The Changing Face of Television: How TV Shows Are Moving Into the Social Media Age

Published by Engagement Labs on December 4, 2015

Technology has shifted the way we watch and discuss TV. PVRs and online streaming services have decreased the need for audiences to tune into live programming, which provides a problem for networks and advertisers looking to get the attention of audiences.

However, the shift of communication towards social media platforms has evolved the way audiences interact with their favorite programs. Social media has now become a companion for audiences to interact with shows and discuss theories with other fans, creating a new platform for networks and advertisers to leverage.

With November sweeps over and the fall finales of your favorite TV shows airing, Engagement Labs ranked the new and returning TV shows based on their social media performance to see which shows pulled out all the stops online to grab those TV ratings offline. Through our rankings we saw some interesting trends enlisted by some of the top TV shows, that is changing the way we watch TV today:

The Stars are Shining Bright

Some of the biggest TV shows are now bursting at the seams with all-star casts comprising of A-List movie stars and buzz-worthy celebrities. FOX network’s hit show Empire is a perfect example, as it boasts Academy Award nominees like Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Meanwhile, freshman hit series, Scream Queens, leverages a cast fit for a blockbuster movie with stars like Jamie Lee Curtis, Emma Roberts, Lea Michele and Nick Jonas.

Well-aware of the cast’s immense popularity, the social media marketing teams of these TV shows make the most out of their celebrity affiliation. Reposting content from these celebrities’ personal accounts, while also sharing video content of behind-the-scenes looks with the stars, these TV shows build hype around upcoming episodes, extending their reach through their social channels.

Fans love observing the real people behind their favorite characters which they manage to get a glimpse of through social media.

Spoiler-phobes Beware, Live-Tweeting is Happening

It’s almost a requirement now that the online sphere has to be buzzing with activity during the airing of a popular TV show’s latest episode. If you follow a TV show online and are missing the live airing, we’d suggest turning off your phones, laptops and tablets during that time, because live-tweeting is all the rage nowadays.

TV shows are now not only live-tweeting during episodes, but sharing the thoughts of fellow live-tweeters i.e. the stars or fans of the show. Posting gasp-worthy moments or memorable quotes, accompanied with gifs from the episode, stirs up excitement amongst fans who are watching the episode and tracking its online activity.

Similar to Empire and Scream Queens, Chicago PD, who placed second on Twitter in our eValue rankings, is notorious for tweeting during exciting moments of the episode and encouraging their fans to retweet and share. This not only drives fans to their channel, but results in continuous fan interaction as fans see that the channel is actively opening up two-way communication with them.  

Join the Social Media Fun

You’d think that TV shows would hate the fact that fans are turning to social media during the airing of their episodes, but they go by the old adage, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Rather than discouraging this type of “distracted” behaviour, networks are embracing this changing landscape of TV viewing by encouraging their fans to get involved online.

For instance, during the airing of its hit show, The Walking Dead, AMC encourages fans to participate in social media activity by posting the hashtag #TWD on the screen during the episode. The network understands that getting their viewers to spread the word online and have the hashtag trend can translate to more buzz for the show in the following week and improved ratings.

The Season Finale

There is no cliffhanger here – TV viewing has changed and it’s now both an offline and online experience. Viewers are phone-in-hand, always ready to turn to social media, which grants networks the ideal opportunity to get in front of new viewers to grow their ratings and attract new advertisers. Build that buzz, reach different users and accept the change, because the last thing you want is someone flipping the channel on you whether it’s offline or online.

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About eValue™:

The eValue™ score measures the effectiveness of a brand’s overall social media performance on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram and provides a score from 0 – 100. It’s the aggregate of the three subscores including Engagement, Impact, and Responsiveness that work together to create one top-level KPI. Our subscores are calculated by using hundreds of submetrics which are then benchmarked against a hand-picked database of 100,000 verified brand accounts on each channel.

Engagement: Measures the level of interaction generated by your content and how well your community reacts to it.

Impact: Measures how many unique users have potentially been exposed to a piece of content posted by the channel’s admin through organic, viral and paid reach.

Responsiveness: Measures the rate, speed and quality of your responses to fans.