Television shows should be doing more to integrate social media, says Punch Communiations

With news this week that viewers of the U.S. version of The X Factor will be able to vote for their favourite contestant via the Direct Message function on Twitter, Social Media Agency Punch Communications suggests that UK television should be doing more to integrate with popular social networking sites.

It was during the 2008 presidential election when viewers first saw live Twitter messages appear on their television screens and since then, social media and television - often referred to as ‘social TV’ - has become the perfect marriage. It is now a regular occurrence to see popular television shows asking their viewers to ‘join in the discussion’ on Facebook or Twitter. Popular ‘semi-reality’ television show ‘The Only Way is Essex’ encourages its audience to share their thoughts using networking sites and then proceed to read out some examples at the start of every advert break – using every opportunity to encourage people to get involved.

However, the step that The U.S. X Factor has taken, allowing its audience to use social media in order to affect the outcome of the show rather than just sharing opinions, is taking social TV to a new level and merely emphasises the fact that British television is not yet doing enough to integrate with social media.

Emilie Legrand, Account Executive at PR Company Punch Communications explains: “This year, reality show Big Brother has allowed viewers to vote to save their favourite housemate via Facebook but only once they have purchased Facebook credits, which is a sizeable barrier to entry. It’s a step in the right direction, but there is still a long way to go before TV and social are truly integrated.

“Integrating social media is something that a large number of television programmes should be doing. Not only does it engage a viewer, it retains that engagement and keeps them coming back each week to watch the show again. It works especially well with shows that are live because the audience can then react straight away – the U.S. talent show ‘The Voice’ is a perfect example of this as the judges tweet live from their desks throughout the show. It is actions like this that really captivate an audience and make them feel like they are being brought into the show itself.”

Now that the technology on Twitter is in place, Punch predicts that more television shows will be incorporating this option into their voting structure, 2012 will be the year of social media television show vote.

Punch Communications is an integrated social media, PR and Search Agency, for further information call +44 1858 411600 or visit punchcomms.com.