While some say the digital age is killing off traditional media, I think it’s more realistic to say that at this point, digital has married traditional (specifically in the case of social media and television). What do I mean by this? TV has become an experience rather than activity, largely due to social media. What do you do when your favorite contestant on the Bachelor is sent home? Or when your team wins the Super Bowl? You likely make a Facebook status or tweet about it. You share your feelings about what’s happening on television and others engage with you about it. The concept of “live tweeting” initiates a real-time conversation and ultimately a sense of community among those who are tuning into the same programming.
According to Nielsen, studies show that the relationship between social media is circular; social media activity causes TV viewership and TV viewership causes social media activity. It’s a cycle in which 48% of the time, viewership causes social media chatter, and 29% of the time, chatter on social media drives people who are not currently watching to tune in. In short, social media enhances television programming, and television programming enhances social media.
Text posts, pictures, and memes go viral almost instantly during live televised events, many of which provide some serious entertainment value (see Eli Manning meme circa 2016 Superbowl above). Trends in media are changing and some channels are seeing a decline in consumerism. However, I don’t think television has much to worry about in the upcoming years. Social media may just be a crutch for now, but it’s certainly embellished the way we watch television today.