If you watch any of the most popular shows on Television these days you have no doubt seen a hashtag somewhere on the screen.
Years ago, before the advent of social media and instant sharing, we were restricted to a phone call with 1 friend if you wanted to talk about your favourite shows in real time. If you were lucky you had 3-way calling and you could really gossip about how you felt about your favourite characters and storylines and plot twists.
And now we have Twitter. It’s a 500,000,000-way call that allows the whole world to talk about Snooki and Pauly D, who’s killing zombies on The Walking Dead or who’s getting a rose on The Bachelor. Twitter has become an instant option for sharing thoughts, feelings, disappointments and downright outrage about your favourite shows. Every week we see hashtags like #TheWalkingDead #BachCan and #ANTM filling our timelines and taking over the trending topics board.
Note: If you know that you’re going to miss an episode of your favourite show you can use a Twitter client like Tweetdeck and filter out all tweets that contain your show’s hashtag!
This year 1 show took social media in television a step further and did it in an exciting way for all fans. Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model introduced fan voting and online conversation as an equal part of the judging panel and is using super famous fashion blogger Bryanboy as the voice of the fans and the internet community.
In the first episode of the season there was almost a mention per minute of fan voting, Facebook, blogs, social media, text, online and included scenes showing audience members on their phones with tweets being displayed on screen as well as the girls on Skype with friends and family members. During the auditions and judging panel Facebook likes and votes were mentioned in almost half of the clips and ranged from negative to neutral to positive. It was a game changer and instantly showed that the audience was going to have a strong and equal voice in how Cycle 19 of #ANTM would play out.
While many reality shows have had fan voting as part of their process (American Idol, The Voice, X Factor) none have ever captured “online sentiment” as a qualifying metric in the judging process. Cycle 19 of America’s Next Top Model has changed that. You don’t have to call or text a certain phone number to support your favourite competitor. All you have to do is talk about them online. Tweet about your favourite girls, and the ones you don’t like. It’s a huge step and one that could revolutionize the way television, and especially reality television is created. And hats off to #ANTM for introducing this new feature during a college themed season.
The online engagement is a brilliant way to make the viewers and fans feel as though they have had a voice in who wins their favourite show. It is also a great way to increase viewership in a target market that loves social media, sharing and having their two cents heard. For example, I don’t think that 60 Minutes would have the same success as #ANTM, but American Idol might. Time will tell if America’s Next Top Model is the leader of a new wave of television and social media integration. The smart money is on yes.
Be ready to Tweet!