“Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion”

Hier könnt ihr das Interview auf Deutsch lesen.

The German crime drama series Tatort (German for “crime scene”) is the most discussed TV show among Twitter users in Germany. A while ago Stefanie Assmann and Nicole Greiner started to analyse the Twitter feedback on a couple of episodes. In our interview, Stefanie explains how that happened, what it is that gets the tweeting audience excited as well as what the next step could look like.

Tell us a bit about you.
My name is Stefanie Assmann, @miss_assmann on Twitter. I’m working as a consultant at Vico Research, a German full-service agency for social media, dealing mainly with monitoring and social media. About two years ago I learned about social media monitoring for the first time while writing my Master thesis. Back then there wasn’t too much literature on that topic, which made me eventually launch a blog about it. It’s fascinating to see how users discuss brands and products. Analysing their comments always leads to interesting insights.

You have started to look closer at what Twitter users say about Tatort episodes and to publish the results on your blog. Why?
On Mondays at the office we usually discuss the latest episode of Tatort (which is always broadcasted on Sunday evenings), and we found it impressive how many people were doing the same on Twitter during the show. Nicole and I thought it might be fun to use those tweets by people watching Tatort to re-tell the story of the episode. Eventually, that led to a couple of blog posts where we evaluated the Tatort-buzz on Twitter. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to do that regularly.

Why is Tatort the single regular TV show in Germany getting that much attention on Twitter?
Good question and food for another analysis. Many of my friends usually watch Tatort on Sunday evenings. It’s quite a popular series. And as it is the case for many social media enthusiasts, they can’t stop using their smartphone, even while doing something else like watching TV. So they started to tweet about Tatort. Now that has become some kind of “tradition” on Twitter. I remember that Tatort was the first TV show that appeared in my Twitter timeline.

Which tools do you use for your analysis?
We started with the Twitter search, and we also used a tool from VICO, my employer, to create a tag cloud. Recently Twingly was so kind to provide us with a Liveboard that helps to get a quick overview about the amount and type of Tatort tweets.

Are there any typical patterns or reactions that you observe?
Since we don’t cover each Tatort episode it’s a bit hard to say. But my impression is that usually the feedback is rather varied, with both positive and negative comments. So some people love an episode while others hate it. Often, the actual plot isn’t what engages users in the online discussion. Instead it’s specific details that make people tweet. If the audience perceives a detail as unrealistic or absurd, that would usually lead to a lot of complaining on Twitter.

You think Tatort will be an exception regarding its Twitter buzz, or will other German TV shows become equally popular on Twitter?
Tatort was definitely the first show in Germany to create this kind of engagement among Twitter users. But nowadays there are other TV shows as well that get lots of tweets. I think there is a lot of potential in “social tv”, and specific web services are popping up to build on that and to connect traditional TV with the web.

Do you plan to extend your analysis to other shows?
I would love to, but I have yet to find a show which excites me enough to invest the time. A US show would be fun, since there the stations themselves already actively use social media.

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