Twitter takes TV social

27 October 2011

NEW YORK: Twitter, the microblog, has formed a tie-up with The X Factor, the entertainment talent show, in a move argued to represent the increasing integration between social media and television.

The social media service has announced its users will be able to vote for contestants in The X Factor from its pages by sending direct messages to a dedicated account for much-anticipated series.

Elsewhere, Twitter has set up a microsite for The X Factor which will feature comments from the judges, host and competitors. Real-time Twitter data is also going to be shown on air during TV broadcasts.

Chloe Sladden, Twitter's director, content and programming, suggested such a process enhances an already-existing trend. "Fans flock to Twitter during live television events and have been voicing their opinions with tweets for years," she said.

"[We are moving from] focusing just on engagement to getting into the creative fabric of shows and letting the audience help change the outcomes."

Verizon Wireless has also developed a mobile app allowing subscribers to post tweets while they watch, as well as offering a range of additional voting tools, as part of a wider digital experience.

David Luner, EVP, consumer products and interactive at FremantleMedia, which worked on The X Factor, predicted the alliance with Twitter should yield specific advantages for the programme.

"This first-of-its-kind partnership between Twitter and The X Factor ... will elevate the social conversation around the show, fostering a deeper, personal connection with the brand," he said.

Equally, Dick Costolo, Twitter's CEO, asserted affiliations like that with The X Factor "are going to result in financial benefits down the road" for the social network.

"Benefits will accrue to us [as a result of] engaging with these other media platforms and providing benefits to them," he said.

Simon Cowell, a judge on The X Factor, also told the New York Times that the Twitter audience would be like "millions of producers", and stated that social media now has a crucial role for broadcasters.

"The only powerful people now on TV are the people on Twitter and Facebook," he said.

Data sourced from Twitter, New York Times, Digital Spy; additional content by Warc staff