Social Media and Reality TV

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Social Media and Reality TV - Overview

Today, digital processes have become the norm for reality shows, anyone who wants to audition for an unscripted TV program can do so online. With all of that engagement on social media, reality TV shows have the opportunity to capitalize on this second screen experience.

Relationship between social media and reality TV :

  • According to an article by Emily Jashinsky, social media can help us separate the good casting decision from the bad one.
  • This is a worthwhile point because there’s a fair argument that social media has become a scourge on the reality television industry, clogging our feeds with detox tea advertisements, strained feuds, and potential spoilers.
  • But from the right reality star, even those potential obstacles can be hilarious. (Good reality stars can be caught up in bad casts, and vice versa.)
  • Instagram has provided a means for contestants on the Bachelor and other reality shows to translate their exposure from the show into a social media footprint and lasting exposure.
  • Today, digital processes have become the norm for reality shows, anyone who wants to audition for an unscripted TV program can do so online.
  • It can be as simple as posting a YouTube video.
  • Over the past few years, the rise of social media in particular has completely altered the nature of the job in ways both good and bad.
  • Robyn Kass one of the most respected reality casting agents has a team active through Instagram around the clock for people who pique their curiosity.
  • More conversation on social media indicates more engaged viewers, and reality TV is seeing the most engagement.
  • Nielsen reports that 67% of TV tweets are about reality shows, compared to 58% for drama programs, and 49% for comedy.
  • Live TV sees twice as much conversation as prerecorded broadcasts, with 72% people tweeting when the show is airing as it happens.
  • With all of that engagement on social media, reality TV shows have the opportunity to capitalize on this second screen experience.
  • This is both during the show and in between episodes or even seasons.

Other helpful findings:

  • In the U.S., 86% (118/137) of Instagram posts related to reality TV were positive and 14% of posts were negative.
  • The U.S.A. holds the top spot (at 18.5%) when it comes to mention of reality TV on social media.
  • Globally, on social media, 48.2% of the posts on reality TV were positive, 40.7% were neutral, and 11.1% were negative.
  • Globally, Twitter (with 630) had the most mentions, followed by other well-known platforms like Facebook (with 156), Instagram (with 13), and YouTube (with 51).

Research Strategy:

What and why was the info not available?

Data to provide an in-depth analysis of whether reality TV is a popular topic of discussion on social media and if there are any particular sub segments of reality TV or moments that spark the most conversation, is not available.
It is likely that the availability of various metrics to analyze the requirement is limited. The info available is limited to the positive and negative mentions only. Global info also cites mention statistics only but nothing on the popularity.

What info was found?

Info on the relationship between social media and reality TV was found.


Strategy #1

We started working on the request by first looking into well-known social media trackers like social searcher, appbrand, awario, and social mention, where we were hoping to find much more than just the mention statistics. Working through these portals we looked for potential metrics that could be used to define popularity for example, the viewership of U.S. citizens bifurcated to regular, non regular, and twice a week for segment Reality TV and thoughts related to following sub segments for example like, dislike, neutral, and doesn't matter. If found we could have used these to answer the popularity criteria. Upon scanning through these portals the best we found were U.S.A. Instagram mention statistics of "Reality TV" bifurcated to positive and negative, and cited data globally. Hence, we could not use this data to directly ans the first criteria of popularity.

Strategy #2

We then looked for market research reports with a hope to find relevant statistics mentioned as a free sample in reports related to reality TV and social media. We also looked for articles that could include this particular information. We did this as sometimes pay walled reports also offer free info as a part of sample which can be used to find further info. We also checked basic articles since such info may sometimes be widely available via topic specific articles. Checking through reports from Neilson, Digital commerce, and hootsuite, and articles from masahble, paceo, and variety were unable to find any relevant info that can be used to answer the popularity of the topic, however, this strategy helped us to find relevant information which we were able to use to determine the relationship between social media and reality TV.

Strategy #3

We then looked for possible case studies and news articles with a hope of finding those that have findings related to the popularity of reality TV as a topic of discussion on social media. We were looking for case studies and articles that cite social media platforms most used to share the topic with a positive intention. Or case studies and news articles on how a social media platform helped a reality TV in the U.S. promote the show just via social sharing. Looking through well-known portals like omicsonline, researchgate, academia, tandofline, usnews, huffpost, and washingtonpost, we were unable to cite any such case studies or media articles that could be used to answer the popularity of the topic. One such case study is included which cites the perceptions of reality television as portrayed through social media.
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Social Media and Reality TV - Platforms

Social media platforms, specifically Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, have facilitated the growth and expansion of the market for reality TV. All platforms witness increased discussions regarding reality TV with some such as Facebook creating their own reality TV. A report regarding Twitter showed that most viewers go online and on social media platforms to acquire more information concerning reality shows. Additional data on the same is compiled below, including statistics on the frequency and tone of those discussions.


  • Social media has transformed reality TV into a new age. These days, there are spoilers everywhere, with TV channels showing snippets of the shows on their Facebook and Instagram feeds. This is a simple and effective method which ensures that the viewers tune in to see the rest of the episodes.
  • Most shows have their own apps which allow the viewers to vote for winners and even participate with the competitors. An example is The Voice, which has an official app. Through this app, the viewers get to vote and decide who should be evicted.
  • Reality TV aims to create a community which makes viewers feel involved in the programs, and social media makes this possible.
  • Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have increased the market for reality TV. Going through the feeds, there are live streams, GIFS from the best bits in the shows, and memes made out of scenes.
  • There are numerous ways for the fans to associate with contestants on Facebook and Twitter such as hashtags designed for specific shows. For a show like Love Island U.S.A., it is common for related hashtags to trend on Twitter every night when it is airing.
  • With a show like America's Got Talent, it is impossible to go through Facebook feeds and not see a clip of a performance.
  • The consistency of these appearances makes the viewers feel like part of the show. The mixture of reality TV and social media creates a talking point.
  • After logging on to Twitter and searching for a reality show, the conversations make one feel like the stars themselves.
  • Reality competition shows such as Survivor and America's Got Talent have taken advantage of the advancements in social media by introducing fan voting and show hashtags into their programming.


  • According to Twitter, 76% of reality show viewers seek additional content by engaging on social media and online.
  • More conversations on social media are an indication of increased engagement of viewers and reality TV exhibits the most engagement.
  • Nielsen Holdings reports that 67% of tweets about TV shows are about reality shows.
  • For popular TV shows, the number of tweets is high. For example, the X-Factor premiere had 1.4 comments with 13.374 comments per minute.
  • A study by Twitter reveals that 85% of users who are active during the prime time TV hours tweet about the shows they watch and 90% of those who see tweets related to TV shows make it a point to engage further with the shows.
  • Twitter is currently viewed as the most popular social media platform when comparing audience participation.
  • Facebook is connecting reality TV and social media by launching its reality TV shows on a feature called Facebook Watch.
  • Short-lived content is created on platforms like Instagram. Fans expect good contents that is only showed momentarily.
  • Instagram's integration into reality TV can be evidenced through the way almost everyone affiliated with the reality shows such as Dancing with the Stars has an account and is an active user. This allows the followers to see the behind-the-scenes snippets of the show as they wait for the actual airing.

  • The tone of discussions of reality TV across different social media platforms can be said to be extreme because at times, they take up a huge part of the conversations. Reality shows have been known to trend on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. This can be a bit too much even for the viewers themselves.
  • Some people feel that the discussions are too prevalent. However, with the increase in membership of social media platforms, the discussions are expected to keep increasing and engaging more users.

From Part 02
  • "Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have boosted this craving for reality TV."
  • "With all of that engagement on social and online, reality TV shows have the opportunity to capitalize on this second-screen experience, both during the show and in between episodes—or even seasons. "
  • "In fact, according to a report by Twitter, 38% of people are streaming episodes online, 76% are searching for more information online, and many seek additional content by engaging online and on social media."
  • "Reality competition shows, such as Dancing with the Stars, The Amazing Race, and Survivor, have taken advantage of the new social media capabilities by integrating fan voting, audience polling, and show topic hashtags into programming. "
  • "Earlier this summer, it was announced that the social-network-turned-all-consuming-corporation would be funding a slate of original episodic content – documentary series, reality shows, and scripted programs – that would be hosted on the website’s new Watch feature, which appears to the left of the newsfeed, just below the Messenger tab. "
  • "Get the show’s talent and production team involved in crafting communication that can be consumed in 10-second increments or syndicated week-over-week as a show is ramping up to premiere."
  • "Perhaps the most impressive use of convergence by Dancing with the Stars is the seamless way they have integrated Instagram into the show. "
  • "Thanks to social media and the impact it’s having on how we define and consume entertainment, the famously wrong prognostications of Zanuck and Warner are sure to have some company."