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The Convergence of Social Media and Entertainment

People use their smartphones nearly an hour a day, Experian Marketing reports, and the entertainment industry is latching on to that power. From spreading the word about a new show, to getting feedback, sites such as Twitter, Facebook and GetGlue are changing the way the world interacts with and shares its entertainment experiences.

Popular on Facebook

Netflix’s new “Popular on Facebook” feature displays the top shows and movies your friends are posting about on Facebook. Otherwise, the section simply pulls in the most popular content in general. The integration can also let your friends know exactly what movies and TV episodes you’ve seen so far, which should go a long way to cut down on potential spoiler chatter. There’s also the ability to let your friends know exactly what you just watched on Netflix, which you can of course comment on, too.

Synthesio recently broke down some recent (and hugely successful) social media/entertainment crossovers, including Google+ hangouts with fans to promote “The Muppets,” the ability to rent previous “Harry Potter” films directly from Facebook to promote the final film in the series, and “The Walking Dead” social zombie-blasting game on Facebook, which has players working together and competing against one another to bag the most undead monsters within a world based on the hit AMC show.

A whole new game

In the recently released “The Last of Us,” players can choose to have their Facebook account tied to the game, pulling in the names of their actual friends to take the place of randomly created characters within the game’s online mode.

Thanks to Twitter and Facebook integration, players can also have their latest achievements display on their social media sites of choice. This serves the dual purpose of letting one person brag about their virtual accomplishments, while simultaneously advertising to the world people are playing and enjoying the game.

It’s the same principal applied to sites such as GetGlue, which lets everyone know which television shows you are watching and how many other people are watching right alongside you. Even online shopping sites have social media ties. Consumers can now Tweet or post their latest purchases directly from the virtual check-out line, once again serving as free advertisements for the product and the online retailer at the same time.

Social media’s hidden potential

The Hollywood Reporter surveyed 750 social network users about how they utilize their favorite forms of social media. Surprisingly, 88 percent said they consider sites such as Twitter and Facebook good supplements for traditional entertainment. In other words, rather than popping in a movie, or perusing random websites, these people simply tune into their social media source of choice, and start reading through Tweets and status updates.

Those polled also said that they dedicate an average of eight hours a week to social media sites, tied with “listening to music” at the top of the chart and besting activities such as watching TV, movies or video clips, or instant messaging. Properly utilizing social media could be the best way to interact with and reach out to a current and/or potential group of customers. The modern tech-savvy Internet hound spends a lot of time online wading through an ocean of social media.

To see how big the impact social media is in the world of entertainment, one need look no further than NBC’s hit comedy, “Community.” The show, available on providers such as, is successful in large part due to the role social media has played in the it’s history. When shaky ratings put the show on a temporary (and potentially permanent) hiatus, loyal fans began a social media campaign on sites such as Twitter, Reddit, Facebook, and Tumblr in order to build enthusiasm and, more importantly, let NBC know that more people than they realized were watching and talking about the show. As a result, “Community” was successfully brought back to the airwaves and is now in production for a fourth season.

Why social media works

It’s clear that social media is a well-oiled marketing machine, perfect for letting folks know about a new movie that’s coming out, finding out what people liked or didn’t like about a show, or simply creating buzz for a product that could use a little extra backing.

Why does social media work so well? The average person spends a lot of time online, but the need for interaction remains a big part of human nature. People still want to be heard as they share their opinions, talk about what they had for lunch, or complain about a movie’s ending.

Social media gives everyone a global podium from which to be heard. When you Tweet something or like a movie on Netflix, the entire world is your audience. That sort of large-scale interaction has an addictive nature, too. Who doesn’t want to have 150 strangers Retweet their opinion of “Pacific Rim?” And so people Tweet more, like more, and keep that social media train rolling. That kind of free publicity can be a powerful tool, one that will only become more useful as the worlds of entertainment and social media continue to merge.

Author bio: Ryan Winslett is an Arizona-based journalist and freelance writer. He is a contributing writer for Gaming Blend and a columnist for Bit Creature. His work has also appeared on Joystiq, Gamasutra and Joystick Division. His only crime is loving too much.

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