X-Factor? I’m A Celeb? They’re all much better on Twitter
December 6, 2010 4 Comments
Reality TV is the pop culture people love to hate. Beyond hate.
People revel in performing intellectual snobbery upon its formulaic structure and money-grabbing associations. And yet it’s one of the main reasons behind the readerships of glossy weeklies at this time of the year. More interestingly, the entertainment level of this years’ crop of weekend shows has risen for those who watch with an accompanying laptop: Twitter has made the un-watchable essential viewing.
As a culture, arts or comment journalist, you should already be aware of this networking phenomenon.
And so much more besides. The secret behind any good comedy quiz show is the banter that surrounds a few irrelevant questions. The same principle applies to Cher Lloyd, Anne Widdecombe, and Stacey Solomon’s antics. What they have in common, beyond the fact they have subjected themselves to the scrutiny of millions of TV viewers is they have also all got hashtags on Twitter (#cher, #widdecombe, #stacey) and are now under the examination of millions of fans, viewers and – essentially – journalists.
The witty tweets about them become more important than what they do on the show.
Because on weekend evenings, these four hours of often underestimated reality TV bring together critics professional and unprofessional alike. With a transatlantic time difference I have been gaining my X Factor experience across the pond by following them since September. Now back in Britain, I spent this past Saturday night in joining the Twittersphere and voicing my opinion, minute by minute, alongside thousands of other 140-character comments.
Wannabe Hacks have posted on the importance of Twitter and yet there are still budding journos out there who refuse to acknowledge its importance within the media. Trying to convince them by suggesting they spend their Saturday nights glued to reality TV is possibly not the effective method.
However, consider this: I was first @tweeted by Neil Henderson, Home Duty Editor of the BBC (@hendopolis) and Columnist of 2010 and all-round-journalist-inspiration Caitlin Moran (@caitlinmoran) whilst butting in on their ‘conversation’ about contentious The Smiths album, Hatful of Hollow. A few DMs were passed about and I’m considerably closer to having a useful contact than I would be otherwise. Think about how this could work when even more journalists are watching their tweet feeds as much as the TV screen, all thinking about the same subject and looking out for the next comment that makes them chuckle.
It’s not even all about the ‘networking’, but by joining the Twittersphere at busy times you can learn a lot about tweet etiquette. Heat Magazine, a.k.a @heatworld is a fantastic example of a Tweeter. They’re perceptive, approachable and laugh-out-loud funny. Furthermore, they know how to make their followers feel special. I @ tweeted them last week – they retweeted me and I got eight new followers. It’s a technique they use a lot, because it keeps their followers old and new interested and builds a platform of @heatworld fans to further their success.
I’m happy to further it – it’s simple things like this which are not only responsible for their high print readership but moves a tweeting journalist should be making themselves to increase traffic to their site or profile.
You know what area of journalism you want to be part of. If you don’t, follow your favourite journalists (I advise, in addition to the above, @sueperkins, @petepaphides and @samwolfson) anyway – it’ll probably become apparent what they have in common. Read, watch and involve yourself in what they’re tweeting about and put your own opinion across.
Hashtags are essential. Tweet ferociously. I don’t have a smart phone (holla if you’ve got one going spare) but I’m addicted. Twitter breaks down boundaries between celebrities, fans and the journalists between them. There’s never been a better opportunity to contact those in the know. Remember, though, it’s meant to be fun. Shameless @tweeting is bad tweet etiquette – be part of the conversation, know your style and engage in the debate, even if it is only over whether Matt Cardle is or is not a babe.
You can follow The Maverick’s news, views and comments on what she last ate here: twitter.com/@alice_emily…