Today we no longer direct our attention to the single screen – the TV. Our mobiles, laptops, tablets, etc. play such a huge role in our lives, that they have become the Second Screen which we monitor as much as, or even more than, the first. Indeed, 86% of tablet owners and 88% smart phone owners use them simultaneously use them while watching TV.
Our favourite actors and actresses are no longer mysterious inaccessible idols, worshipped from afar. Many of them now have interactive Social Media accounts where fans are able to connect with them personally, share their opinions, give praise, start a conversation, or simply keep abreast of others’ thoughts of a particular show, scene or character.
Fans are no longer invested solely in the on-screen character – not now that there is the opportunity to get more personal and to have their own opinion aired. They want to know the people behind the characters. Their views, interests, hobbies, reactions to events in the media, background, skills – how they bring the character to life so perfectly etc., and the list goes on and on… Simply watching the TV show unfold isn’t sufficient for the vast majority of us, and that’s where Social Media comes into play.
Two-Screen viewing provides the perfect opportunity for a production to create a wonderful set of immersive experiences for their viewers. As key moments happen on the TV screen, the production can time relevant and extra content to be released directly in to their hands (via the second screen), giving the fan access, conversational points and a totally integrated experience.
With more and more TV shows using Social Media to interact with their fans; they are able to give better experiences for the viewers by providing them with ‘extra titbits’, such as exclusive photos or interviews, to maximise and maintain viewers’ interest. While at the same time generating global conversations that reach even the farthest corners of the world, creating an international awareness.
Audiences can interact by joining these conversations, observing or sharing, as well as entering online competitions, watching or reading cast interviews, or viewing behind-the-scenes footage to see how the whole process comes together. Posts can also act as an extra ‘suspense-maker’, by releasing carefully constructed questions or suggestions that get people thinking. Such techniques cleverly work to implant the show into the viewers’ thoughts, and in turn, into more conversations and thus further promotion, connectivity and popularity.
It is fair to say that Social Media gives TV shows better engagement and feedback while the audience gets a more in-depth experience, and a wider knowledge, of the show they love. What’s more, with multiple screens to watch and interact with, TV shows give viewers more options. They also give content providers and advertisers more opportunities to reach and engage with viewers. Well-designed experiences can not only make the viewing experience more enjoyable, they maximize the time users spend interacting with brands.
Crucially, using Social Media while watching TV shows has become a normal thing to do. 83% of people browse a second screen while watching TV – a highly significant portion of viewers. Indeed, with mobile phones by our sides 24/7, we are both enabled and encouraged to be interactive online before, during and after the TV show has transmitted. Of these 83%, 41% Tweet about the show they are watching, and even when they do not ‘Tweet’, 50% admitted to looking up hashtags from TV shows and advertising simply to see what people are saying. It reiterates the idea that people are increasingly looking to be part of a wider conversation that only Social Media can facilitate.
Social Media has given a voice to anyone who wants it, and many of us want to use these platforms to hear and be heard, to read and be read. We’re dying to know more, to see if our take on a particular scene is shared, for example, or challenged, or if our predictions for the story have been noticed by others, or simply to share how excited we are about an upcoming episode! Tellingly, 51% of those who post on social media while watching TV say that they do so to feel connected to others who might be watching, and 53% admitted to keeping up with TV shows simply to join the conversations on Social Media.
Take Pretty Little Liars (TV Show) – a perfect example of exactly how a show can use Social Media to get the most out of a production. Firstly, all of the show’s main characters are heavy Social Media users who use their accounts to interact directly with their fandom, who have become legendary in the ‘fandom world’ for the sheer level of their engagement. As a result there have been over 100 million related tweets to date since 2010, with more than 8.5 million engagements per series across all platforms. With this level of interactivity by cast and fans, Pretty Little Liars has the number one most-tweeted-about telecast of all time, and it’s a show the world is definitely not forgetting about any time soon!
Production Social Media accounts can act as the heart of an online fan club, and fans are rewarded for their engagement, support and loyalty, with the exclusive, interactive and fun content referred to earlier in this blog. They can help to create a sense of unity and comradeship with other fans which, once again, lead to wider conversation and awareness. 17% of people (in 2014) admitted to starting to watch a TV show because of social impressions, which demonstrates that active and positive Social Media accounts can and do generate viewers, acting as a multiplier effect. In reality, this figure, almost three years later, is much higher considering the colossal growth in Social Media use.
What’s more, an additional result is that the fans who feel ‘invested’ in a TV show and its cast can often become its biggest advocates, fiercely defending the production from any negative comments that may be bandied about in the media, for example. Indeed, they are undeterred by any changes in opinion or outrage at a particular turn of events, and remain loyal to the show they love because the show has become more than just that, and this happens through the use of this Second Screen and the availability of the extra and ‘juicy’ information shared by their Social Media accounts.
In fact, statistics show that 62% of people use social networks and forums while watching TV on a weekly basis, and this figure grows consistently, demonstrated by an increase of 18% since 2011. This means that Social Media can play a vital role in maintaining and generating not only viewership, but also interest, even when the show is no longer airing. Social Media plays such a big part in peoples’ lives that its significance cannot be ignored. It is not simply a case of ‘having Social Media’ but ‘knowing HOW to use Social Media’ which influences its success. With careful handling, it has the ability to create something very special for any production and generate unquestionable talk-a-ability.