TV turns social to engage with audiences

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While flicking through the channels last night, it became abundantly clear that the influence of Twitter is not only creeping into broadcast media, it has set up camp, lit a fire and is now toasting marshmallows. It seems a programme isn’t ‘cool’ unless it’s got a token hashtag.

The use of – and increasing reliance on – Twitter as a way of interacting with viewers and gaining immediate feedback has become so popular that it’s even got its own name – ‘social TV’.  For those amongst us fighting off the grey hairs, phone-ins and ‘Points of View’ are not foreign concepts, but this is instant, ever-changing and reaching people wherever they are.

In fact, I’d go as far to say that sometimes it’s more interesting watching TV via Twitter than it is the programme itself. Take this year’s Eurovision: painful viewing for most, but the constant feed of quips, ratings and conversation on Twitter was entertainment at its best. The overwhelming ‘thumbs-up’ for the BBC’s Frozen Planet documentary this week even caused one colleague to start watching it midway through for fear of missing out.

Commercial entities are now jumping on the growing link between television and social media. The Get Glue app allows you to ‘check-in’ to films, programmes and books; E4 even runs adverts during peak shows encouraging people to switch on to the ‘social network for entertainment’.

This has all come as something of a relief. I was getting slightly conscious that my Twitter feed was a little top heavy on the TV commentary (I do go out and mix with 3-dimensional people every now and again – just for reference), but now I’m ready to embrace ‘social TV’. All I need now is my own hashtag.