Television and Twitter: Together at Last?

I have seen the future and it is here.

It was only a matter of time before television and Twitter came together. As someone who has been actively studying hashtags for years (disclosure: I am a Twitter junkie and one of the founders of a hashtag analytics company) and as the wife of a developer who has watched her husband designing advanced systems for the cable industry, I am really excited about this.

It’s the dawn of a new era of television and Internet.

The lines are blurring and your entertainment options and experiences are getting more and more social and engaging, every day. Particularly with new devices like Xbox 360 that bring the web to your tv.

Sure I could tweet awkwardly on my phone, or balance a laptop on my lap while I watch the Emmy awards and the Superbowl, and all my favorite shows. But how much cooler is it to have the ability to tweet and check my stream right there on the television screen, in real time?

What’s next, you wonder?

Practically everything from ad campaigns to television shows, award ceremonies, sporting events and political campaigns have a hashtag these days. Even natural disasters have hashtags. Hurricane Sandy saw unprecedented volume on Twitter and this had real life repercussions for many people. Aid was dispatched, people felt moved to help, news crews were able to get the story out in real time, and even those who were far, were near. We were connected.

It makes sense in an emergency, but none of this would be happening if it wasn’t for the growth of this mode of info-engagement entertainment on a regular basis. Sometimes it’s meaningful and sometimes it’s less so…

You can thank reality tv for some of that. People love to take to the Internet to talk about reality tv. They do it while watching, and after.

It’s hard to understand the appeal of tweeting while viewing if you’ve never sat and dished over an episode of The Real Housewives (#RHOC for the Orange County version) with your real life & cyber friends. Tweeting while watching television turns the experience into a group activity and adds a layer of social interaction that just didn’t exist in the past. It’s a way to engage with shows and events and dig deeper.

Sometimes the experience is purely social, but some television shows and networks have caught on and are doing an excellent job of capitalizing on this social phenomenon. They’ve gone one step beyond, inviting cast members to interact with fans during show chats, revealing plot and “behind the scenes” details to tweeters, and reserving special treats and details for online audiences only. Some talk shows are featuring the live tweets of viewers and using Twitter as a way to reach out to viewers for content submission.

This is television gone interactive

I’m thrilled to see where the networks will take this next. I’m keeping an eye on ABC – they are super progressive with their hashtag usage (I’m not just saying that because of the affiliation with Disney/Babble!). My daughters were the first to point out that all our favorite ABC and ABC Family shows display hashtags in the bottom corner of the screen during broadcast. I can’t wait for the technology to click on that tag and have the convo pop up in a box or a side bar. I know it’s not far away for systems like my Xbox 360, which already lets me view and tweet at the same time.

If you do tweet and watch at the same time, it’s a good idea to keep etiquette in mind. If you are on the East Coast, you’ll want to use the tag #SpoilerAlert before revealing anything that might ruin the experience for those with a later feed. Or you may want to refrain from reading certain tags if you hate spoilers!

TV Tags to Try:

Do you watch any of these shows? The next time you’re watching live, try doing a twitter search for one of these tags:

  • #TheVoice
  • #TheTalk
  • #DWTS (Dancing with the Stars)
  • #TheWalkingDead
  • #OnceUponaTime
  • #PrettyLittleLiars
  • #Suburgatory
  • #Revenge
  • #Homeland
  • #DowntonAbbey
  • #TheGoodWife
  • #ModernFamily
Or follow the commentary, if you can keep up with it, of one of these event driven tags:
  • #Emmys
  • #Oscars
  • #Superbowl
InsideTV has a pretty comprehensive list of fall shows using hashtags.
Do you have any hashtagged show that you love to follow? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

More from me:

Movies to Weather a Storm with

Best Video Games for Families

How to Take Great Holiday Card Photos
More Casa de Chaos adventures:

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