Social media and television

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The Chinese "Click Awards" being aired live on the MicroBlog website.

Social media and television broadcasting have a number of connections and interrelationships. In the 2010s, social media technologies and websites allow for television shows to be accessed online on a range of desktop and mobile computer devices, smartphones and smart TVs. As well, online users can use social media websites to share digital video clips or excerpts from TV shows with fellow fans or even share an entire show online. Many social media websites enable users to post online comments on the programs—both negative and positive—in a variety of ways. Viewers can actively participate while watching a TV program by posting comments online, and have their interactions viewed and responded to in real time by other viewers. Technologies such as smartphones, tablets, and laptop computers allow viewers to watch downloaded digital files of TV shows or "stream" digital files of TV shows on a range of devices, both in the home and while on the go. In the 2010s, some television producers and broadcasters are encouraging active social media participation by viewers by posting "hashtags" on the TV screen during shows; these hashtags enable viewers to post online comments about the show, which may either be read by other social media users, or even, in some cases, displayed on the screen.

In contrast to pre-Internet TV viewing, which typically took place in a family room of a private home, in the 2010s, digital and Internet technologies enable viewers to watch show anytime, anywhere, regardless of the over-the-air television air times. For example, when a TV show is made available on a streaming service, viewers can watch the show on any day and at any time. Viewers with Internet-enabled mobile devices can even stream or download and watch a TV show while commuting on the bus or train. Television stations and programs have taken advantage of this new accessibility by incorporating aspects of social media into their programming, such as indicating social media websites where viewers and fans can post comments or participate in online activities. TV show producers are also using viewer comments from social media to improve their content or modify their marketing campaigns. TV show producers are also releasing video clips from live TV, including promotional trailers and excerpts from shows, on popular social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat to generate additional advertising revenue and increase Internet users' awareness of and interest in their show. In some cases, social media marketing may be more effective at reaching a target market and less expensive than using "traditional" marketing approaches for TV shows, such as TV commercials. At the same time, TV shows using social media may face certain risks, as Internet users can post negative comments about the show online. In comparison with traditional marketing platforms, over which advertisers generally had a high level of control (e.g., a TV commercial), with social media, regular viewers can post critical comments directly under an TV show's online advertisement on a social media website.

Promotion[edit]

Programs must decide on and promote a single "hashtag" for a show which in turn becomes the show's official hashtag when fans post online comments 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, to help guide viewers who want to make online comments. 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]

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, fewer people are watching television advertisements and the advertisers' clients are those who suffer in response.

In the modern world of social networks and growing Internet stores that sell products and services online, this people-organization chain is used by social media. Social media marketing gives users a high degree of confidence about the information posted by their real life or online friends, and by trusted opinion leaders. The trust that people place in their relationship chain reassures users with a higher degree of confidence in recommendations by friends and acquaintances online. Taking advantage of the social relationship chain allows advertisers to make use of the benefits of social media and television marketing. There are several enterprises to broaden viewer's awareness of their product such as Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites. According to social media facts and statistics, "93% of marketers use social media for business." Social media enables companies to collect a lot of information about users and non-users. These parameters are not only reserved to just age, race, and occupation. By analyzing the content which users share, retailers can effectively determine the user's preferences, habits, purchasing power, purchasing patterns and other information. In addition, retailing is buying and selling both goods and consumer services.[citation needed]

Shazam, a musical recognition app, is a recent social media and television asset from Silicon Valley. On a technical level, the app can listen to monophonic music which "can be represented by one-dimensional strings of characters, where each character describes one note or one pair of consecutive notes." These characters are part of long-coded algorithms which exist as songs in Shazam's vast catalogue. For every song, Shazam has a different algorithm. Advertisers send Shazam algorithms of the audio from their commercials. When television viewers see a product they like and want to know more about, they can Shazam the commercial and be redirected to the company's website about the product.[4]

Researchers have also found a direct correlation between reality TV viewership and increased time spent on social media. The more reality TV a person consumes, the more likely they are to friend strangers and post pictures at a higher frequency than non-reality TV viewers.[5] "Promiscuous friending" is the phrase used to describe the viewers mimicking the behaviors of their reality TV stars. Friending and following random online users has been an increasing trend over the past decade. The reason for this could be, "fame-seeking behavior that is modeled by RTV characters. Having a large social network on a SNS site can be construed as a sign of popularity (being at the center of a large social network), and conversely as a sign of superficiality."[5]

Interactive media such as Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri have enabled computers to interact with people in human-like ways. "Computers, in the way that they communicate, instruct and take turns interacting, are close enough to humans that they encourage social responses. The encouragement is necessary for such a reaction need not be much. As long as there are some behaviors that suggest a social presence, people will respond accordingly."[6]

Approaches[edit]

The exponential growth in the number of social media users between 2006 and 2016 has impacted how television shows are marketed. As well, the huge increase in social media use has changed how show producers and broadcasters interact and connect with their audiences on a national or even a global scale. Global, referring to Internet's ability to connect people from across the street, across the country, or even around the world. The Internet allows instantaneous newsfeeds and posts, regardless of location or time differences. TV ratings agency Nielsen 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 about their favourite shows (2012).[7] The increasing efficiency and ease of access to digital devices has enabled more direct interaction between television show producers and their audiences and fans. Spengler and Wirth (2009)[8] describe this interaction between a brand and their audience as "touchpoints", which are the "various contact points at which brands appear in public and are experienced by (potential) clients". The phrase "appear in public" refers to the broad range of public events that brands and companies can use to promote their brands, products and services, ranging from celebrity appearances at events, media tours, TV commercials, billboard ads and online marketing.

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."[9] 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 "buzz" and audience interest to be generated naturally through fans posting links and comments online. A plan for increasing Internet traffic related to a single show is the placement of hashtags on the screen during dramatic moments of the show, 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 effective way to increase web 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 musician/performer Lady Gaga—an artist known for her avant-garde fashions—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 a major effort to interact with fans and followers and engage them via social media. In addition to being able to post on the back channel, followers of the Twitter account can use it to find and download music that is played during the program. The account also makes an effort to re-tweet and reply to fan comment 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.[10] 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.[10] A cottage industry has sprung up around facilitating TV stations interaction with viewers. Companies like Mass Relevance,[11] Never.no[12] TV Interact[13] and Vidpresso[14] 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 regular, sole viewer as they have the opportunity to share their opinion in an open forum that may be seen by huge numbers of users. 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 dealing with conversational topics. It gives regular users the opportunity to think open-mindedly, to consider something from a different perspective or to learn something new. Users can also provide feedback almost instantaneously, as digital media enhances the efficiency and openness of the communication flow. Thus, the non-linear model of communication suggests that television shows of in the 2010s tend to prosper from social media's two-way dialogue stream.[15]

Moreover, social media has radically influenced and enhanced the way viewers engage with other viewers and fans. "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 the content. Lim et al. (2016, as cited in Lin, Sung, & Chen, 2016) suggest that there are three levels of engagement by combined TV/social media users; 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 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.[16]

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).[17]

Facebook[edit]

Through the evolution of Facebook as the top social networking site, television programs have taken advantage of the large number of users by creating pages for users to "like", by clicking on the "like" button, indicating that they have a favorable view of content regarding the show. 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.[18] 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.[18] 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).[19] 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.[20]

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.[21] 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.[22]

Facebook recognized how successful Snapchat was with the launch of Snapchat stories back in 2014, so Facebook launched their own Facebook stories in 2017. This is a way for you to share, for twenty-four hours, what are you doing with your Facebook friends from the mobile app.[23]

News organizations[edit]

Social media and television has changed the way that news is delivered and consumed. Journalists now have the task of converting their stories into the digital form that is suitable for social media as well as creating content for news programs on air. With social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, journalists must now market their stories and news organizations by attempting to get shares and likes. Hard-hitting news is now taking a backseat to fluffy stories that get more shares and likes on social media platforms. News organizations like CNN, Fox News Channel and MSNBC are some of the most popular news destinations on the Internet. These major news organizations use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to their advantage by posting and sharing up-to-date content for their newsreaders.[24]

With the constant need to share up-to-date information, journalists now have to learn how to market their stories and work to get readers to click on and share their stories. Like the Television news consumers, online news consumers have particular reasons for following certain news organizations and sharing their content. The biggest result behind shares on social media is proximity, "the general finding is that geographical proximity and the involvement of elite nations that are considered culturally proximate increase the news value of a story".[25]

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.[26] 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.[27] 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,[28] Sky Sports,[29] the Brit Awards,[30] Wimbledon,[31] FIFA World Cup,[32] Channel 5,[33] ATP World Tour, Ryder Cup, FIA Formula E Championship and UFC.[34]

Ratings[edit]

Social media websites[edit]

Studies have shown that leading social media sites such as Twitter have been used to calculate a portion of television ratings.[35] 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.[35] 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.[36]

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.[37]

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.[38] 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.[38] 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."[38]

Back-channel[edit]

Back-channel networks[edit]

The back-channel is the virtual conversation or information shared on a social media website or application by users and fans while a program is airing in real time. Studies show that a significant percentage of TV viewers simultaneously use a computer, smartphone, or other device while they watch TV shows. With the back-channel forums, a distinction made between television-show related tweets and posts, that pertain to the show and its stars, and other information shared that does not pertain to the show (e.g., comments about current political issues made on the back-channel platform for a live sports program). Specific Hashtags, links, re-tweets, and "@" messages are all ways television programs, stations, producers, advertising agencies and brands 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".[39] Television programs are adopting Twitter's back-channel to directly obtain audiences' opinions and views about on-aired programs.[36] Mobile phones, smartphones, 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[edit]

Back-channeling networks can lead to 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.[40]

Professional sports and social media[edit]

People often use social media to interact with and discuss sports. Technology is now so advanced that people no longer have to watch the game live on television. For example, there are apps, like ESPN, that will send users updates on the teams of their choice. People can also follow their favourite sports team on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On those websites, professional teams' accounts post live updates of scores and plays during games and interact as much as they can with their fans and followers. Many professional athletes have social media accounts that they are very active on. Through social media, fans get the chance to follow their favorite players and keep up with their day-to-day life.[41]

The national anthem protests during the 2017–2018 football season, where NFL players knelt for the American national anthem drew the attention of social media users. The protests began with former quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, Colin Kaepernick, who refused to stand during the playing of the national anthem before the start of the game. Kaepernick told NFL Media, "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."[42] This has caused a lot of controversy within the NFL and across the US. Fans, players, and people all over the country had different reactions, using their social media accounts to voice their opinions and their personal reasons for protesting or for honoring the flag.[43] Some of the most famous athletes that currently play in the NFL, like Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers, shared Instagram posts supporting their teammates.[43] Social media is a way for athletes to get their message across to their fans as quickly and efficiently as possible.

PhillyVoice.com, through analyzing hashtags on Twitter, concluded that the US was equally divided on this issue. Those who supported the protests included the hashtag #TakeAKnee in their tweets and those who were against them included the hashtag #boycottNFL in their tweets. Because of social media, it was possible to determine the country's opinion on the current issues within the NFL.[44]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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