When television goes social

At first, I thought that social media such as Facebook and Twitter were there to communicate and share information between people. Half surprise, politicians jumped into it to for their communication as well. It seems hardly surprising.
But at the beginning of September 2012, as I was watching French TV (Canal+, to be honest), I realized that every single show had its own Tweeter account. Le Grand Journal, La Nouvelle Edition, and so on. I asked myself what was the point ? Why should these shows need a Twitter account ? What could they share more than through the broadcast itself ? Let’s make a round.

Before they all had a way to tweet, some of the shows on Canal+ had already a Facebook account. They were sharing and teasing information about the incoming edition :

Facebook teaser of the show “La Nouvelle Edition”

Well, it looks normal. These are daily shows, and no TV-program can inform what is going to be talked about. So, the shows announce themselves what will be the content of the next edition. And the point is also to permit the audience to comment directly on what is happening on the TV.

And then came Twitter. What for ? In no case to announce the content, as the message on the social website cannott overpass 140 signs. Too short. Here is my vision of the necessity for TV-shows to have the possibility to be followed and to tweet.

Do you remember the second screen ? Let me refresh a little. Second screen is the concept advanced when people, while they are watching television, have a laptop or anything else like that to share their point of view on what is going on. Before Facebook and Twitter, they did it so on forums or on instant messenger (as MSN Messenger). If I’m not clear enough, or if you want to learn a little bit more about it, I invite you to click here.

Today, we have social media. Thank you Facebook and Twitter to allow us to share more quickly and with more people what we think about something (here about the shows). But it is not the only one advantage that social medias offer.

With the « old » second screen, mass medias cannot hear what people were saying. There was no possibility for them to know what the audience was thinking (except with letters and mails, but it is clearly too « cold » for a reaction). With the new way of second-screening, medias such as radio and TV can follow the opinions of all the people that are following them. So that’s why almost every show on french television has its own hashtag.

Tweet me, tweet me, I wanna feel your body

Ok, it’s not very sexual to have thousands of followers. But the purpose is the same : knowing and feeling how the other react, what he thinks. And then, shows invite their audience to tweet them :

As he presents the content, Ali Badou, french animator on Canal+, it is appearing visually on the screen under the hashtag #LNE for « La Nouvelle Edition ».

They invite them but in silence. As a side note, the CSA (the organ that invigilate French radio and TV) has forbidden to talk about Facebook and Twitter because they are brands. So French animators and journalists use the term « social media » instead of the words that cannot be said.

Here are part of the twitts about “La Nouvelle Edition”

While they are watching a show or listen to the radio, people can talk about it. They are invited to comment in live what they are looking at. And this method and behaviour is so called « Social TV ». The concept is actually easy to understand : it’s the fact that television and radio, as they were one-way before, are now connected directly to the audience and interact with it. Do you want some more information about it ? I invite you to read more about the social-TV.

Fine for the web 2.0, but is it just that ? Do the French radio and television only want to open the world of communication, spread the news and « feel the body » of the spectators ? It seems more than that.

If you tweet your reaction about what you are watching at, it means also that you’re really following the show. Logical. But that is : you are carefully listening to the media… and to the advertisements.

The Huffington Post from time to time, as others web sites, indicates the audience of the shows on Twitter. This new way of measure is named « Social audience ». The more a show is tweeted, the more he has a place at the top of the ranking. Here is an example of this social audience.

As we can see, it’s not just to interact with the spectators that TV-shows have a Twitter account. It’s to capture the audience as well. And then convince the advertisers to invest higher amounts in TV spots..

Is French television shy ?

Twitter is not yet as known in France than it is in the United-States. Normal, as the social media is born there. But it has an influence on the use of Twitter in French TV. It is nowadays a little bit shy with the blue bird. Look at this video, and see how it goes in the US :

Because French people don’t twit so much ? This is part of the answer. The other reason is that the CSA, as I said it before, forbids radio and television to pronounce the names of the most famous social media.

And finally, there is probably a last reason : the French journalists feel maybe quite uncomfortable with this new way of interacting with the public. Is that an open door for any opinions, relevant or not ? Is that a change in journalism, has the public also the right to comment the news in a media? This raises many questions about journalism, and in particularly this one : is journalism going to change once again after the « shock » of web 2.0 ?

Is that relevant to know what people think about the physical appearance of a political man?

For further readings, you can follow this blog of the alumni of the Dauphine University. The contributions are made by several people who now work for medias.

Bartek Mudrecki

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