They Know We’re Here: Twitter Hashtags and TV Networks

Live-tweeting a show has always been my favorite part of Twitter. Finding great tweets and chatting about a new episode is one giant ice breaker. Two people might only have their fandom in common and nothing else.

To easily contribute to the conversation, tweeters use hashtags. Usually it’s the title of the show with a # in front. Sometimes this can vary if a show has more than one word or a common acronym, but getting involved isn’t a problem if there isn’t a uniform hashtag. Really all you have to do is type in the show title to get a list of related tweets.

(Not familiar with live-tweeting? This article does a good job of explaining it.)

The reason I bring this up is ABC Family’s Wednesday night comedy block. I love traditional sitcoms so I’ve often watched an episode of Melissa & Joey or recent addition Baby Daddy. Much like when Food Network started putting hashtags on their competition shows, I was surprised to see them displayed here.

Actually the phenomenon offended me a little. As in thank you networks, but I’ve been at this for three years now and don’t need you to make an official hashtag.  Stop pretending you’re “hip to the social media lingo.”

Not embellishing. That was my knee-jerk reaction. I’m still not exactly sure why. While I know it’s an overreaction to something that’s really not a big deal, for some reason it just…irks me. I feel like networks are trying to capitalize on a grassroots outpouring of fan excitement. They’re only supposed to produce the shows we love, not tell us how to watch them.

Now, I’m not calling for networks to stop this. There are probably more fans out there who feel included and appreciated. Many new tweeters, or those who haven’t tried live-tweeting before, might be intrigued enough to check out the current conversation. It’s a good thing. We all want our favorite show to succeed. Making viewers more active online helps our cause. This article discusses why hashtags should stick around.

But what about TV watchers who don’t have a Twitter account? Those people exist.

By slapping a hashtag on their hit shows, networks are advertising Twitter to a new demographic – those who aren’t familiar with social networks at all. How are they supposed to understand what the # sign next to a word means? Those who have no idea what a hashtag is most likely won’t join Twitter because of it, even if someone explains it to them later.

To me, official network hashtags seem useless. Fans who have a Twitter account, for the most part, already see them as a trending topic or on their timelines. And fans who don’t probably won’t make one  because they found out what hashtags are while watching their favorite show.

What’s the point?


Posted on August 29, 2012, in Media Industry and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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