A colleague wanting to learn more about Twitter recently asked: If someone is watching a show on TV, then why would they also follow live tweets on Twitter during the show?
Good question. Three words: Sopranos season finale.
(If you’re familiar with the season finale of The Sopranos, this post will make a little more sense than if you aren’t.)
People love to be part of a conversation, group or movement. As Martin Lindstrom says in Buyology, followers “feel honored to be members of [a brand’s] fold.” This goes for anything from a car to a television show to a civic group.
So although we watch shows on television alone (or with a few other people at most, generally), it’s a collective activity when millions are watching the same thing at the same time. When something happens on a show, we want to gasp, or laugh, or say “OMG,” and see if others who are watching feel the same way, saw the same thing, or can offer some clever insight.
And Twitter has given us that capability.
Twitter was just a baby in June 2007 when the Sopranos season finale aired. While there might have been some activity then, if that finale aired today, Twitter would shut down because of tweet overload. Instead, we texted. Blogging started almost immediately, but imagine the conversations that could have taken place on Twitter.
The collective feeling Sopranos finale viewers had during the show is what drives television viewers to hop on Twitter to see what’s being said about what they’re watching at that moment.
The concept applies to television shows across the board. Live tweeting during television shows can be organic (as it would have been with The Sopranos, given HBO secretiveness about the finale) or part of an integrated marketing plan, such as CNN does with nearly all of its programs.
It’s a bandwagon marketers have to jump on, and they are: In an April 2011 post, Digital Buzz Blog reports from a Microsoft Tag study release that 86% of mobile Internet users use their devices while watching TV.
In an article from TIME’s Techland blog, it’s reported that, according to a small-scale study conducted by IPG Media Lab and YuMe, 60 percent of television watchers fidgeted with their cell phones while plopped in front of the TV and 33 percent used their laptops.
Be observant next time you’re watching your favorite television show. Chances are, a hashtag exists in the corner of the screen. Good recent example: Nicki Minaj on Good Morning America. GMA created the hashtag #GMAMinaj. Go online and see what fans said while watching the performance.