The Psychology Behind Social TV Social TV hashtag during TV shows

Not long ago, I was sitting with a friend watching  Suits, when a small symbol popped up on the screen. Before I knew it, my friend had whipped out his smartphone and was clicking away on Twitter. It floored me that the program was in midstream and my buddy was engaging in a conversation about something Harvey said. The program was still going.

Not more than a week later, I was watching a Pay Per View fight during a party and another friend snatched up his iPad and started typing away. The fight was in full swing and he wanted to report on it—providing a play-by-play perspective over Facebook. We’re screaming at the contestants, while he’s arguing form and technique with some guy from across the country.

It got me thinking: When did Social Media and TV merge and when did this live engagement during programming become a habit? I’m not sure many would argue that social media has become an extreme addiction, not just a social past time. Facebook has become more like In-Yer-Facebook, where the most common joke is how everyone and their dog has something to post for all to read. Is that what TV shows have become? A place where anyone and everyone can throw in their two cents about what they’re watching, or is there more? Is this a new vehicle that allows fans to interact? A method of creating a hive mind of activity that perhaps heightens one’s viewing experience? Or is this a way for lonely people who have few interests and social engagements to join a common collective?

Here’s another thought: Can Social Media change the popularity of a show?

I was at a party where a few friends were debating how popular some of the current programs were. In one corner was Castle, in the other, the long running Desperate Housewives. Aside from the male remarks of how hot the women were in Housewives, most agreed that Castle was the better show. Yet when an iPhone was produced and Facebook consulted, Castle had an astounding 2,819,869 fans, while Desperate Housewives had a mind-boggling 11,391,709 fans. Now here’s the clincher: when the figures from Facebook were in, the views of the group switched sides! The very presence of more Facebook “Likes” on one show suddenly gave it more merit and credibility? Seriously? I felt like I was surrounded by lemmings. In one respect, it’s appalling. In another, it’s absolutely fascinating that social media had such a profound influence on the views of those who watch TV shows. It wasn’t long before I found some interesting facts on Pinterest that displayed the connection, effect and ratings of TV shows, Social Media and viewers. Here’s what I discovered about people who use smartphones or tablets to engage with their favorite programming:

  • 30% looked up product info from an ad they saw on TV.
  • 42% looked up info related to the program they were watching.
  • 50% visited a social network during a commercial break .
  • 52% visited a social network during the program.

Is this the future of TV and social networks? It sure looks like it. Viewers taking an active role in the popularity of a show, in real time, and having that fame spread overnight? It’s very possible. Oh, and back to that example of Castle and Desperate Housewives, neither show even made it onto the popularity listings of real time social network activity quoted by TrendrrTV. This is based on all live activity across Facebook, Twitter, GetGlue, and Viggle during their telecasts. On the “Top 2012 Social TV Shows” list, The Walking Dead kills it with 6,164,030 mentions and Pretty Little Liars swears they got 10,375,944. But who topped the chart in 2012 with 21,746,338? You guessed it: SpongeBob Squarepants. Welcome to the Age of Enlightened Social TV. Follow Emiah and share your thoughts @EmiahGardner