Social media and television

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Social media technologies allow for television to be accessed and shared in a variety of ways. Viewers can actively participate while watching a program and have their interactions viewed and responded to in real time by other viewers. Technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers allow for these actions to occur anytime, anywhere, regardless of television air times. Television stations and programs have taken advantage of this new accessibility by incorporating aspects of social media into their programming and utilizing viewer comments to improve content. They are also sharing timely video clips from live TV on popular social platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat in order to generate additional advertising revenue.


Programs must decide on and promote a single hashtag for a show which in turn becomes the show's official hashtag when fans post about it. For example, the hashtag for Fox's Glee is #glee; for shows with longer titles such as FX network's American Horror Story, an abbreviated hashtag is created, #AHSFX.[1] Some shows get creative with their hashtags, Showtime's Shameless uses #TeamGallagher to promote their show, Gallagher being the last name of the family in the show. A show's hashtag is usually placed on the lower corners of the screen during new airings of the show. The first official integration between Twitter hashtags and television programs was during Comedy Central's March 15, 2011 roast of Donald Trump. Using the hashtag #TrumpRoast at the bottom of the screen, Twitter called it "the single deepest integration of a Twitter hashtag on air-ever." The promotion worked, as it generated the channel's most-watched Tuesday in history; the hashtag #trumproast was used over 27,000 times on Twitter during the show's initial broadcast.[2]

The rise in new media today, marketing tools have been greatly enriched than before. Currently the most important issue is that how properly uses a variety of media and using the media for their own advantage to do publicity; Media is divided into television media, online media and mobile media. Television media development is the longest and the most mature mechanism media, Internet media and mobile media are only just emerging in recent years, still have much development space, therefore only better close to the consumer to make better product sales.

Marketing refers to individuals or groups by creating and exchanging products and value with others to meet the needs and desires of a social and management processes. This definition includes the following core concepts: Need, wants, products. The foundation of the Social media and television marketing is the relationship chain. Constituent elements of society are people and organizations, and the key point of social community is able to call the chain of people and people, people and organizations and the organization and organizations. As now in the era of social networks and in the society of the growing Internet properties, the chain is undoubtedly the most important part of social media. A significant advantage of social media marketing is that users have high degree of confidence about the information, and the relationship chain is the reason of the high degree confidence. Only if we take the advantage of the social relationship chain, we are able to make use of the benefits of social media and television marketing. For instance, many enterprises to broaden people's awareness of their product through Facebook, Twitter and other social networking software. According to social media facts and statistics, "93% of marketers use social media for business." Firstly, social media mastered a lot of information about users. Not just some of the surface of things as age, work, etc. By analyzing the content which users share, retailers can effectively determine the user's preferences, habits and purchasing power and other information. In addition, retailing is buying and selling both goods and consumer services. There is no doubt retailers play the important role in the process. With the development of mobile Internet, Social networking users use mobile terminal increasingly high proportion, characteristics of the mobile Internet marketing will bring great change as well. Thus, by the target user's precise location and orientation of the population, obviously, advertising on social networks can receive the better results than the traditional media such as radio. In addition, the interactive nature of social media can narrow the distance between enterprise and users. Advertising which are shown on traditional media simply cannot receive the user's feedback, also one-way, not immediate and poor interaction sustainability, then companies and users of communication channels is not smooth. When social networking software uploading some advertising or news, retailers can see user's comment and feedback, social networks allow people to see the official account of enterprise as well. On these social media, business and consumers both are users. The feature of equality and facilitating communication of social media allows businesses and customers can achieve better interaction, so that it has created a good corporate brand image. Furthermore, with the popularity of social media and television, its characteristics are well reflected in society. And if companies can do the data analysis and processing of social media, they can receive great benefit from it. Through the social platforms of large amounts of data analysis and market research, companies can effectively dig out the needs of users, providing a good basis for market product design and development. For example, more than a half percentage of consumers share their purchases socially on Face book, Twitter and other social sites, therefore some suggestions would come up on their comments. When the supplier find there is amount of suggestions and opinions which on social networking sites, they can improve the design and development of products which is almost impossible to achieve before the emergence of social media and television.

With the rise of online digital media platforms such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and the increasing utilisation and devotion of time to these channels in households, the attention is turned away from traditional media forms, particularly television. Pagani and Mirabello (2012)[3] explain that this global shift in media preference has forced advertisers to brainstorm new, innovative ways of targeting the customer; as traditional media may not be the most effective channel anymore. Social media gives viewers justification to distract themselves while adverts are playing, thus, less people are watching television advertisements and the advertisers' clients are those who suffer in response.

Tactics and touchpoints[edit]

The exponential growth in the number of social media users over the past decade has made a noticeable effect on the way television shows gain publicity, though furthermore, how they interact and connect with their audiences on a global scale. Global, referring to the enabled ability of connecting ourselves with instantaneous newsfeed regardless of location or time differences. Neilson found that on average, 42% of respondents in a social media survey connect and communicate through digital media because they are interested in keeping up to date (2012).[4]

The increasing efficiency and ease of access to digital devices has enabled more direct interaction between television and their audiences. Spengler and Wirth (2009)[5] describe this interaction between a brand and their audience as 'Touchpoints' which are "Nothing other than the various contact points at which brands appear in public and are experienced by (potential) clients." Due to the phenomenon of enabling the "social practice of commenting on television shows with peers, friends, and unknown people" (Selva, 2016) audiences are all somewhat connected through the captivating world of digital media. Selva explains that television has transitioned from traditional media where dialogue is conveyed in a linear form, from the source to the receiver; to social and interactive media, where viewers have the power to "navigate content, access on-demand services, and customise supply" which is in theory, non-linear communication. (Vos, 2001, van Dijk et al., 2003, as cited in Selva, 2016). Ovum (2011, as cited in Savitz, 2011) found that "Almost 40% of TV viewers discuss particular TV shows via social media while they're watching them." To put that statement in a practical context, Ovum claim that "This is evidenced by the average 4.5 million tweets from this year's Super Bowl viewers."[6] The earliest form of social interactive television was that of BBC's "Any Questions?" which allowed viewers to call in via telephone, whereas, now there are various other forms in which television can touchpoint their audience.

Television Networks want this social television buzz to generate naturally. A strategy for increasing Internet traffic related to a single show is the placement of hashtags on the screen during dramatic moments, for example NBC's reality competition The Voice places #TheVoice on the screen during the part of the show where contestants get eliminated.[1] Another affective way to increase traffic is to use what is called a "madlib" hashtag, a hashtag that goes at the beginning of a post that starts a sentence a user can then finish. An example of this was the hashtag #WhatWillGagaWear used by MTV at the 2011 Video Music Awards where viewers could speculate what they thought performer Lady Gaga would wear to the event.[1] Some shows create hashtags for promotional purposes. While advertising the fifth season of Jersey Shore, MTV used promos with various hashtags related to events in the show to generate buzz.

In addition to hashtags, programs can also create their own Twitter accounts. Often used for talk shows or shows that have a host, similar to a hashtag, the program places @ followed by the specific Twitter handle at the bottom of the screen. CNN's Piers Morgan Tonight showed his Twitter handle @piersmorgan twice during a show, which generated 4,500 new followers as an immediate result. Accounts also make it possible for hosts to live-tweet during a prerecorded program.[1] Comedy Central's Tosh.0 host Daniel Tosh live-tweets via his Twitter account @danieltosh during new airings of his show. Jeff Probst, host of CBS' Survivor, did not live-tweet at all during the show's 2010 season. In spring 2011, using the Twitter handle @JeffProbst, his live-tweeting during new episodes of the show dramatically[clarification needed] increased online traffic related to the show.[1]

Fox's crime drama Bones, under the Twitter handle @BONESonFOX, makes an effort to interact with fans and followers. In addition to being able to post on the back channel, followers of the Twitter account can use it to find and download music played during the program. The account also makes an effort to re-tweet and reply to fan posts using the hashtag #bones in their posts. Bones' actors and creative team also hold live tweet sessions where followers can tweet questions about the show.[7]

The HBO program True Blood has taken Twitter a step further by creating Twitter accounts for the fictional characters on the show. Using the tag #TrueBlood, these characters' tweets use dialogue specific to how they speak on the show. Unlike other, unofficial character Twitter accounts, all of the True Blood character accounts are created and maintained by HBO.[7]

A cottage industry has sprung up around facilitating TV stations interaction with viewers. Companies like Mass Relevance,[8],[9] TV Interact[10] and Vidpresso[11] all aim to help broadcasters more easily use social media.

Creating two-way dialogues[edit]

Interactive television in a non-linear sense has the ability to empower the sole viewer as they have the opportunity to share their opinion in an open forum. Typically the message is encoded on-screen for a short period of time when audience participation is welcomed. Selva (2016) describes this empowerment as identity-building for the purpose of creating social awareness, real-time fact checking, or perhaps dictating conversational topics. It gives one the opportunity to think open-mindedly, to perhaps consider something from a different perspective or to learn something new. Users can also provide feedback almost instantaneously, as digital media enhances the efficiency of the communication flow. Thus, the non-linear model of communication suggests that television shows of today tend to prosper off a two-way dialogue stream.[12]

Moreover, social television has radically influenced and enhanced the way viewers engage with other viewers. "TV viewers can follow their favorite programs, share TV-related content and reactions, and connect with fellow viewers before, during, and after a program." (Lin, Sung, & Chen, 2016). According to Selva, many people use social media platforms whilst watching television to feel as though they are not alone or to "compensate for the absence of other people in the physical realm of the living room and to have the chance to control others' reactions." (Selva, 2016). This is particularly prominent in shows such as a political debate, a sports match or reality TV, due to the dramatic, controversial nature of it. Lim et al., (2016, as cited in Lin, Sung, & Chen, 2016) suggest that there are three levels of social TV engagement; functional, emotional and communal. Viewers appreciate the opportunity to share their opinion because as emotional beings, humans seek to have a sense of belonging; to think they might find someone else/other people who share the same views as they do. Lin, Sung and Chen in their studies found a direct correlation between audience emotional engagement and television channel loyalty; thus, audience engagement and participation is paramount to maintaining viewer consistency in television.[13]

The role of intermediaries[edit]

On viewer to viewer engagement, Dahlen, Lange, and Smith (2010) analyse the hierarchal effects of "intermediaries" in the model of communication. These intermediaries are "Opinion Leaders": "regularly perceived by their immediate peer group to embody the characteristics of an innovator, a socialite and to be of a higher social status" (Smith & Taylor, 2004, as cited in Dahlen, Lange, & Smith, 2010); as well as "Opinion Formers": "Considered to be official specialists in the product area" (Egan, 2007, Smith & Taylor, 2004, as cited in Dahlen, Lange, & Smith, 2010). Both groups of people are extremely influential in shaping the opinions of audiences due to their hierarchal power in society. Social media makes it easier for Opinion Leaders in particular, to have their opinions heard and adhered to by their fans as they take the role of "filtering messages from the sender to receiver, occupying a position of informal influence over the attitude of others." In social television, the influence of Opinion Leaders can come across as taking a biased stance, particularly for collection of data purposes (e.g. polls).[14]


Through the evolution of Facebook as the premier social networking site, television programs have taken advantage of the enormous amount of users by creating pages for users to "like". After clicking "like" on a page it will then show up under the user's interests. Television programs take advantage of this by creating exclusive posts that only those who "like" the page can see.[15] The pages post updates that include air-times of new episodes, preview and behind the scenes clips, merchandise and coupon opportunities, and interviews with the show's actors and directors. Access to exclusive content entices Facebook users to "like" the pages of their favorite shows. As of May 2011, 275 million users "liked" a television show page on Facebook. The average users "liked" at least six shows leading to an average of 1.65 billion Likes of television shows.[15]

Seventeen of the top 100 most liked pages are television programs with Fox's The Simpsons, Family Guy and Comedy Central's South Park being the top three most "liked" television pages. A show's Likes on Facebook also trend over time, being the most "liked" show on Facebook, The Simpsons (48 million "likes") sees an average 1.23% weekly growth and a 0.15% daily growth (as of April 2012).[16] As of January 2013 Facebook has announced the launch of hashtags. Facebook will now have clickable links that users will be able to click on and see the stories surrounding that hashtag. Facebook has over 4.7 billion content items shared daily and the hash tag will help people to find more people who are talking about the same things as them.[17]

In 2014, the new app Snapchat became more popular than Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and television. On January 26, 2015 24.79 million people watched a series of videos on their phones, called "Snapchat Stories" about the blizzard of 2015. This beat FOX'S Sunday Night Football which had 21 million views, and AMC's The Walking Dead mid-season finale which had 14.8 million views.[18]

This statistic shows leading U.S. television series on Twitter ranked by average unique audience in 2015, sorted by the number of average tweets. During this period of time, ABC's Pretty Little Liars generated an average of 222,000 tweets per episode airing. ABC's Scandal was ranked first with an online buzz volume of 559,000 tweets per telecast.[19]

Real-time video posting[edit]

In May 2013, Twitter launched Twitter Amplify, allowing television networks and content rights holders to share video clips from major live broadcasts, with advertisers' names and messages playing before the clip.[20] Facebook made changes to its algorithm and introduced video autoplay to drive video consumption and attract content from premium content rights holders such as NFL, NHL, Wimbledon and Fox Sports. It then announced Facebook Suggested Videos, bringing related videos and ads to anyone that clicks on a video.[21]

Numerous rights holders now use Grabyo to share clips from live video feeds on Facebook and Twitter. The real-time video editing platform is used by the NHL,[22] Sky Sports,[23] the Brit Awards,[24] Wimbledon,[25] FIFA World Cup,[26] Channel 5,[27] ATP World Tour, Ryder Cup, FIA Formula E Championship and UFC.[28]


Social media sites[edit]

Studies have shown that social media sites such as Twitter have been used to calculate a portion of television ratings.[29] The rise in various devices currently available for viewers to access television content on has caused for the traditional Nielsen ratings system to become outdated and thus no longer capable of generating an accurate depiction of viewership. Functions such as online viewing, recorded DVR content, and live streams over the Internet are not taken into account when calculating television ratings. The Nielsen Media Research took a survey at the end of 2009 which concluded that 59% of Americans simultaneously watched television and accessed the internet at least once per month, spending 3.5 hours of simultaneous use per month.[29] Rating information can be gathered through the social media site's "back-channel". While social media sites, specifically Twitter, have proven to be able to generate television rating numbers there are still limitations to that function. Twitter was not designed to calculate television ratings therefore more work needs to be done to refine the method to acquiring a look at viewership though the site.[30]

The Grammy Awards provide an example of a direct correlation between back channel traffic and ratings. In 2010 the award show saw a 35% increase in viewers from the previous year's broadcast as a result of social media integration. A more extreme example of a social media ratings boost can be scene with the Oxygen Network's Bad Girls Club whose East Coast premiere saw a 97% ratings increase through social network activity where the West Coast airing, which offered no social element, only saw a 7% from the previous week. On the flipside, a large amount of online traffic does not always however translate into high ratings. A studied showed that while a large amount of online traffic may circulate about a program it does not necessarily mean that a large audience is physically watching.[31]

Online viewership[edit]

Television programs such as the CW's Gossip Girl, Supernatural, 90210 and NBC's Community rank fairly low on the Nielsen ratings scale and come in above 100 on the list on 200 most watched programs within original broadcast times. Despite this, each program ranks incredibly high on the 200 most watched programs online list with Gossip Girl being the most watched program online according to SideReel Ranking. On the other end of the spectrum, ratings hits such as CBS' NCIS: Los Angeles, and reality shows such as Fox's American Idol and ABC's Dancing with the Stars have fairly low online viewership while delivering large numbers during original broadcasts.[32] A possible explanation for this discrepancy could have to do with the age demographics of each program. Dramas like Gossip Girl and 90210 are targeted toward teens and young adults while American Idol and NCIS: Los Angeles have a much broader audiences including older viewers.[32] SideReel described the phenomena as saying "Online TV viewers are younger and more discriminating. They're driving consumption away from the TV set to the computer."[32]


Back-channel networks[edit]

The back-channel is the virtual conversation or information shared while a program is airing in real time. There must be a distinction made between television-related tweets and other information shared. Specific Hashtags, links, re-tweets, and "@" messages are all ways television programs and stations work to distinguish their content from being mixed in with unrelated content. For example, searching the key word "lost" would provide you with all tweets containing the word as opposed to searching "#Lost" which makes the differential between the television series and the literal word "lost".[33] Television programs are adopting Twitter's back-channel to directly obtain audiences' opinions about on-aired programs.[30] Mobile-phones, computers, tablets and other devices that can connect to the internet make it possible to access and contribute to the back-channel anytime, anywhere. A major portion of back channel conversation for a single show occurs during its initial broadcast.

Drawbacks of back-channel networks[edit]

Back-channeling networks can instigate miscommunication. The dynamics of back-channeling provides a system of categorization for the discourse surrounding a topic. The detriments of such a system are also its strengths. This is because the lack of filtration that occurs when searching through back-channeled information can miscommunicate the original message.

The presence of false or irrelevant information will remain present within the network and has the potential to be misinterpreted as accurate. The postmodern perspective of back-channel networks describes the correlation between an original source and a back-channeled source.[34]


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