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Trendings allow for greater range of public conversation

Staff Columnist

Published: Thursday, November 29, 2012

Updated: Friday, August 23, 2013 17:08

It’s that little hashtag with the accompanying TV show or film title popping up on the bottom of your screen as you’re watching #TheVoice or #TheWalkingDead. It’s the verified celebrities, like at @ladygaga, or the official twitter accounts for your favorite shows, like @parksandrecnbc. I think this is wonderful, but then again, I’m writing a commentary article; of course, I adore having people reading my opinions, so I adore having a hashtag to relate it to. Isn’t that what Twitter or any social networking site is about, having people forcing to deal with your opinions? Promoting that hashtag and offering critiques aspect is often the only way to get someone to pay attention to the presidential debates (#debates), and has many noted benefits for marketing.

Let’s look at how hashtags work for television. What pioneered this trend was the #TrumpRoast watermark during a March 15, 2011 premiere of the Donald Trump roast on Comedy Central, used by 27,000 people in an hour. Seeing the appeal, they heavily promoted #SheenRoast for their following Charlie Sheen roast. This has led to a mass influx of official hashtags for television shows, with probably one of the more prominent examples being “The Walking Dead”. One of the ways that this show appeals to its massive audience, who are only more and more intrigued by the plot complexities as the saga goes on and thus eagerly posting their opinions on twitter, is by offering them the hashtag #TheWalkingDead for conversation in the corner.

A more important way that the show promotes Twitter involvement by its fans is by having entire sections of “Talking Dead” devoted to it. This spinoff is a half-hour live show that follows the encore presentation of The Walking Dead with its host Chris Hardwick and guest stars, who either work on the show or are huge fans, as they discuss the plot of the night’s episode. What is noteworthy is that Hardwick appears in the first commercial break of the Sunday 9 p.m. airing of “The Walking Dead” to give a hashtag related to the episode like #OneLeggedHershel or #TeamPrision. Any questions about the episode’s specific hashtags can be addressed during related “Talking Dead” section.

What is the draw for a television show, award show or even UConn campus group to having a social networking account? It’s all for publicity. Saying you get so many tweets per minute during your show or having a trending hashtag is a huge way in measuring your popularity (and getting future advertisers). It’s such a huge deal that Twitter has a guide to this topic on its website. During the presidential debates, there was much speculation over who would have the most tweets about them and at what point tweets would spike. The debate coverage further fed into the hype by live airing tweets regarding the debate (with #debates of course) on the bottom of the screen.

Turning to the UConn campus, there is a huge attempt to garner more publicity. It’s why organizations like SUBOG and HuskyTech have social media or marketing chairs who hastily update their Twitter with upcoming events or a “HuskyTech Fact of the Day”. Both are excellent ways to reach out to UConn students and to get them aware of these services on campus.

My opponent will complain that groups are adding fuel to the fire by promoting official hashtags, asking their viewers to follow the judges of “The Voice”, or informing them that Jeff Probst is live tweeting “Survivor” right now. Yet people are already drawn to Twitter. This past February they hit 500 million users, according to Media Bistro. Furthermore, Americans love to complain and critique. They’ve been doing so for centuries, and now we just have more outlets. If you can get people more involved with your show or organization just by making a Twitter account, why not immediately exploit that? It’s all in the name of good promotion, so take advantage of it.

Noting the significant number of #lizanddick tweets on my newsfeed critiquing Miss Lohan’s newest entry in the Downward Spiral Saga this past Monday, my attention was drawn to this concept in the first place. Our society is one that loves to feed off exciting “Walking Dead” revelations, cool SUBOG events and disastrous Lohan acting. We’re gonna tweet about it anyways, so why not benefit from the madness and put a hashtag in the bottom left of your show?

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