Monday, 29 August 2011

Vote by texting and calling...oh and now through Facebook

As the season of Reality TV kicks off, it comes to no surprise that social media innovator Facebook has partnered with channel Five's Big Brother to enable fans of the show to vote online with Facebook Credits.
This is the latest sign of how live television is being complemented by social media and emphasises even more the convergence of online and TV.

By implementing online voting through Facebook, Big Brother will be tapping into a new audience. A study by Thinkbox found that around 50% of people who watch TV also go on the internet at the same time. Social media has become a key platform for generating discussions about TV shows and even more so for reality TV (the X Factor and Big Brother being the most talked about) where viewers watch live TV and vote to save or eliminate contestants.

Discussions on Facebook groups set up by such shows offer fans a deeper engagement by forming a personal relationship with thier audience and enabling a prolonged interest in the show.
According to Peter Fincham, ITV’s director of television, this so-called “dual screening” behaviour by viewers “shows they care about what they’re watching.

Voting via Facebook will provoke greater online interaction through its ability to virally distribute and share what fans are voting for. Similar to when Facebook users 'Like' something, their friends will see this activity pop up in their news feed. Reality TV shows are a huge topic of conversation on Facebook with users regularly using their status update as a platform to share their opinion on contestants as the show airs on live TV.
Consequently the move into voting with Facebook credits seems like a natural step forward - but how will it work?
Voting will occur through a specially created app on the TV show's Facebook page. Similar to text/call to vote messages, viewers will be prompted to use the Facebook voting app by the show’s presenter on TV. To use it, Facebook members must pre-pay money into their credits accounts.

The success of voting via Facebook will be determined by the ease of use of the voting app and how well the new system is promoted both on and offline. It will be interesting to also see how voting via Facebook will implement real-time voting. More often than not (and I am a culprit of this), people tend to assume that their favourite contestant is safe from eviction and don't bother to vote. However Facebook will greater provoke votes as users and fans of the page see will see votes being cast in real time.
Voting via Facebook is about to change the dynamic of reality TV shows and it won't be long before this method is implemented across a whole host of TV shows.

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