Last night my mom was freaking out because Twitter posts were on the television screen while she was watching Fringe. At first I thought her complaints were the voice of her opposition to the conformist “twitterland” that we're all being sucked into. She isn’t a fan of the social media renaissance.
"Come out here and look at this Jessi! You have to see it!"
I tore myself away from Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Yahoo, and went into the living room. To my surprise, what I saw really was bad! One third of the TV screen was being taken up with two tweets at a time, by the Fringe people answering fans' questions.
At first it seems like a good idea: engage the audience in a conversation, celebrities answer questions live on TV, yes?
NO! Three strikes, they’re out.
First strike: The beauty of social media is that it is conversational, putting power in the consumer’s hands. It’s not one-sided messages that TV throws at us. Last night we (the viewers) couldn’t see the questions and @FringeonFox didn't answer with the question built-in. Interviewing 101 – phrase your answer with the question. Question: What’s your favorite color. Correct answer: “My favorite color is blue.” Wrong answer: “Blue." Here are some of the tweets they posted:
What a waste of space.
Strike two: Distraction. Tweets like, "Watch this!" and "This is powerful" don’t add to the plot. They actually make it impossible to watch with any kind of focus. Fringe isn't a light comedy where you don't need details. It's a metaphysical-psycho-drama that you want to pay attention to. By distracting their viewers, they have taken away from the product. If their goal was to detract value from the show and replace it with sensationalism, they might have hit their mark. Here are some tweets that went out from their audience last night:
- gregtarnoff @mkebiz seriously? I can't watch it because they are distracting. Bad move @fox @fringe #fringe
Strike three: It's contrived. Unofficial rules 1, 2, and 3 in social marketing: be genuine, be relevant, be transparent. Rule 4: listen, don’t push. Fox decided to take up 1/3 of the screen during a show that has avid and intelligent followers, to disseminate drivel. I wonder if they filmed for it. Did they actually compromise creative integrity to make space for these tweets? I hope not. Either way it was not asked for by their audience, it was “forced.” I hope Fox uses Twitter to listen, not just to masturbate in the mirror.
By the time it all ended – the hoopla and the show – my mom threw up her hands and said, "I didn't even see the show!"