Where Twitter Meets TV: Social Media and the Small Screen

Occasionally, in between a lot of editing and social media, I get to actually write something of my own for work. This time, I wrote about two of my favorite things: TV and Twitter. The following was originally posted on SEOSavvy.com

 

When it comes to entertainment, people are talking as much about TV as they are movies these days. Between smaller networks like AMC and TBS producing original content, and online services like Hulu Plus, Netflix, and soon Amazon doing the same, the landscape of the small screen is rapidly changing. Another notable change of last decade has been the rise of social networks, and, due to the rapid-fire nature of communication, TV has become an actively discussed topic online.

So where is the connection here? It’s pretty simple: New programming airs at a set time every week, across the country. With streaming capabilities both legal and otherwise, we’re all looking to ingest our entertainment the way we do our news; as it is occurring. And what social networking site stands out as a real time news source? Twitter, without a doubt.

You can’t exactly live-tweet a movie, but TV brings about a conversation. Just as TV was once marketed as the way to bring your family together each night for quality bonding time, it has now become the way you connect with friends and others with a shared interest across the globe (or at least, in your own time zone). Once upon a time, we were limited to sharing our thoughts in person, then on the phone, through text, and for some, via blogs or other online forums. Now, we have the ability to reach fans we didn’t even know existed – and the networks have taken notice. So naturally, both they and Twitter have begun to make use of this connection.

 

Amp It Up

The primary catalyst of all of this is Twitter Amplify. Along with their ad-targeting initiative, Amplify works to bring together the networks, advertisers, and the users of Twitter, showing you exactly what it is you want to see, based on your viewing habits. They push out clips, behind-the-scenes images, etc., and gather your information based on what you retweet, hashtag, and reply to.

They’ve begun by targeting the largest events, in order to reach the most viewers; Capturing moments that everyone will be talking about – like Ellen’s now infamous group selfie at the 2014 Academy Awards – and adding in product placement. Another way in which Amplify has utilized the power of social sharing is by coupling advertisements with short clips (in the vein of Instagram and Vine), allowing them to package the little moments you want and share them easily without having to do any of the legwork yourself. And they receive revenue from the advertisers as a reward.

Not surprisingly, this social video integration comes from a former YouTube executive, where short online videos first became part of the social space. Partnering with Viacom, a global media corporation that owns networks such as BET, MTV, and Comedy Central, Amplify was a natural way for Twitter and TV to bundle their monetary goals. Twitter needs the money in order to maintain its profitability, and television is also suffering from a cash flow problem.

 

How We Talk

Working to interpret Twitter “conversations” is key to marketing on the platform. Initially, hashtags (in addition to the 140 character limit) were what made Twitter stand out, and have proven to be influential in the television game. Shows have begun to include unique hashtags on the screen during broadcast, encouraging users to chat about the show, a specific episode, or even a particular moment in an episode that may cause a reaction. Fans will tweet using the hashtag, and be able to connect with one another to discuss and share ideas and opinions.

The accounts for each show or network will also tweet using these specific hashtags, giving them a perfect way to measure how many people are watching, and determine who is their target audience. Programs like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars, which has a predominately teen female fan base, has capitalized on this extensively. The show received a number of Shorty Awards (which honors the most influential social media accounts and content creators across the web) due to its revolutionary practice of actively engaging members of the fan base across the web through contests, polls, and more.

Twitter now even supplies data to Nielsen, whose previous methods had become an increasingly unreliable way of determining who watches what, especially with Hulu, Netflix and Amazon taking the lead on how we view our shows. Nielsen has been breaking down the audience by gender and age, and helping to determine in which demographics programs are failing or succeeding. At this point, you can determine which shows are being watched right now without even needing to turn on your TV, simply by accessing the Discover tab on your Twitter app, where you’ll see live reactions whilst a show is airing.

 

It’s Not Just Twitter

Tumblr is also important in the TV game. As previously stated, in the days before social networking, we didn’t have many ways to discover others who were interested in the same shows as us. Events such as Comic Con – which have been held since the 1970s but only became more popular in the last 20 years – are one way to meet up with fellow fans, but a yearly event was hardly enough in our increasingly fast-paced world.

So out of the LiveJournal and Xanga communities came Tumblr. Members from almost every fandom – which is the name for the subsets of fans that have grown from each TV show or franchise – has made a home here, utilizing Tumblr as a hub for fan fiction, fan art, and much more for programs of every variety, from BBC’s Sherlock to Fox’s Sleepy Hollow.  There may actually be more TV buzz on Tumblr than Twitter: A study reported by AdAge showed that while Twitter received the bulk of the real-time traffic, viewers took to Tumblr to re-blog GIF sets and express long-form reactions for days after an episode aired.

When it comes to advertisements, however, Tumblr doesn’t currently have the same methods of targeting demographics as Twitter. But this may be changing – after Tumblr was bought by Yahoo last year, they also partnered up with Viacom. MTV’s 2014 Movie Awards last month was the perfect event to launch their promotion across the community blogging platform. Nevertheless, the landscape is still shaky, and Tumblr will have to carve out their niche in order to play at Twitter’s level.

 

Future Developments

But the Twitter-TV partnership isn’t without its faults. It’s not surprising that with the success of mini hyper-relevant ads on social media, TV would start to try and break off a piece on their own small screen. Execs at MTV, The Weather Channel, and Turner are working on ways to bring what’s trending right now in your area to your commercial breaks, via their sponsors. We have all kinds of integrated advertising on TV already, but this attempt at up-to-the-minute ads could change where the money is going, especially during popular events. But while their viewer’s eyes may be on the screen while the action is on, their fingers will still be at full attention on their tablets and smartphones.

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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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The following is my review of the new film The Amazing Spider-Man 2 for ScreenPicks.com

What I love most about superhero movies is their directness. It’s generally a simple concept: A hero emerges and rises, out of necessity, to protect his or her city from evil. A good film based on a comic book takes this simple plot and adds on layers; layers of emotions, conflicts between desires and perceived responsibilities, life lessons and maturation, and the complex yet matrixed worlds in which we place these heroes.

In The Amazing Spider-Man 2, we are once again engulfed in Marc Webb’s depiction of modern New York City. Andrew Garfield, again portraying Peter Parker and his webbed alter ego, is probably the most convincing 18 year-old young adult played by an actor in his thirties. Parker’s clumsy nerd works well coming from a lanky Brit with a fairly convincing Brooklyn accent, and Spider-Man’s quips are even smoother as Garfield becomes increasingly comfortable in his blue and red spandex.

Our story begins with the high school graduation of Peter and Gwen Stacy (again played by Emma Stone), where the two seem considerably happier than when we left them at the end of The Amazing Spider-Man, following the funeral of Gwen’s father. Throughout the film, Peter struggles with his love for Gwen and his desire to honor Captain Stacy’s dying wishes: that so long as Peter is Spider-Man, he stays away from her for her own protection. This internal battle is accentuated by Stone and Garfield’s real-life chemistry, which permeates their characters, and the resulting back-and-forth between the two on screen provides satisfying entertainment throughout the film.

Another pleasing element to the movie is the mystery involved. The first installment in this series provided a few suggestions that Peter’s conversion into Spider-Man may not have been an accident and that his father, a scientist working with Dr. Curt Connors (The Lizard) may have been partly responsible. In the current installment, Peter begins to actively investigate these clues to his parents and their disappearance.

Far and away, the character that I enjoyed the most was Max Dillon, portrayed by the undeniably talented Jamie Foxx. It’s difficult to imagine such a charismatic and handsome actor as a socially inept nerd, but Foxx pulls it off. Max pre-electrocution was a lonely and sad but well-intentioned Oscorp scientist, and the actor manages to maintain that underlying personality somehow even when Max transforms into Electro. I admit that, after seeing the previews featuring Electro, I was afraid we were in for another Lizard-like villain, but I was happily surprised.

If dealing with his new electrically-charged foe, his star-crossed romance, and his growing curiosity regarding his parents’ disappearance weren’t enough, Peter reconnects with an old pal, who happens to be the new man-in-charge at Oscorp. Harry Osborne (Dane DeHaan) arrives just prior to his father’s death, and we quickly learn he’s dying of the same mysterious illness that sent his dad to an early grave. While Peter is connecting the dots between his own father’s research at Oscorp and subsequent disappearance, Harry is experiencing unpleasant changes, and quickly begins to take drastic measures in order to save himself and take back control of his father’s company. Predictably, this causes a bit of a riff in their rekindled friendship.

The appropriate balance of action and story can be difficult to find in a movie such as this, but I found this to be another aspect that was improved upon from the 2012 original. Gwen Stacy, a very likable character, is both Peter’s support and foil, and she contributes more than just serving as a damsel in distress for Spider-Man. And the intriguing plotline of Peter learning about his father’s research, while a bit hurried, is one that I hope they continue to build upon, as Peter discovers more about Oscorp, his strongest opponent. All the while, Spider-Man must battle the many products of the organization, and the audience is left with a sense that, in the next installment, we will be a seeing our hero up against even more of the evil they churn out.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 corrects much what I felt was wrong with its predecessor – a slower introduction to a concept we all knew, with a fumbling villain – and takes it in the other direction entirely. With multiple foes for Spidey appearing one after the one, the pacing was considerably better than the first, but left this reviewer feeling as though one was simply used as a plot device to conjure up another. This theory is supported by the knowledge that installments three and four of this franchise have already been ordered.

Should we do what we love, or love what we do?

I have bounced around from job to job – even someone who only knows me through this blog can tell that. I’ve found I’m actually fairly good at getting a response to my applications, and have been offered the majority of the positions I’ve been interviewed for. But for various reasons including frequent company turnover, lack of pay or room to grow, and even my own discontentment, I’ve had close to ten different jobs since my college graduation — and people seem to see this as a bad thing.

Sean Blanda, a fellow Temple University SCT Journalism alum, recently gave a TED talk on the way that the job market has changed in the last few decades, and he touches upon this very subject. We’re changing jobs more frequently than ever in 2014, and the idea of starting at the bottom isn’t always a feasible or smart option. He mentions a good friend of mine from school, Sammy Davis, who has gone on to start her own site, Sammy D Vintage, followed by a positivity campaign called #LipstickAffirmations, which has propelled her into her latest project, SammyD.tv.

Sammy has taken her unique skill sets and created something completely original. While this in a terrifying concept for many (including myself), she recognized that she wasn’t going to get where she wanted to be by hanging onto the rungs of the corporate ladder, and followed her passions to build her own way up. In other words: If you’re unhappy, do something about it.

It doesn’t often feel that simple, and for everyone who succeeds the way Sammy has, there are many others who struggle to pursue their own projects while supporting themselves in a day-to-day job that may be completely off their desired path. My boyfriend, for example, works in high-end catering and food delivery, but he ultimately wants to be a animator. He studied film, has taken countless art classes, and spends all of his spare time working on his website, reel, and side animation projects. And every day, he applies for jobs that will hopefully help him get a foot in the door of the industry.

I think the bottom line is that there is no one right way – we all have to make money to survive, we’re all struggling to find where we belong and what we love to do. Some of us will always be unhappy at our jobs, and some will continue to find the good in every position. In order to make myself feel better, I’ve decided that I’ll take the latter approach, and find every opportunity to continue to search for my “dream job,” even if I have to create it myself.

Movie Review: Cuban Fury

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The following is my review of the new film Cuban Fury for ScreenPicks.com

In a world where British white preteens take up salsa dancing as a hobby, we meet Bruce Garrett. Bruce is obese and, for lack of a better word, kind of a loser. He rides a folding bike to his office job, and spends his nights consuming calories in front of the TV. But he manages to turn (at least some of) that around when he meets Julia.

The film focuses on Bruce relearning the Cuban steps of his childhood, after a humiliating incident caused him to turn away from the world of competitive dance. All with the goal of impressing Julia, our protagonist stubbornly confronts his old coach, convincing him to help him regain the moves and confidence he once had on the dance floor, with the help of his sister and a new friend he meets in class.

Portrayed by Nick Frost of Simon Pegg’s Cornetto Trilogy films, Bruce is a character we’ve all seen: He’s stuck in a rut, doesn’t stick up for himself, and had a traumatic experience as a child. We identify with him, because we’ve all been the underdog at one point in our lives. So of course, we want him to get the girl, no matter how unattainable it may seem.

Julia (Rashida Jones, Parks and Recreation) enters Bruce’s life as his boss. I wish I could tell you what any of them do at this company, but all I took away from the office scenes is that Bruce does some kind of designing, and gives presentations with his obnoxious coworker, Drew (Chris O’Dowd, Bridesmaids). We’ve also all likely known a Drew – a bully whose only thoughts are about when he’s getting laid next. Drew has his sights set on Julia as well, if only so that he can shag her and rub it in Bruce’s face.

As the foul comic relief, O’Dowd hits the mark about 25 percent of the time – the rest he’s either very off color, or just plain stupid. Save for an excellent scene where Bruce and Drew engage in a West Side Story style dance-off for the girl, I was only mildly entertained, but mostly just annoyed at his character. However, O’ Dowd is a funny guy in general, so I’m chalking it up to my inability to see him as a scumbag. On the other hand, Bejan (Kayvan Novak, Channel 4’s Fonejacker) – Bruce’s Middle Eastern pal with a lot of sass and a proclivity for stale Fanta – was on point in every scene.

My real hope going into this movie was that I’d get to see some fun dancing and laugh at a lot of my favorite dry, British humor. Unfortunately, I was really only satisfied with the former. I’ll watch almost any movie that features dancing, and in that department I wasn’t disappointed once, from Step Up-like club scenes to the final salsa competition. And the supporting cast, which includes Peep Show’s Olivia Colman as Bruce’s sister Sam and Ian McShane (HBO’s Deadwood) as dance coach Ron, is lively, and delivers some of the humor I desired.

So could this comedy be called a love story? To be frank, I’d prefer to say it was the tale of a man’s love for dance. I’d even call it a love story between Bruce and his coach before I say that Bruce and Julia are meant to be. Because when all is said and done, Frost and Jones have zero chemistry. I rooted for Bruce in goal, because Frost portrays a slightly pathetic, but ultimately endearing character. But not once was I convinced that he should waste his time pining over a woman who had very little substance to her. I would, however, tune in for a sequel that pits Bruce and Bejan against each other in a competition.

15 Things Babies Don’t Seem To Understand (Because, Baby Privilege)

This is my favorite thing Thought Catalog has ever posted. Perfect response to the constant “I have it worse than you” posts.

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1. Baby privilege is being able to smile in someone’s face whilst defecating in your underwear, without a hint of remorse for your actions.

2. Baby privilege is having the audacity to become enraged and cry about the fact that you messed yourself, and that no one has come help you out of the predicament YOU put yourself in.

3. Baby privilege is having your face nestled in the buxom cleavage of some young woman without being branded a sex pest by society.

4. Baby privilege is never having to prepare a meal for yourself.

5. Baby privilege is repaying your chefs hard work, by hugging them and promptly throwing up on their shoulder whilst smiling and urinating on their shirt.

6. Baby privilege is being able to run around naked in public without being tasered by a member of law enforcement.

7. Baby privilege is being pushed around…

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Things we all need to stop doing

1. The comments section. Oh geez. I know, I know, I should just stop reading it. But I’m a very curious person, and like to complete things, so the comments section just seems to creep right up. I’ll be fair: They aren’t all horrible. I often enjoy the more intelligent conversation on sites like Gawker. (Before you jump down my throat: it’s DEFINITELY not always that way. But more often than many other sites.) For the most part though, It’s just people tearing apart whatever the author said, and then someone jumping down their throat, and back and forth. And ALL OF THE TROLLS. AUGH.

2. Calling yourself a nerd in that cutesy way or “I’m a ____ nerd!” I haven’t quite pinned down the reason that this bothers me so much yet. I think it’s mostly because the people who say it are often the people who like to do what’s trendy right now; I don’t remember this being such a phenomenon before The Big Bang Theory. And to be honest, I really don’t see why we have to put labels on people (see item 4 on this list).

3. Saying, “My boyfriend/mom/boss/dog/whatever is better than yours.” No. We all love the people we’re closest to because of how they enrich our lives. Why do you need to compare? People frequently told me growing up that my mom was once of the nicest people they’ve ever met, and that’s probably true. That doesn’t make her better than your mom, and just makes her a great mom for me. You don’t need to put other people down to make yourself feel better about whatever inadequacies are bothering you.

4. Judging each other: Yes, this may seem hypocritical due to the nature of this list, but I’m just going to go ahead and find a loophole, and say that these are guidelines. I’m not judging you, but advising you of somethings you could/should stop doing, in order to not piss the living hell out of others. This pretty much sums up the other three things on this list, which is why it seems unavoidable to mention.

And again, I’m aware that someone could (if people actually read this) go into the comments section and say “Becca, this whole list is you judging people. You’re such a hypocrite, and my mom is way better than yours. OMG, I’m such a nerd.”

Well, this was a worthless post.