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Twitter Takes Over TV

June 23, 2014


If you’ve been watching TV over the last few years, you’ll surely have noticed a new trend: hashtags at the bottom of the screen during your favorite programming.

I noticed it a little bit during the 12/13 season, but during the last year, it really seems to have exploded. From interactive shows like The Voice and American Idol to scripted dramas like The Blacklist, Arrow, and Once Upon a Time, producers, writers, and stars try to get their show trending by putting a hashtag in front of it. Failed comedy Friends with Better Lives even tried to garner buzz by promoting the show on billboards and buses using #FWBL and when the cancellation notice came down, the actors took to Twitter with #SaveFWBL to try to get fan support to get CBS to reverse the decision. (It didn’t work.)

While this seems like a no brainer for a show like The Voice, where the audience is a part of the outcome of the show, it was a surprise when scripted shows starting using the platform to promote their shows.  Well, not really a surprise. But as a fan, it was a delightful new way to interact with some of my favorite shows. When The Blacklist went on their winter hiatus, James Spader‘s Raymond Reddington was in the wind, so in all the promotions both on TV and on Twitter, the show used #WhereisRed to keep fans engaged during the break and keep the show’s plotline in people’s mind. Similarly, as the show raced toward it’s conclusion, they used #WhoIsTomKeen to keep the conversation going about one of the show’s central mysteries.

Once Upon a Time used a similar device with #SaveHenry for the first part of it’s third season, which saw Jared Gilmore‘s Henry captured by a malevolent Peter Pan (Robbie Kay) and our heroes’ attempts to save him. Once he was safe and sound, the Wicked Witch from Oz (Rebecca Mader) showed up in Storybrooke, prompting #WickedisComing. Once she was defeated, the show gave us a glimpse into next season’s new character, Elsa from Frozen, and within seconds of the reveal, #FrozenisComing popped up on Twitter.

Some shows even use Twitter for cross promotion. The CW had two shows back to back starring cousins: Arrow’s Stephen Amell and The Tomorrow People‘s Robbie Amell, so they were able to use #AmellWednesdays to promote both shows at the same time. And when they moved The Tomorrow People to Mondays, it was clear sign that they were abandoning that marketing gimmick and the show would likely be canceled. But while it lasted, it was a brilliant concept that could only have been done on Twitter.

These are not the only shows doing this. But they are examples of how TV is evolving to not only be something that fans watch, but something they can interact with. I can post a comment using #FrozenisComing and anyone looking for that hashtag can see the post and comment on it, even if they don’t follow me, because now the conversation is bigger than it has ever been before. Why post something to a message board after the episode when you can comment in real time about what’s happening on Twitter. And not only can fans interact with each other, if a tweet is particularly clever, insightful, or asks a good question, the actors, writers or social media managers may even respond to or retweet whatever you posted, heightening the level of interaction between product and consumer.

This is a model that extends beyond TV, of course. Airlines have taken to responding to complaints and comments on Twitter. Companies like DiGiorno and Taco Bell have regular interactions with consumers on Twitter. Communication has evolved on a global level. Mitt Romney claimed that corporations are people too, and Twitter is the evidence that he didn’t even know he had.

But I digress. As a fan of TV, I really enjoy the new interaction. I’ve had my tweets replied to, retweeted and even got one show to start following me on Twitter by taking part in the conversation. And in an industry where who you know is everything, that can only help me. It’s a way to get your name out there without ever leaving the couch. Not that you don’t need to also go out and create and pound the pavement and all the other things you need to make your dreams come true, but every little bit helps and I for one, will continue watching, tweeting and participating in the global television conversation.


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One Comment
  1. Your article perclftey shows what I needed to know, thanks!

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