Tweeting & TV (including research techniques)

Having recently completed my undergrad Dissertation, it hasn’t been long since I last read about Ethnographic and Qualitative Research as I conducted both of these research techniques. Observing fans at a concert, as well as looking at specific tweets was how my ethnographic research took place.

As Marwick explains, “The sheer volume of users, tweets, and hashtags has made the site a favourite for quantitative data analysis and “big data” number-crunching.” (Marwick, A. 2013. Pg 109) Quantitative research is essentially, the collection and analysis of data.

Qualitative research usually focuses on words to try and understand individuals’. Interviews are qualitative and can “provide a rich source of data that allow us to go beyond description.” (Marwick, A. 2013. Pg 110) It is great for researchers as it can reveal social norms, although, generalisations made from one hashtag/meme might not apply to another, so can sometimes only provide a small portion of the picture.

Twitter probably isn’t the best place to conduct qualitative research due to the 140 character limit and not being able to rely on all Twitter users replying to someone they don’t know. But, on the plus side, it’s free, quick, easy and can reach millions of people worldwide.

The issue that the researcher came across when trying to understand how teenagers use Twitter was that she waited too long after collecting the data to talk to them. (most teenagers change their usernames waaaay to often) It’s always best to act on events or particular hashtags straight away whilst the topic is still trending.

I am an advocate for Ethnographic research! “Digital, or virtual, ethnography refers to the practice of observing and/or participating in a particular online group or community over a period of time.” (Hine, 2000: Miller & Slater 2000) I think it works so well because you can see people in their own environment so they will act as they would due to not knowing that they are being observed. I came away with great results from my last Ethnographic study so would definitely use the method again.

Using TAGS is a good way to follow a specific hashtag or phrase as it scrapes Twitter for the topic you put in….Plus, it can update every hour, bonus! (I’ll talk about this in more detail in my next post)

Part 2 of the reading was about tweeting during TV programmes. From my own personal experience, if I miss an episode of the Bake off or the X Factor, I can’t go on Twitter until I’ve watched it. This is because, “the majority of weekly program tweets are sent during live airings.” (Marketing Land Infographics. 2014)


Twitter enables a ‘mass conversation’ between fans of TV shows by using the same hashtag. Twitter allows users to connect with others and engage in a live communal discussion. Some people might say that Social Media is a second screen during TV…I couldn’t agree more.

Something I do like about TV is that it has the opportunity to bring people together. When Wales were in the semi-finals of the Euro’s this year, the whole of Wales (slightly exaggerated) all came together at the Millennium Stadium to watch the game. It was promoted on Twitter by hardcore fans and the hashtag was still being used days later. Hardcore fans are known for helping the marketing of TV shows. They use Twitter to “maintain an active and on-going fan community for that television show.” (Harrington, S. 2014. Pg 243)

I found a really interesting article written by Marketing Land Infographics. They discussed how Twitter users love TV and that they love to share socially because “they believe themselves to be influences that others seek out for opinions about television shows.” (Marketing Land Infographics. 2014) The photo below shows that Twitter users are very heavy TV users! I found this a very interesting concept.


I really enjoyed this weeks reading as I feel it is a topic I am interested in and is one that I take part in myself!

  • Mahrt, M. and Puschmann, C. (2013) Twitter and society. Edited by Katrin Weller, Axel Bruns, and Jean Burgess. New York, NY: Peter Lang Publishing.

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