By Jane Hamilton, MyMediaInfo
Television changed the world when it was introduced so many years ago and, let’s face it, it’s still the center of most American homes. Just look at the typical living room setup. But the proliferation of the internet into our daily lives has changed our habits and, according to this article, the average American watches just less than 20 hours of TV each week. As a nation of multi-taskers, our social networking time and our television time have become intertwined. In fact, Twitter is fast becoming as important as our snacks and our remote control when it comes to watching TV. Here are seven reasons why.
1. Turning Television into a multi-dimensional experience – In November 2010, Twitter’s Director of Media Partnerships spoke about “3-D TV”. No, not that kind of 3D. He was talking about the experience of watching events unfold on television while following the tweets of a celebrity on the show, getting a glimpse into who they are off-screen or what goes on backstage. James Franco, host of this year’s Oscars, put “3-D TV” into action for fans by tweeting before and during the show. Oscar hashtags such as #OscarsRealTime and #SatisfyingWin also created a multifaceted experience.
2. Instant Feedback on shows – If you’re watching a popular show, you can be sure you’re not the only one. A quick search on Twitter will return Tweets from other viewers eager to share their opinion on why they love the show, why they didn’t, or why the producers shouldn’t bother with another season! UK Television is taking this trend seriously and networks are figuring out how to make it work for them.
3. Twitter and the Newsroom – Twitter has become a mainstay in the newsroom, often being the first to break news stories. Having become a news source, over 77% of TV newsrooms now use Twitter. In fact, many news channels use the videos and images shared by viewers on Twitter to add meaning to their reports. Journalists are also expressing their thoughts through Twitter, though sometimes it gets a little controversial. Despite the questions that arise from the integration of Twitter into the newsroom, it looks like it is here to stay.
4. Building an Instant Audience – It used to be that promoting a TV show took a lot of advertising money and involved hours of crafting the perfect pitch, neither of which guaranteed viewers. Twitter has changed all that. Now building an audience can take a few keystrokes. Self-promotion on Twitter has become an acceptable means of advertising and reaching the right demographic through hashtags, links, and Twitter giveaways has never been easier.
5. Creating a Community around Celebrities – Celebrities speak up for causes, lend their voices and faces to products, walk fashion runways, and host charity shows to make a difference. Twitter can help them maximize their reach. Many celebrities have discovered that forming a Twitter community brings more power to their voice, and this power can be leveraged in a positive way. For example, Ashton Kutcher has used Twitter to promote many causes, including HIV Testing Day and World Malaria Day.
6. Twitter Twist in the Plot – Speaking of Ashton Kutcher, he has recently started a new trend – turning Twitter accounts into TV shows. The infamous “$#*! My Dad Says” is now a top-rated TV show on CBS and there’s talk that Kutcher is pushing for another hit with “Dear Girls Above Me” and “Shh… Don’t Tell Steve”. Add to this the fact that many TV shows are incorporating Twitter into their plots to create interest and intrigue. For instance, a Grey’s Anatomy character joined Twitter to prove it can be a useful learning tool for young doctors. Many shows are using Twitter to engage viewers in contests or reveal significant aspects of a character’s profile in their twitter feed. The idea of integrating Twitter with reality television to advance the plot has also surfaced and it shows that Twitter could very well change the very concept of TV-watching!
7. TV-Twitter Apps – You have your TV remote in one hand and your iPhone in the other. That leaves no hands for the popcorn, but hey, who’s complaining when you have amazing apps that make your TV viewing experience all the more awesome? Cue tvChatter, a free iPhone app that displays real-time tweets with commentary about your favorite programs opening up the opportunity for conversation with fellow viewers.
Social media tools are pushing television to new limits where the line between traditional media and modern media is blurring. In the name of a complete experience for the viewer, TV has gone social like never before. What does it mean for traditional media and television? Will the next Oscar broadcast be watched as live-streaming video on Twitter? Will there be a reality show about Twitter, played out on Twitter? Let us know what you think by tweeting to @MyMediaInfo and using the hashtag #MMInextup.