Social Media creates online fan club ‘communities’ where users are able to join groups, pages or simply participate in discussions. The people who join these come from all over the world, all different ages, nationalities, backgrounds and ethnicities, but they all have a common interest and that is what brings them to these specific groups. It is those views that are discussed, nothing more.
Most of us do not have access to a medium to publish our findings or opinions, like journalists do. Most of us do not want to start a blog where we post a monologue of our thoughts, with little feedback. What is becoming more and more apparent is that people want to be part of wider discussions on topics that they are passionate about, where their opinions are dissected, considered and questioned. For many, TV shows and Social Media have become these passions.
As we discussed in our other blog ‘TV + Social Media – The Second Screen’, TV programme Social Media accounts can act as the central hub of an online fan club community, and fans are rewarded for their participation and devotion with exclusive, interactive and fun content that could not be seen elsewhere. They can help to create a sense of unity and comradeship with other fans which, once again, leads to wider conversation and awareness.
For a fan, being a part of these online communities can also act as a ‘feel good’ mechanism because of this. For example, members receive support, feedback, and praise from other members when they share their opinions, their fan-fiction or even their fan-artwork that they have spent quality time creating. Essentially, participating becomes rewarding, enjoyable and often addictive, and this is something TV productions should always bear in mind.
Thus, through the creation and maintenance of these Social Media pages, new viewers are generated because people cannot help but be influenced by what others are ‘buzzing’ about online. They also help to retain a band of loyal followers who spread positive words about the production throughout the ‘community’ and beyond. In addition, fans who feel a deeper connection to a production and its cast and crew as part of this community frequently demonstrate their loyalty through Social Media, by defending it from any attacks from the press, or from other ‘non’ fans.
For example, when a negative article was published about Poldark in the media that proved to be untrue, there was a huge reaction from loyal fans who very strongly and publicly denounced the whole piece. When one fan Tweeted that the article had no factual basis and was, in fact, made up, it created a snowball effect where hundreds of others fans Tweeted and Retweeted the same. This is evidence of the devotion such online fan club communities incite, and without it in this instance, the article would have gone practically unchallenged.
What’s more, the fact that we were able to release our own statement on Facebook and Twitter confirming that the article was made up further helped with the snowballing effect, and such a big reaction prevented other main newspapers from picking up the story and rehashing it. This was because the reaction to it had not had the damning effect that the original author had intended, and so it would be fruitless, and somewhat idiotic, for any other publication to pick it up.
Thus, it is worth remembering that Social Media can create a worldwide community. Just as a physical community may come together to lament an action of someone within it, people can rally round on Social Media communities to the same end. Social Media is becoming not just a forum to share ideas, without having any wider influence. What is said on these platforms has an impact, and this is no different when it comes to TV shows and Social Media.
Food for thought,