Twitter, it’s one of the most annoying social media platforms (almost beating out 2013 Tumblr) and sometimes the best. At the beginning of the pandemic, we were all stuck inside with nothing to do.
In mid-March, that all changed, at least for some Twitter users, who were big fans of Doctor Who and had a Twitter simulcast of the 50th-anniversary special that aired six years prior. The event sparked a change in how streaming services and TV providers are advertising their TV programmes.
Twitter and watch alongs
Twitter has become a household name of social media and has always had people tweet about TV shows. Sometimes for weeks on end, as a mystery continues. Continuing conversations and hyping up the endings, and setting expectations a little too high. But it worked in keeping up the conversation and was free marketing for TV programs and films.
The first big ‘Tweet along.’
However, until March 2020, the act of live-tweeting along to a film didn’t have a name.
Then a Twitter user known as Emily Cook, a producer for Doctor Who Magazine, organized a watch along (simulcast) on Twitter for the 50th-anniversary special, known as Day of the Doctor.
A new minisode (penned by Steven Moffat, ex-writer of the show) was also released. This release, paired with the size of the fandom and its presence on Twitter, amassed an astounding audience. With hundreds of thousands of fans tweeting out. The tweet along continued until the third lockdown. Still, it did garner a lot of attention from the press.
Other companies jumped on the trend for promotional content. The most recent TV programme to use the tweet along format was the new iCarly revival. Which had a new tweet- along every week, an episode was released, with cast and writers joining in on the fun.
What has it helped do
Simulcasts, Tweet-along, or rewatches ( any old way you say it, and I will use all three throughout the piece.) are helpful for many reasons: promotion for old and new shows. For example, a new show like the iCarly revival had a tweet along with the cast and crew joining in.
Cast and crew joining in with the tweet enable the fans to find out behind-the-scenes information and ask questions about episodes, which they might not get answers to even if they went to a convention.
Whereas streaming service BritBox has used it to promote old shows they’ve put on the streaming service.
The two most recent ones being the Sarah Jane Adventures and Footballers wives’. Interacting with old TV shows in a modern way gives the audience a reason (such as giving their opinion or a live reaction) to watch the old shows.
However, if a show like The Sarah Jane Adventures has cultural prevalence. The rewatch isn’t about giving the modern audience a need to react to what they see (although it does play a part). The rewatch becomes more about a community of fans sharing their opinion and responding to each other, which can put positivity back into fandom and provide new love for an old show. Even though a writer doesn’t return for those types of rewatches, and they’re a bit more niche, the tweet along’s are still hugely popular and work well for advertisement.
Why is tweet along such as good thing?
Tweet-along’s and rewatches are suitable for many reasons. For a tv show, a tweet along is free advertising. You use Twitter (which is free), and then other people use the appropriate hashtags to get the word out. People then check out that hashtag and will then check out the show and service provider. The audience does the company’s work, and TV providers and streaming services have a method of free marketing up their sleeve.
The audience also gains from the watch along’s. Audience members can find information from cast and crew members, interact with other fans and gain a sense of community. If you are funny enough, you can get a couple of extra followers.
The Tweet-along’s can also revive dead tv shows as fans begin to organise their own ones without the company’s help. It can help pass the time between a series ending. They are stopping a TV show from gathering dust. Ultimately it keeps the conversations going.
In the end, a Tweet-along has added to the way media companies advertise to their audience more cheaply and easily. It also makes it more accessible, interactive and engaging with fans and enables a modern fan to connect with a show no matter how old or dead it is culturally.
Plus, it's just a fun thing to do that I think more entertainment providers should try to utilise.
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