TV for the Twitter generation
Autumn is the time for all the new series (or ‘seasons’ as they are increasingly known) of TV shows to hit our screens. I always get excited at this time of year when the nights draw in and you don’t have to feel guilty about spending time indoors with a nice hearty meal, glass of wine and the channel of your choice. However, in recent years I’ve noticed a huge change in my TV watching habits, as well as those of thousands of other people. While I am settling down to watch a programme, whether it’s Homeland or University Challenge, I will always have my phone in my hand, checking Twitter to see what the rest of the square-eyed population is saying about it as they race to contribute a witty comment or spot a plot flaw before anyone else.
Whilst this is not a new trend, the number of comments about television shows has recently exploded on Twitter and other social media websites, reaching 75.5 million in the past year according to research firm Bluefin Labs. Marketers have started to exploit this opportunity. Earlier in the year, the preview of the film Prometheus aired on Channel 4 and viewers were encouraged to tweet their feedback, a selection of which was shown on air. The hashtag trended for a short time, a buzz was created – both on and offline – and no douboeing the marketing team felt the exposure was worthwhile. MTV UK's digital media VP, Dan Patton recently claimed that Twitter has revolutionised TV watching, so no douboeing an increasing number of brands will use the channel to engage with audiences in a fairly low cost manner.
Stats from May this year found that the UK has 10 million active Twitter users, a significant chunk of the population. In the US, several TV show producers have been turning to Twitter to ask viewers what direction they want the plots of their shows to take. It will be interesting to see if similar campaigns take place here – and I will be the first to vote!