So much conversation online is centered around TV shows and events -- there are over 1 billion Facebook "Likes" of TV shows in the U.S. TV has benefited from the rise of social media in creating an effect that's akin to water-cooler moments on steroids around live and must-see TV.
(It's claimed Twitter traffic increases 30x when "Glee" airs and remains at that high level until the end of the show, while Tweets around this year's VMA's peaked at 9,000 a second.)
Ten years ago, every network marketing exec added .com to the promo, this year, you'd be hard pressed to find a promo, billboard or print ad without a #hashtag and facebook icon. But it is more than just checking the proverbial social media box, it is a necessity.
The networks need viewers to discover new shows, and if no one is talking about them, they're doomed. It used to be called word-of-mouth, but now that's been accelerated in digital. These new shows need to be talked about before, during and after they've premiered.
Simultaneous consumption of smartphones/tablets and TV has magnified this trend, creating a rich seam that has not gone unnoticed by networks and program makers. From the Grammy's fantastic wereallfans.com site back in 2009, to Fox's forthcoming "X-Factor" community to leverage the U.S. launch of the show, we're seeing the organic evolution of this trend. It is augmented by a host of complementary social media activations to support these popular programs.
Most, if not all, of the major fall 2011 TV shows have been promoted using social media marketing techniques of various kinds. At the same time, the networks are looking to ignite and fan the talk value around their major programming, creating the hugely valuable "must-see" TV shows, through activations, including the ubiquitous Facebook page ("Revenge," "I Hate My Teenage Daughter") check-ins for shows (NBC's "Fan-it" and "Get Glue"), Twitter portals (The CW - incl. H8R), and utilizing talent to fuel conversation during airing ("CBS" and "The Good Wife").
Talkability (and therefore tweetability) is at its strongest when passion about a show is highest. Event TV shows, such as the Super Bowl and the Oscars are the ones where we see the greatest enhanced real-time water-cooler effect. (See the explosion of tweets after Beyonce arrived at the VMA.)
As we continue to further close the gap between social and TV, look out for more places to virtually "check-in" to shows and expect every cast member to tweet and post more than they did before. For teenagers in particular, multitasking on their phones and social media while watching TV is nothing new. Now the networks are going to make sure everyone else catches up with the trend.
People have always talked about great TV shows and that hasn't changed. Only now, that conversation has exploded cross-platform.