Now that we’ve said our final goodbyes to summer, we’re met with the arrival of September, a month of new beginnings. Students are beginning their college careers or even starting their professional careers. In addition to these milestones, September has a lighter element to balance out the month: the return of all of our favorite TV shows!
Since premiere week is near, it’s the perfect time to think about how TV viewing and engagement has changed with social media. No longer does it matter where you are, a viewing experience can be shared by all. Why is social TV viewing so popular? Social media expert Brian Solis says it’s all about being a part of “a global conversation around the world’s largest water cooler.” Check out some of the social media tools I use to engage in the “global conversation.”
Hashtags have almost become just as common and important as the network’s logo itself. How many times have you tuned in to a show because you saw it trending on Twitter? It’s the feeling of wanting to be a part of the conversation that lures viewers in. Some television shows display multiple hashtags at a time. For example, on the Whitney Houston tribute episode of Glee, the network displayed three separate hashtags: #GLEE, #GLEERemembersWhitney, and #GraduationIsNear. Two of the hashtags were actually displayed on the screen at the same time. So should this be considered fully utilizing a tool or just doing a little too much? Whatever the case, you’d be hard pressed to find a show that’s not being talked about on Twitter.
The perfect social network for the most avid TV viewers. Only recently have I discovered this site and I love it! It’s kind of like Facebook, Twitter and Four Square rolled into one. As a member of this network you can follow other TV viewers. You can go through countless lists and ‘like’ whatever your heart desires. You can have discussions with people who are watching the same show at the same time and possibly the same episode. Not to mention, you can check-in to different shows multiple times and earn titles like ‘SUPER FAN’ and ‘DIE HARD FAN.’ I would say the greatest part of this network is the tangible prizes for engaging in the conversation: the stickers! By checking-in to different things on special nights, you can earn stickers related to the show, artist, book, etc. It doesn’t stop there. You can actually have the physical copies of your sticker collection sent to your home…for free! If that isn’t a cool incentive for taking part in the conversation, I don’t know what it is.
Often times, outside of the naturally occurring conversations about your favorite shows on Twitter, actors and actresses will host a live-tweet. Sometimes they tweet little facts about the episodes during the airing, other times the cast member will answer questions about certain scenes and lines. As a loyal fan to a show, it’s a good feeling to know the actors and actresses haven’t forgotten about us. Are they just doing it to get people to watch the show? It’s possible but with social media tools like Twitter, fans and actors can connect on a whole new level.
The last TV tool I use is ABC’s interactive TV app. Still in the perfecting process, TV networks are offering their viewers a new way to engage with characters on their favorite shows. My prime example would be ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy Sync app for the iPad. Using this app allows a viewer, like me, to interact with the show as it’s happening. All you have to do is open the app and it will automatically sync with where you are in the episode. Through this app you can answer trivia questions, learn cool facts and my favorite, learn the names of songs that are playing during certain scenes. You would think it would be more of a distraction from the actual show, but the way you use it makes all the difference.
Solis says, “The future of TV will be driven by innovation and a vision more meaningful entertainment and engagement.” A concept we’ve already begun to witness. Call me old fashioned, but I still enjoy the experience of viewing my favorite shows live and sitting on my couch. However, with the clever innovations listed above, I can laugh, cry and ‘awwww’ with fans from all over. So if you haven’t already engaged in one of the above activities, try it and enhance your television viewing experience.