks build on TV’s recognized reaching capacity by making contact. Stars come alive, fans have a role, following and interacting, so it’s a reciprocal feed: TV-social media- TV. The fan is no longer a passive viewer, he/she is part of the show.
Youtube And Classic Tv
What about the relationship between YouTube and classic TV? Contrary to some expectations, YouTube works as an extension of TV rather than as a competitor. It amplifies a program’s or video’s reach and acts as an unofficial advertiser for it. Again the key is sharing. I can show my friends how cool Messi’s latest goal is (and how cool I am in following it up on YouTube). YouTube’s success lies in it being an integration of TV through pcs and mobiles. In fact it wouldn’t probably exist without TV. Broadcasting is the first seed, and YouTube and others make it germinate.
Blogs too have an impact on the traditional “broadcast” media of the press and web. They are in fact reshaping journalism. While journalists’ blogs on newspaper websites are obviously tied to the paper’s content, blogs in general allow users to freely express their views on relevant issues. Journalists have their own blogs and are active on Twitter where they interact with their followers, often for research purposes. Celebrities being ubiquitous, they also use blogs (notably Lady Gaga, the world’s absolute n° 1 for Facebook friends), be they artists, celeb chefs or sports stars.
Platforms like Tumblr, by creating a base from which content can spring off and be shared, are an essential part of this process. Again the focus is on interactivity and large-scale distribution, in conjunction with a traditional broadcast medium, the press in this case.
If social media have had a defining impulse in creating a new relationship with the TV viewer, the broadcasting channels themselves haven’t been idle either. What started with low interactivity (zapping between channels) went on to medium (the first movies on demand) to today’s high interactivity, when an audience member can influence the broadcast program. Beyond this there is two-screen interactivity, when the viewer can synchronize a second video device (tablet, mobile phone) to the TV show and play games and interact live.
Examples of TV programs that are actually made to be interactive are “Accidental Lovers”, for which viewers can send mobile text messages to the broadcast and the plot transforms on the basis of the keywords picked from the messages. Or Global Television Network, which offers a multi-monitor interactive game for Big Brother 8 (US) ”‘In The House’”, which allows viewers to predict who will win each competition. Viewers login to the Global website to play, with no downloads required.
It is obvious then that social media have built on broadcast media’s reach to augment their own interactivity, while broadcast media in general are adapting to this by both allowing social media to come into play in their shows and by trying out new forms of interactivity with viewers.
This post is written by Mark Jenkins and he works at CouponAudit as a writer.