Benefits to following tweets during TV programmes.

tvLaptops and mobiles give television viewers the opportunity to interact with fellow viewers in real time. I have been following twitter hashtags during some television programmes and found there is the potential for a personal and a professional benefit to this. (Twitter hashtags are where you put #word in your tweet so that they show more easily in a Twitter search (by anyone not just your followers).)

Personal

I have found watching some programmes far more entertaining when watching tweets simultaneously. Favourites were Masterchef and The Apprentice. It all depends on the individuals who are making comments, but even Question Time is considerably more interesting when you see the comments and discussions online! Beyond the entertainment value of humorous comments, or those making comments you thought but would never say out loud, people can also highlight other programmes you would enjoy and you can spark up a friendship with someone who has similar views. Its a great chance to chat with like-minded people about something you enjoy or find interesting.  I appreciate many people would hate to have their viewing interrupted by tweeting but you might be surprised at how it can improve your experience in certain cases.

Professional

It is also possible for businesses to exploit the use of hashtags relating to television programmes to find customers and understand them better. Marketers have a target consumer profile for their products and services. Often this is developed to include an understanding of the media they consume. If you haven’t done this already, think about and write down an outline of your typical customer or the person you wish to target – give them a name, age, where do they live, what do they wear, what is their job, what food do they eat, what interests do they have, where do they go, what do they read, watch and listen to? A great way to find followers who could be interested in your product or service and are active on twitter is to use this information. For example, watch the twitter feed during those programmes that interest them and engage in conversation where appropriate or follow people commenting on that programme. Of course the same is true for music and sport events with people using their mobiles to tweet. Its another way to find your target customer and an opportunity to engage with them in a social setting, building a relationship without initial references being to business.

twitter constellationI was interested last night that Channel 4 (UK) prompted the use of a hashtag before one of their programmes. By doing this they were able to try and ensure all were using the same tag. This could have been to encourage a community that would then grow and talk about the programme to extend its reach. However, when I went on to the website I also found they were using the feed to also try to enrich their web content for the programme. By tracking the tweets, they created a ‘tweet constellation’ showing key words and the scale of their use. By clicking on these you could see the tweets they related to and who made them. I am not convinced the constellation really worked. I can see how it would be useful for Channel 4 for understanding reactions, what people liked and didn’t like and how to communicate with these people better. I am not sure it particularly added anything for the general public though.  For more information see http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-promise/articles/twitter-tracker-information

I will be interested to see how the media link in to social media in this way and try to use it to enhance the viewing experience.

Have you followed a twitter feed during a programme? Any favourites we shouldn’t miss out on? Have you used this to find your target market? Let me know how you get on.

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Gil March 8, 2011 at 1:42 pm

Hi Sarah
I think you’re absolutely right. From a personal perspective keeping an eye on tweets during a show can make even the most boring show entertaining. From a professional perspective I guess the TV channels need to find a way to maintain the discussion going, perhaps by tweeting themselves? I think the instant nature of twitter will make it a bit difficult to keep the bzzz going for a show that is shown once a week?
I also thought the constellation didn’t work well. I think it’s partly due to the short length of twitter messages, which for such a serious programme were probably insufficint and should have included links to a forum for more serious debate.
Thanks again
Gil

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