The current exchange of words and tweets taking place between BBC bosses and The Voice UK judge Will.i.am raises an interesting question about the use of social media by celebrities and broadcasters to promote live shows.
Apparently the Beeb is unhappy with him tweeting during the live shows because to the viewers watching it comes across as if he is disinterested in the performances. Whereas in fact, if you follow him on Twitter it couldn’t be further from the truth. His tweets are focusing on commenting on the acts and his ‘real time’ thoughts and emotions.
But it raises an interesting issue. The immediacy of social media requires ‘in the moment’ updates of platforms, but for live TV broadcasting it clearly creates a real problem with viewer engagement and perception.
I’m more than sure that the BBC wants Will.i.am to be tweeting about his role on The Voice UK to his more than 2 . 8m followers on Twitter – afterall, it’s the flagship Saturday night programme, it has pulled in more viewers than most other BBC shows for decades and has cost a fortune.
But if you’re not one of his followers, one of the 160,000 people following @BBCTheVoiceUK or the countless people using #TheVoiceUK to comment on the show via Twitter, you’re clearly not aware of what’s going on and could be forgiven for thinking he’s texting or organising a night out!
Or, with my cynical hat on, is it an elaborate PR stunt, a fake exchange of words to promote the show? It’s hardly a new ploy – I refer you to X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and countless other TV shows which have used fake rivalry and arguments to drum up interest.
If I was advising the BBC I’d tell them to let him get on with it. He’s clearly passionate about the show, keen to promote his involvement and creating a real buzz around it. He’s using the social media channel effectively, plus there’s no sign of him stopping!