Social Media and Reality TV


Describe the relationship between social media and reality TV in order to inform a new business project.

Early Findings

The relationship between Reality TV and Social Media

  • Social media and reality television are definitely linked, with many reality TV shows having their own apps, and many fans discussing the shows online regularly.
  • Reality TV shows utilize social media to create a sense of community among their fans in order to drive up viewership rates.
  • Reality TV stars also utilize social media in order to build their own personal following and brand.
  • Many reality TV shows have harnessed social media for their show by "integrating fan voting, audience polling, and show topic hashtags into programming."
  • Reality TV show producers use data from social media to monitor audience reaction: "broadcasters have gained much information from social media data, including: responses to promotional campaign events, viewership behavior; social sentiment based on demographics, trends, events, and emergencies, precision viewership predictions; weekly or by season, driven by the social buzz that precedes the airing of the program, and much more."
  • Proper use of social media by reality TV shows has been shown to help dramatically increase viewership. For example, the TV show Survivor increased its viewership by nearly 3 million viewers by incorporating Twitter onto the show.
  • Reality TV show stars, like the Kardashians, can engage with audiences even when their show is off the air via social media platforms.


  • Twitter seems to be the most common and notable platform for discussion about reality TV shows.
  • Facebook is blurring the line between the social platform and reality TV by launching its own original reality TV shows on Facebook Watch.

Frequency of Discussion

  • For popular shows, the number of tweets is staggering. For example, "the X-Factor...season premiere garnered 1.4 million comments, peaking at 13.374 comments per minute.
  • Twitter conducted its own study about reality TV mentions on Twitter and found that "85% of users active on Twitter during primetime TV hours tweet about TV, and that 90% of those who saw TV-related Tweets took action to further engage with the show — whether to watch, search for, or share content about it."
  • A study by Nielsen found that "67% of TV tweets are about reality shows, compared to 58% for drama programs and 49% for comedy."

Tone of Discussion

  • Some people feel that reality TV is discussed too often on social media, or is too pervasive.

Research proposal:

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