Ever since its creation in the late 1890s, television has always been a shared experience. Prior to the emergence of social media, people used to chat about the latest TV shows while sitting around the water cooler.
Nowadays, Twitter extends conversations beyond the living room, allowing viewers to discuss what they’re watching at that moment with people around the block or even around the globe.
In the Middle East region, Twitter and TV tend to complement each other, and this is evident during shows such as Arab Idol (@arabidol) and Arabs Got Talent (@arabsgottalent), where people take their opinions regarding contestants on to Twitter and express their thoughts as well as who they think deserves to win.
For instance, conversations on Twitter reached a peak when Mohammad Assaf (@mohammedassaf89), a contestant on Arab Idol, reached the finals, with his supporters cheering for him through the means of Twitter. Even after Assaf was named winner, celebrations continued on the social media platform, and Tweets overflowed as a representation of excitement and joy.
Another prime example would be Star Academy (@staracarabia) offering the audience a 360-degree view of the program. They featured the Twitter handle on the screen during the entire show, Live Tweeted the show with behind the scenes pictures and Vines, and also put a Twitter Mirror on the stage. In addition, they followed the conversation about the show live on Twitter, and also conducted a weekly trivia quiz on Twitter. With this, the producers were successfully able to turn what could have been just “another singing competition” into a massive event.
There are several simple ways for companies and programs to grow their audience on social media platforms. For starters, TV shows must take advantage of the power of hashtags which are like bonfires, and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Networks, as well as fans, tend to create hashtags to start conversations around certain topics, giving marketers a great opportunity to connect relevant in-house messages to TV-related chats. Nowadays, Twitter gives companies the chance to monitor hashtags in addition to keywords beings used in order to engage in discussions with people of similar interests all over the world.
Another tip for TV programs to use, would be to live-Tweet while a show or program is running in a way that relates to viewers’ interests and keeps them occupied with the latest updates from the show they’re watching. People tend to use Twitter while watching TV as a mean to express their opinions regarding the program and join in on the conversation taking place.
One of the many advantages of Twitter would be that conversations can take place and spur discussions regarding TV programs even if a show isn’t being aired at the moment. Twitter allows programs to start conversations on television, and finish them on Twitter, allowing companies to deliver their Tweets of choice, while maximising audience reach and engagement.
Of course the trends of offline moments trending on social media is on the rise. If you specifically look at some TV shows, the conversations around those shows on Twitter have increased 200% YoY.
A brand is advised to take advantage of such moments on social media platforms in order to become part of the conversations. Nowadays, even as the audience is watching TV, they are constantly on their mobile phone having conversations about the shows they are watching and are more receptive to a brand’s messages on social media.
One of the advantages of Twitter is that it creates bonds and ties between individuals from across the globe that otherwise wouldn’t exist. According to a recent study, 95% of the public social conversation around TV happens on Twitter, which is why TV programs should make use of the power of the 140 characters they have.
Lewis Wiltshire is director, media partnerships, Twitter UK, MENA, Africa and Turkey.