There was an unusual eddy of TV and Social Media synergy swirling at this year’s Emmy Awards. During a segment spotlighting the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show 50 years ago, former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood stepped out on stage to sing the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and became the most socially-buzzed about topic of the night. There were some 17,090 tweets per minute about Underwood’s performance.
Think about it: people tweeted about a singer who became famous for appearing on a popular TV show, who sang a song honoring a historical TV event during a broadcast that spotlights the best of TV – as they were watching on their TV. It’s TV’s past, present, and future, all in one song.
Underwood herself even tweeted about her own personal highlight – the letter that she received from Sir Paul McCartney giving her his blessing to sing his song for the event.
No, he didn’t tweet his letter to her. Sorry, but “Now I need a place to tweet away…” wouldn’t have had the same lyrical gravitas. Although Sir Paul does have an official Twitter feed.
The producers even had the foresight to add an iPad just offstage as what they called a “Twitter Mirror”. People following along on Twitter could see what was going on as celebrities left the stage.
But this wasn’t just exclusively just a Twitter event, socially. Facebook was also on overdrive about Emmy talk. The Wrap cited the data editor of Facebook, who said that there were 7.1 million Emmy-related interactions by about 4.8 million users – which means in his estimation that more than a quarter of all Emmy viewers had a Facebook interaction about the broadcast.
What marketer wouldn’t take a 25% call-to-action response?
TV viewers have made it their habit. They flock to social media to discuss television. The motivations are diverse – “Carrie Underwood is guilty of murder. She just killed ‘Yesterday’”. “Loved Carrie on the Emmys. She was flawless! ”. “Carrie Underwood? Why not just get Paul himself?” There’s hate, there’s love, and there’s a bit in the middle. So whether it’s for validation, vitriol, boredom or bombast, we’re not just shouting at our TV anymore. We have a real voice through social media, a pathway which connects us to the bigger community of television.
Social media gives us a way to lean forward without having to stop leaning back.
It’s the transactional mechanism by which we trade in our Cultural Currency. (This is such a valuable commodity that the TVB and Colligent conducted a primary research study that looked deeper into Americans’ use of social media as it relates to television. It’s available in the research section of our website, www.tvb.org.)
To quote Good Morning America’s Sam Champion: “The bottom line is that it’s actually more interesting to watch when you’ve got Twitter going and the TV right in front of you.”
Perhaps in another fifty years, they can celebrate the contributions that Twitter has made to the TV landscape using another less iconic, but more spot-on Beatles song: “Tell Me What You See.”