Everyone has their guilty pleasures. One of my many is watching singing competitions on TV. American Idol is in its 11th season, and there are only so many ways Ryan Seacrest can suspensefully inform a singer of his or her fate. So I was beyond giddy when I heard about The Voice for two reasons: 1) Christina Aguilera 2) social media. Let's just get Xtina out of the way — I love her, she’s my favorite singer ever. I could gush on and on, but let’s focus on what really makes this show stand out: its social media integration.
Ok, moving on for real now...
WHY IS SOCIAL TV SO IMPORTANT?
According to B&T, 27% of people polled watched a TV show based on a recommendation from a friend via a social networking site. On top of that, 26% of people polled also reported being made aware of the existence of a TV show by seeing a post about it on a social media platform (I first heard about The Voice on Twitter). Furthermore, Nielsen, the holy grail of TV ratings, recently released a study that reports 45% of tablet owners, and 41% of smartphone owners, use their device while watching television. So why not just steer the viewer’s online conversation? The Voice has done just that by strategically placing #TheVoice on the screen when they think people are most likely to tweet about the show.
The powers that be think we should feel compelled to tweet about Adam's sultry stare.
Producers at The Voice attribute their high ratings to use of this hashtag. As many as 70% the show’s tweets during the first live episode included the hashtag “#TheVoice,” which is about twice the industry average. Upwards of 3,000 tweets per minute are hitting the web during its airtime — and that doesn't account for the thousands of tweets during the other 21-22 hours of the day. The Voice has successfully become a 24-hour social media conversation.
WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE VOICE?
What separates The Voice from other TV shows is that it doesn’t use social media only as a marketing tool — social media is the core of the show and its integration is organic. One of the first things contestants are given when they land in LA is a Samsung Galaxy Tablet, and training in blogging and social media use. The Voice has a room dedicated to social media, and contestants interact with fans on the air when they're not singing. Several times during the show contestants answer Tweeter’s questions live. Leading the social conversation on air is The Voice’s Social Media Correspondent. Last season, Alison Haslip held down the fort, and since The Voice was considered so successful in the realm of social media, I am unsure why she was replaced by singer Christina Milian for the second season.
The V Room is where the social media magic happens!
STARTING A TREND
According to Bluefin's rankings, The Voice has one of the highest levels of social-media engagement among all shows. During its first season, it held the #1 ranking among all episodic TV shows. This is in part because the official twitter account for the show, @NBCTheVoice, keeps time with the West coast broadcast. Now that The Voice is in its second season, the competition with American Idol is really heating up.
American Idol is copying many of the social media techniques utilized by The Voice, but not well. AI contestants' Twitter handles (quite obviously created by some higher-ups, with no respect for individuality) are now being pushed onto the audience regularly. The show has started showing screenshots of Twitter conversations between the contestants and the artists whose songs they've been covering. There have been rumors that AI judges (unlike the "coaches" on The Voice) have been asked not to use the phrase, “the voice,” when providing feedback to singers. But The Voice definitively knocked any competition between the two by the wayside when Kelly Clarkson, arguably the most popular American Idol winner, tweeted she was cheating on American Idol by watching The Voice. Then in season two, Kelly was brought on The Voice as a guest mentor.
I have to admit, while I love the concept behind the blind auditions and coaches in The Voice, American Idol still has better singers. My interest in the expanding world of social media, and love for Christina Aguilera, however, are what keep me tuning into The Voice each week. I have a feeling we are going to continue to see crossover elements in both shows, and I hope the competition to stay atop the ratings benefits the viewers, and continues to pave the way towards more social television shows.
Do you think the social media integration found in The Voice is the future of television?
- Allison Rossi