I’ve got a confession to make.
I watch The Voice. I like it. I watched the American version featuring Christina Aguilera and enjoyed that; so I looked forward to the Australian version and have had fun watching the blind auditions. The current live shows? I’m not enjoying those so much …
But I digress.
The point of this blog is to look at the social media program of The Voice.
The Voice is one of a number of TV shows that is using social media to:
- Listen to audience feedback
- Promote the show’s brand and products
- Lift the profile of the show and generate buzz
They’re certainly not the first or the only ones doing this: the ABC’s Q&A has long been displaying the viewing audience’s tweets on screen. The Block is using social media, The Biggest Loser, My Kitchen Rules and other reality TV shows.
But The Voice seems to have spread its tentacles a little further:
- Each contestant has a Twitter handle and that’s displayed on-screen along with audience voting details
- Each celebrity judge has a Twitter handle and tweets about the show; sometimes chatting with each other, offering feedback on the performances and occasionally chatting with their Twitter followers
- Public tweets are displayed on screen
- It has a few hashtags: not just #thevoiceau, but also for example #teamseal and #teamdelta
- Social media interactions are strongly encouraged, with the co-host sitting in a room with contestants shown (somewhat awkwardly) reading public comments sent in.
The Voice has also cleverly made all contestant tracks available for download in iTunes. That’s a fantastic move for fans and the brand. I wouldn’t purchase any of the tracks, but years ago as a fan of the first Australian Idol series, I may have purchased a track or two. It makes sense to have them available.
I took a snapshot of leading reality TV shows’ Twitter and Facebook fan numbers (as at 16 May 2012):
MasterChef Twitter 46,021 Facebook 890,248 (Total 936,269)
The Voice Twitter 50,366 Facebook 225,566 (Total 275,932)
The Block Twitter 5,203 Facebook 162, 164 (Total 167,367)
Biggest Loser Twitter 6,263 Facebook 64,090 (Total 70,353)
MasterChef has the biggest overall numbers and this is not surprising because it’s been screened annually for several years and has a jump start on shows like The Voice. It’s intriguing however, to see that The Voice already has a larger Twitter audience.
The imbalance between Facebook and Twitter audiences (for all shows) is an indicator of where Australians spend their time: more are Facebook users.
This isn’t a complete snapshot of numbers for these TV shows’ social presence. They have offshoot social media sites, most developed by fans. For example, the Biggest Loser’s Commando coach has more than 17,000 fans on this Commando unofficial Facebook page.
How about a quality measure? I’ve appointed myself the judge here, and looked at the nature of the tweets being sent from the TV show accounts …
This morning The Voice Twitter account sent the following tweet “What I love most about #thevoiceau …” aimed at encouraging interaction (and perhaps a tilt at trending). It gained little traction, with only a handful of responses immediately afterward. What does this mean? Perhaps fans only want to interact with The Voice when the show is airing, or immediately after. It’s two days after the live show now, and it would appear fans are disengaged.
This isn’t to say that the tweet was the wrong move. I would think The Voice wants to encourage week-long engagement and that was a good experiment to undertake. Perhaps questions related to actual contestants would have sparked more conversation, rather than a somewhat blatant “tell me what you love about me”.
The Block sent a similar tweet: “You all seem to love the music on The Block…if you could choose one song to be in an episode what would it be?” and while it had a few more responses, it didn’t gain a lot of traction either.
There’s not a lot of personality in the tweets, but again that might be because they’re sticking to brand (and also staying safe online). While there’s some enthusiasm and warmth (and a lot of exclamation marks!) there’s not much fun, ribbing or probing of fan feedback. Most tweets revolve around recounting what’s happened in the show, asking the audience what they think, and occasional interaction with an audience individual.
(By the way, MasterChef community manager: you need to update the Facebook bio, which reads “It all begins Sunday May 6”.)
Of course, the social media interactions for these brands are just the tip of the iceberg. Their official websites no doubt gain massive online traffic, and these sites have their own online communities. It’s important to have these, to cater to non-social media audiences and also have some more ‘control’ and ownership of your brand online.
In a future post, I’ll be exploring tweeting while watching television. I touched on this last year in Twitter Encourages Live TV Viewing.