Real Fans Watch

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Hope Solo. I wonder if she's related to Han.  - PJ Tatler

Turns out we weren’t the only ones who became instant Hope Solo fans. Twitter reported earlier this week that the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday set a new record, with a peak volume of 7,196 tweets sent per second. It’s unclear how many of those were actually about the match (and not about related things, like the volume of beer in the fridge), but those numbers make it clear that something interesting is happening at the intersection of live television and social media.

It wasn’t too long ago when networks and advertisers alike were worried sick about time shifting, and how the DVR would destroy the value of the 30-second spot. What a difference a few years makes. Today, producers are hustling to overlay #hashtags on top of their shows, along with calls to action to get their fans tweeting on their behalf. Wiredset, a company focused on real-time marketing through social, last month published their guide to Social TV Best Practices, with helpful guides about using Twitter to do thing like “emphasize a major plot twist.” We can only imagine the fun in writers’ rooms across Los Angeles, figuring out just how to best integrate retweetable plot points and one-liners into their scripts…and then watching their social media dashboards in real time to see how it plays on the small(er) screens, out across the network.

The sharing’s not just happening on Twitter and Facebook; apps from GetGlue and Clicker make it easy for people to “check in” to the shows they’re watching and connect with other fans…popcorn not included. It used to be the case that bloggers and forum denizens would warn their readers about plot spoilers in their reviews and recaps. But if you’re a sports fan, a sitcom fan or a reality TV fan and are anywhere near your smartphone, avoiding spoilers is nearly impossible. Today, real fans watch. In real time. With their fingers on their keyboards.

As social media makes “appointment television” a real thing again, there’s an opportunity for brands to plan transmedia campaigns that connect all the screens in the house. It’s not just enough to deliver the 30 second spot. Smart creative will connect the emotional punch that’s possible on the wall-mounted big screen, to the engagement that’s possible on the mid-sized screen in the lap, to the social sharing that’s happening on the small screen in the hand.