Watching the big game or your favourite TV show is not like it used to be.
Now, in a lot of cases, the TV is on in the background while people are interacting with smart phones, tablets and laptops. They are discussing a bad call or debating their favourite star’s red carpet look through twitter hashtags set up and promoted by a TV network, sports team or fan site. We’re constantly being encouraged to follow on Twitter or join the discussion on Facebook as a way of connecting and making the TV experience more social. Brands, advertisers and social media networks are all betting big on this trend continuing through 2012.
A couple of weeks ago, the sporting world’s newest social media sensation, Tim Tebow, threw an 80-yard overtime touchdown pass that not only won the game, but landed a spot on Twitter’s most-tweets-per-second list.
With an amazing 9,420 tweets per second, Mr. Tebow overtook Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement (8,868), for second on the list, behind the all-time record set in December by Japanese movie Castle in the Sky (25,088), according to figures quoted on Mashable.
With these events taking the top spots over other memorable recent moments, like Steve Job’s death, the raid on Osama bin Laden’s hideout and the Japanese tsunami, we can see that entertainment is clearly something people like to share with their friends.
Not surprisingly, it’s the same on Facebook. Of the top 25 fan pages, only four aren’t directly related to sports or celebrities: Texas Hold’em Poker, Facebook, YouTube and Coca-Cola.
We are already seeing social media play a big role in the coverage of the upcoming U.S. election. Fox used Twitter to measure reaction and encourage discussion around its Republican party debate, and NBC’s Meet the Press partnered with Facebook to display some of the more than 45,000 comments on-screen during its own debate.
Here in Canada, widespread use of social media by politicians, broadcasters and pundits has finally driven legislation aimed at repealing the ban on sharing election results while polls are still open. Fittingly, that announcement was made via Twitter.
A study by Nielsen in October, 2011, showed that 40 per cent of tablet and smartphone owners use them while watching TV, while another done in November, 2011, by Razorfish said the figure runs as high as 80 per cent.
Either way, it’s clear that a large percentage of people are looking at more than just the television.
The next step is trying to monetize it. Expect to see a lot more promotion of entertainment check-in services like Get Glue and stars live-tweeting during their shows, like popular chef Anthony Bourdain has been doing through his @NoReservations Twitter handle.
The discussion is vibrant and can add great content to a broadcast, but the social media buzz it creates can add the most important part of the equation; more viewers.
Special to The Globe and Mail
Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic . She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.
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