Saturday, May 28, 2011

to the backchannel!

(Or, TV Hashtags, Part 1)

TV shows use hashtags to organize real-time word-of-mouth about finale episodes.

On Vampire Diaries, fans were invited to talk about the show on Twitter with a designated hashtag. (No, I am not ashamed of my keen interest in shows that feature high school / college students like Vampire or now-defunct Greek.) In this case #Klaus, the villain of the season. It makes me wonder if the writers were asked to select a name for the character that would be unique to and associated with the show. (Past villains like Katherine or Elijah don't really have unique names.)

The (pretty awesome) Fringe finale invited fans to tag their tweets with the show title.

As viewers start to shift behavior to watching TV at their preferred time (TiVo) and in their preferred format (online), one of the biggest challenges facing TV networks in the US is adding value to the broadcast experience. Is Twitter the fix? 

Watching live TV in the US has become a two-screen activity for some, where the show airs on television and the user follows or participates in the real-time commentary on Twitter. It gives an interesting perspective into other veiwers' and fans' reactions at the same time you are all watching.

I don't think this will be a problem for a long time in the Philippines but it would be interesting to take some of the experiments in real-time commentary to our own viewing experiences: Should the UAAP flash a hashtag on screen as the series unfolds? Should controversial print or TV ads invite reactions by including a hashtag in the material? Maybe concert tickets should invite users to tweet under the same #justinbieberph to document reactions to the show.

Hashtags are commonly used in the Philippines, but seemingly spur-of-the-moment. During Ondoy people all seemed to come up with their own tags. Can't wait to see which brand or event dictates the tag to unite commenters under one Twitter thread.

(Click for TV Hashtags, Part 2)


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