Written by Zachary Ledbetter

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There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Twitter’s purchase of Bluefin Labs, a company that measures, monitors, and quantitatively analyzes the impact of social media mentions of television and the buzz generated around TV shows.

Since its advent in the 1940s, television has been a social entity, drawing people into discussions of character angst, bizarre plot devices, and predictive declarations. The power of television is evident in pop culture references like “Who shot JR?,” “The truth is out there,” and “Get slayed.” For decades we converged around the water cooler to discuss the serious business of Maude’s unplanned pregnancy, whether or not Ross and Rachel would finally get over their break, and cry all over again at the final episode of M*A*S*H. Television is social. We love our stories. So what does Twitter have to do with our love affair with TV? Here’s what…

Nowadays, even if there is a water cooler in the office, we may opt out of standing around it to discuss who the next American Idol should be. Now we tweet, post, and upload, then check in periodically for comments from friends and strangers. This is how we discuss such important issues as the zombie apocalypse or, say, a particularly riveting television commercial. With the popularity of instantaneous social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and all the others, it makes sense that companies would want to monopolize on the public consumption of these outlets. Think about it – social media is really just the next technological step in reaching potential consumers. What better way to broaden your advertising message than to get people tweeting and posting about your TV ad? Broadcast television and social media are a match made in advertising heaven.

Along with this shift in communication comes a shift in gauging the effects of it. Bluefin Labs is a company that specializes in keeping tabs on what people are talking about via social media outlets. And guess what they’ve found? Media chatter about television programming, including commercial advertising, is exploding all over the ‘net (www.tvb.org). The fact that companies like Bluefin Labs are multiplying like some alien creature from the X-Files is an indication of the power and authority traditional television carries in our culture. In fact, TVB.org reports that, “after consulting with several digital research specialists, it turns out that television is the only category that has specialized social media tracking services just for a single industry.” This generation’s main mode of communication is through digital space. This generation also watches a lot of TV. Word of mouth through these virtual outlets is exponential. That can have a dramatically positive affect on a business’s bottom line. This sexy new relationship between social media and television is on par with the royal wedding, people. And Twitter knows it. Bottom line, television drives conversations in cybernetic space.

Statistically, the rate of program specific social media posts increases during big events such as the Superbowl, Oscars, etc. (www.tvb.org). Everyone is watching TV, and everyone wants to talk about what they’re watching. Only now you don’t have to wait to congregate around the water cooler the next day to do it. Now you can text a vote for that Idol wannabe and send a tweet encouraging others to vote, too.

We know that television remains the number one medium of choice for information and entertainment. The loving relationship between social media and television will be a lasting one, connecting us across time and space so we can boldly go where no man has gone before.

(Statistics provided by Neilson – www.nielsen.com/us/en.html and TV Basics – www.tvb.org)

Zachary Ledbetter is an Account Executive with Newell Ledbetter Advertising Inc. Zach specializes in media placement as well as creating marketing strategies using network television, cable television, radio and the internet. Call (719) 635-9988 for more information or contact us on www.nlamedia.com