What is more powerful: Tumblr or the producers

With the rise of social media platforms like Tumblr, audiences aren’t satisfied by just reading the books or just watching an episode every week anymore. The audience is searching for deeper stories and the creators of this content need to be able to transform their work into media that can converge into multiple platforms. Social media platforms like Tumblr, have given fans authority over their shows like never before. They have the ability to build up or tear down the reputation of content with one simple post. The producers are more aware of the bloggers powers ever day, and are increasing beginning to accommodate for that. Social media platforms have transformed how the content media industry functions and how the audience participates with the content. Tumblr has been described by Mansfield (2012) as ‘part blogging platform part social networking community, and part social media dashboard’ Launched in 2007 it gained astronomical traction. A month on Tumblr sees 507 million visits with 13 billion page views. When compared with websites like wordpress.com, which experiences roughly ten million more users than Tumblr, Tumblr has 70 million more views than WordPress

Tumblr has become a platform for the fans, across multiple genres. What Tumblr offers its users is the ability to participate the creation of artifacts for the media content. The audience does not want to be restricted by when they can access their content for example only when a show airs every week.  As Jenkin (2006) describes “desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they wantAs a result it has created produsage users in which they have begun to create their own content and share it among other users, creating a online universe of their favourite content. Booth (2010) expresses ‘fan created fan fiction allows other fans to reread the show in a new way. Rereading is a critical aspect of the fan’s online interaction with a media object’ Tumblr has often been described as the ‘fangirl site’ in which fans of different content are very dedicated in making GIFS, fan fiction, editing photos of the content and discussing spoilers about new content. These fans create their own tumblr communities based on their content.

More and more fans have begun to use social media sites and blogging platform to take control of their favourite content, particularly among television fans. At the end of 2011, NBC cancelled the television show Community from returning in 2012. Through sites like Tumblr and twitter, the fans organised a protest outside NBC’S Rockafella Center, demanding that it be renewed for another season

Then, in arguably the most useful protest of the Occupy movement so far, a group of nefariously bearded Community fans from the dark timeline decided to flash mob NBC and express their disgruntlement – Trumbore (2011)

Eventually NBC responded to the protest and Community was at first renewed for just half a season. Fans have always had the power considering that they are the ratings, but know they have platforms in which they can be heard.  Firefly is well-known for having a very dedicated following, what could of have happened if Tumblr and even twitter was around when Firefly was cancelled. Perhaps a different outcome could have arose ten years ago, that instead of being cancelled the fans could have rallied for more seasons and they would have been heard. Platforms like Tumblr are reshaping the relationship between the consumer and the producer as it is giving the consumer a place to be heard.

Media corporations are starting to adapt to the changing relationship between the audience and the creators. Tumblr is being used frequently by the fans of the TV shows to critique of the most recent episodes and discuss up coming episodes. Media Corporations realise the power “loyal” fans have in the value of a show and are increasingly starting to target these fans.

Loyals are fans, and although they may be in the minority of viewers, “advertisers are increasingly realizing that they be better investing their dollars behind a show that have high favourability rather than shows that have high ratings” [24]. Indeed loyals tend to purchase more products, percentage wise, than do other types of media audience. When these producers court fans and fan communities, the resulting increase in critical praise and profits can also help the media company’ – Booth (2010)

Minutes after an episode has aired in the USA, the fans are already making GIFS from their favourite moments of that episode and sharing them on Tumblr. As a result fans in UK, Australia and all round the world are able to access the episodes by watching GIFS quicker than ever before; They are able to access new content, whenever they want and in new formats.  A new TV show Oxygen has teamed up with Tumblr to infuse their TV show with GIFS made by the fans. Traditionally, GIFS were made by the fans to recap and pray tribute to their favourite part of the episodes, but Oxygen has designed its programme so that each week the fans GIFS will be part of the episode. This interaction between the producers and the consumers has never been this direct in that the fans can have an active part in the creation of their shows content.

Recent research about the use of secondary screen use whilst watching television by Neuro insight, MCA Australia and the Seven Television Network has produced interesting results. Their results found that using social media at the same time as watching television programmes increased programme engagement with the audience by 9%. Four times during a programme, the average audience will interact with social media about the programme which has resulted in details being encoded into the audiences memory. This means that the audience are more likely to remember specific elements from the telelvision programmes. Fans then use the social media sites like Tumblr to discuss and reflect on these moments. This affects how producers take on their shows, recently television shows have started to provide their social media accounts information at the bottom of the screen. Producers are investing a lot more effort to encourage their audiences to participate on social media sites like Tumblr because they have discovered the benefits of using platforms like Tumblr and Twitter in conjunction with their content.

Everyday Tumblr is setting more and more trends on the internet ‘What takes off on Tumblr these days often breaks through as viral phenomena on the internet at large…Tumblr is unstoppable’ – Dumenco (2013). Look at what happened with youtube user Mcharris222, he created his own video ‘A Disney sing-along sequel’ and put it onto Youtube in March 2012. The video went viral when the video was shared on Tumblr. So much so that mcharris222 created another video, ‘Thank you Tumblr ;)’ in April 2012 thanking the users on Tumblr for creating so many views. This is not surprising when you look at the amount of traffic Tumblr has been getting daily resulting in ‘Tumblr’ being a bigger Google search than ‘Blog’ In November 2012, as Tumblr is one of the ten most visited sites in the world, the online presence

Tumblr has reshaped the way in which content flows between the producer and the consumer. It has given its users a platform to become Produsers, sharing their content with other users, creating their own universe of Transmedia storytelling.

References

  1. Mansfield, H. 2012, Social media for social good: a how-to guide for nonprofits, McGraw-Hill, New York.
  2. Booth, P (2013). Digital Fandom; New media studies. New York: Peter Lang Publishing Inc. 10-20.
  3. Trumbore, D. 2011, Community Flash Mob Occupies NBC Rockefella Centre, collider.com, accessed 23/4/2013, http://collider.com/community-flash-mob
  4. Hernandez, B A. (2013). Oxygen teams up with Tumblr to infuse TV Shows With GIFS, mashble.com, accessed 2/6/2013, http://mashable.com/2013/04/23/oxygen-tumblr-gifs-best-ink-2/.
  5. Miller, S. (2013). Social Media drives increase in TV programme engagement say studies, Research-live.com, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.research-live.com/news/news-headlines/social-media-drives-increase-in-tv-programme-engagement-says-study/4009516.article
  6. Dumenco, S. 2013, ‘It’s a Crying Shame Tumblr Hasn’t Quite Figured Out Its Revenue Problem Yet’, Ad age, accessed 26/4/2013, http://adage.com/article/the-media-guy/tumblr-s-revenue-problem-a-crying-shame/240806/
  7. Alfonso III, F. (2013). ‘Tumblr’ Now More Popular Google Search than ‘Blog’, Daily Dot, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.dailydot.com/news/tumblr-blog-google-search-rankings/
  8. Mcharris222 (2012) ‘A Disney sing-along sequel’, Accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0v-V2_g4rI
  9. Mcharris222 (2012)‘Thank you Tumblr ;)’, accessed 2/6/2013, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I-z1ccHns8
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Shipping it publicly

Before you hit me with your keyboards, give me a chance to explain. I’m over twilight as much as the next person BUT it is a really good case for the public sphere and how something can cause so much debate. Firstly, the public sphere is where people can openly discus issues and ideas. The Internet has become the most popular place for these discussions of increasing variety; Politics to technology, movies to health concerns.

Look at the debates on the Internet about twilight. As soon as those books were released Fandoms were screaming out for team Edward and team Jacob. Yeah great no one really cares about that but there still was a lot of debate caused over it. As any good shipper worth their keys, they began to write fan fictions (Shipper: the term “shipper” comes from supporting a ship. To ship something means a person wants two characters to get together and/or shows support for two characters already together – Urban Dictionary) One writer in particular gained massive popularity for her twilight inspired fan fics, so much so that they were made into our beloved 50 shades of grey.

50 Shades of Grey changed the landscape of the literary world, being placed at #1 for 50 weeks straight on some best-seller lists. What has been the impact on the public sphere due to the books popularity? Fans trying to recreate scenes from 50 shades of grey, have in many cases had very damaging effects on their relationships:

British woman is divorcing her husband after he refused to re-create scenes from E.J. James’ best-selling novel…”The woman had been reading the book and wanted to spice up her love life,” the wife’s attorney, Amanda McAlister, said. “She thought their sex life had hit a rut — he never remembered Valentine’s Day and he never complimented her on her appearance. So she bought sexy underwear in an attempt to get her husband more involved. She said, ‘Let’s make things more interesting.” [1]

If you were to Google 50 shades of grey how many results would you get? When I googled it 83,700,000 results were found! Articles like:

What does the popularity of 50 Shades of Grey Say about our Sexuality

Why women Really like “50 Shades of Grey”

Explaining ’50 Shades’ wild success – CNN.com

50 Shades of Grey is best-selling book of all time – Telegraph

50 things I hate about 50 Shades of grey

And its about to be reintroduced to the public sphere in even more formats: a movie, soundtrack, television show, even a musical have all been suggested if not already in production. And just think all of this was started because Twilight was introduced to the public sphere.