On August 25 at 10:50PM Rolling Stone Video published an online story with the headline ‘Miley Cyrus ‘Can’t Stop’ Twerking at VMAs 2013, Twitter Reacts’. Even before Miley Cyrus appeared at the MTV MVA awards where she exhibited her much tweeted twerking skills, her fans had been tweeting about her bold new hairstyle, (photos taken at the hair salon had been posted to twitter from Miley’s cell phone). Today’s fans are interactive and opinionated. Fans express their likes or dislikes via Twitter, Facebook or one of the burgeoning social networking sites and when something is receiving a lot of interest, such as Miley Cyrus’ performance, where she twerked on Robin Thicke’s crotch, it is said to be trending. This has become a very powerful and influential means of celebrity self promotion (encouraged by entertainment networks) as well as being an immediate measure of someone’s or something’s popularity.
Audiences and fans can express their dislike for a celebrities’ performance or mode of dress in real time. Singer/celebrity J Lo found herself under ‘Twitter attack’ during her performance on Britain’s Got Talent with viewers expressing themselves freely via the social network medium. Fi Calder tweeted: ‘#BGT does #jennifer lopez realise its a family show – only thing missing was the pole – cover up your cheeks please!’ and another ‘@JLo Totally inappropriate. Put some clothes on and keep your bits to yourself. This is supposed to be a family show.#BGT.’
Twitter is becoming a valuable resource partly due to its accessibilty, i.e. anyone who has a mobile phone has access to tweeting power and if they are regular tweeters, they will have an already established audience or followers, each of whom have their own network of followers. Other factors include network coverage and immediacy. It is not surprising that Television networks are beginning to use these ‘audience networks’ to measure audience response. In The Huffington Post’s online blog titled ‘Tweeting TV: How Twitter Has Changed The Business Of Television’ TV critic Maggie Furlong writes:
While metrics on the most popular shows on Twitter aren’t measured with an exact science just yet, it’s only a matter of time. The fact that every network now has a social media division says that TV executives realize the power of fan reactions, live conversations and making shows tweet-worthy.
Another way of expressing this digital phenomena is ‘spreadability’. The authors of the white paper If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead: Creating Value in a Spreadable Marketplace state:
Consumers do not simply consume; they recommend content they like to their friends who recommend it to their friends who recommend it on down the line.They do not simply “buy” cultural goods; they “buy into ”a cultural economy which respects and rewards
their participation. Nothing spreads widely in the new digital economy unless it engages and serves the interests of both consumers
At the end of the day, what it all means is that you had better consider your audience because if they don’t like what they see, things can get pretty ugly!
Convergence Culture Consortium, 2008, If It Doesn’t Spread, It’s Dead: Creating Value in a Spreadable Marketplace, Retrieved: September 06, 2013, from http://convergenceculture.org/research/Spreadability-doublesidedprint-final-063009.pdf
Furlong, M. 2012, ‘Tweeting TV: How Twitter Has Changed The Business Of Television, [Weblog Post], May 18, Retrieved: September 08, 2013, from http://huffingtonpost.com/maggie-furlong/to-networks-ontwitter_b_1525489.html
Sheffield, R. 2013, ‘It’s Miley, Bitch: The Tongue That Licked the World’, Rolling Stone Culture [Weblog Post] August 26, Retrieved: September 08, 2013, from http://rollingstone.com’culture/blogs/pop-life/its-miley-bitch-the-tongue-that-licked-the-world-20130826