Thanks to social media, anyone and everyone can become content producers and contribute to the media in a way that was never possible before. Thanks to our recent transition to a more incorporated digital age, we are now more and more inclined to share our lives online through various social channels, especially through personal storytelling tools such as Snapchat or Instagram stories. In addition to this, the way viewers connect to reality TV has been changed drastically thanks to the advent and rise of social media.
Social media has also affected our relationships with reality TV. Before, we would tune in daily or weekly to watch our favourite reality TV stars on their respective TV shows. Once the programme ended, we were essentially in the dark until the next episode began. Nowadays, reality TV stars, especially those on TOWIE, Made in Chelsea, Keeping Up With The Kardashians etc. are often on social media ‘live-tweeting’ to their fans, creating a new way to experience the show. Reality TV shows themselves now, more often than not, have a myriad of social media channels that they can share exclusive news, updates and behind the scenes content on. These accounts often post updates live when the episode airs, so that their followers can interact and engage with them while they are all watching the show. This additional content boosts and generates ‘talk-ability’ and ‘share-ability’, allowing them to reach a wider audience and boost ratings. Branded hashtags allow fans to collate their thoughts and opinions in one space, encouraging cross engagements and allowing fans to connect with other fans. It has never been so easy to find mutual fans online based on similar interests such as reality TV shows.
It is no surprise that reality TV has managed to cement itself in pop culture and social media, as it is extremely popular with the millennial market. Millennials and the younger generations have lived their whole lives amongst this digital culture, and therefore it was only appropriate for reality TV to become intertwined with online channels and social media. A study by Viacom International Media Networks found that more than 70% of young viewers were interacting with other fans via a second screen while watching their favourite shows, and 60% had followed/liked a TV show via social media.
In a way we, ourselves, are slowly morphing into our own reality show. Nowadays our connection to social media is so ingrained within us that most of our lives are now shared to our followers and the public. Social media ‘stories’ have given us the ability to construct our own reality TV show comprised fully of the raw unadulterated behind the scenes action of our lives.