Instant Reactions: Twitter creates a buzz like no other social media site I’ve ever seen. Because everything is running at the speedy pace of only 140 characters per tweet, people are able to send flash reviews of something as soon as they see it. If there’s buzz surrounding a film or TV show, it’s fast, plastered all over the site, and nearly impossible to miss. The easiest way to find new hits is just to keep your eyes open on your timeline. Odds are that if you’ve missed something good, everyone else will be quick to tell you about it.
Spoilers: With live tweets and instant reactions comes the possibility of spoilers. Ah, yes. I’ve talked about this before in similar articles, but unfortunately, when you’re talking about social media’s affect on film and television, spoilers have to be talked about. They pretty much only exist because of social media. Here’s what I said regarding spoilers in my previous article about how social media has changed TV and movie consumption. If you like this article, that’s one you should probably check out too.
“Spoilers, as the name implies, spoil things, and they adore social media. Of course they do. Because before social media, spoilers weren’t really a thing. Spoilers amounted to going to work and listening to your annoying coworker, Bill, ramble about a movie he saw over the weekend and give everything away before you could shut him up. Now, you need only log on to any account to have a show or movie ruined. While this spoiler plague is legitimately annoying, I don’t want to spend much time talking about it. Because, thankfully, there is a very simple cure for spoilers… Just don’t get on social media if you haven’t seen something. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. And even more importantly, don’t go online the night that something airs if you haven’t watched it yet. Geez, it’s just so simple. Use your brains, people. That’s all I have to say about that.”
Now, I do still agree with what I said in that article, but I think there’s a slightly different conversation to be had about spoilers in this particular article. Because if we’re talking about how social media helps fans find new hits, spoilers can be both very, very negative and kind of positive. They can lead viewers to new hits and dissuade them from watching.
The Negative: I’m listing this first, because I think spoilers tend to hurt more than they help. It’s painfully easy to see spoilers on Twitter. There’s really no way to avoid them, especially if they’re regarding a show you don’t watch or a movie you haven’t seen yet. Sure, you can take the normal precautions of avoiding social media on the night something airs, but if you don’t watch a show yet, you probably don’t even know when it airs. And when it comes to movies, books, etc., there’s no way at all to avoid major spoilers online. In my experience, I often feel like there’s no point in watching something if I know most of the major plot points or how it ends. For example, one of my friends told me how “Divergent,” the book series, ends. She didn’t spoil me on Twitter, but the thought process is the same nonetheless. Because I know how the entire series ends, I feel no need to watch the films. And because I don’t think I like the ending, I’m even avoiding the movie. If I didn’t know how the series ended, I would probably see the movie. In cases like this, spoilers can push people away from hits, rather than closer to them.
The Positive: But I suppose spoilers can also push people to watch new shows and movies as well. For example, I know tons of people who started watching “Game of Thrones” because of the buzz surrounding the Red Wedding. Sure, they knew who died, but that didn’t stop them from checking out a new show. In that regard, spoilers can actually help push fans to hits. In some cases, it really is true that all publicity is good publicity, even if it comes in the form of a spoiler on Twitter.
Instant Reviews: Along with general reactions and spoilers, Twitter also provides an outlet for quick, easy-to-digest reviews. Because Twitter only allows those 140 characters, there’s no choice but to be concise in tweets about television and movies. After seeing a film, the first thing I do is take a moment to compose my thoughts, and then reach for my phone so that I can tweet and share those thoughts with the world. These tweets are always some of my most popular. Mostly, my tweets featuring mini movie reviews are heavily favorited. I can’t be sure, but my theory is that people trust these instant reviews and, to some extent, rely on them when choosing what they want to watch next. I know that I do that with some of the people I follow.
Trusted Opinions: Part of the joy of Twitter is finding these people whose reviews and opinions you can consistently trust. Twitter is unique because it allows you to really know what another person enjoys. After following someone for a decent amount of time, it becomes relatively easy to see if that person’s taste lines up with your own. After I tweet my thoughts about a film or TV show, my followers usually have pretty predicable reactions. If my opinion about said show or movie is positive, many followers express that they’ll have to see whatever it is that I’m talking about. If my opinion is negative, they say that they’ll skip it. This isn’t rare. And I think it happens because my followers know my taste, so they trust my opinions. I do this constantly with my own trusted accounts that I look to on Twitter. When it comes to some accounts (like Stephen King’s), I will see anything that the person recommends. I just trust some people’s opinions that much.
How to Find People You Trust: Finding people with opinions and tastes that line up with your own is probably the hardest part of this process, but fortunately, even it’s not very difficult. Here are some simple tips for finding the trusted critic who is right for you
- Look for what you know. – If you already know a trusted critic who writes for a print publication, search for him or her on Twitter. Odds are that person is already online and is tweeting out recommendations and reviews much like the ones he or she normally writes.
- Utilize the search bar. – Twitter’s search function works quite well when it comes to searching for hashtagged keywords. If there’s a specific show or film you really love, type it into the search bar. See what people are saying. Top tweets will show up at the top of your search, so it’ll be easy to see who is the most credible and knowledgeable.
- Find friends of your friends. – Once you’ve found some accounts that you trust, see what accounts those people are interacting with. I’m speaking from personal experience here. Most critics are friends with other critics, and often, many of those critic friends have similar taste in film and television.
- Be open. – This one is big for enjoying Twitter on any level. Be open to other opinions. Just because someone hates your favorite film, doesn’t mean that person should be someone you distrust. Hear everyone out. (Except for obvious trolls. Don’t waste your time with that nonsense.)
My Trusted Critics: If you’re having trouble finding accounts with opinions that you trust, I’ll help you out with a list of a few of my own. These are the people who I completely trust when they say that something’s worth watching. I’ve found these accounts by using the exact tips that I’ve given in the list above.
- Stephen King (@StephenKing) – Of course I trust Stephen King. I would read, watch, or listen to anything he told me to check out. He has credibility for obvious reasons (his immense talent as a novelist), but he’s also proven to have quite the eye for criticism. He’s written for a number of publications from a critical standpoint. Put simply: He has awesome taste.
- Joe Hill (@Joe_Hill) – Sure, he’s Stephen King’s son, but that’s not why I trust him. (Ok, it’s a little bit of why I trust him.) Genuinely though, Joe Hill is a fantastic writer in his own right, so he’s got credibility there, and he also watches and talks about a ton of TV on Twitter. The man knows what he’s talking about.
- Todd VanDerWerff (@tvoti) – Ah, the first professional critic to grace the list. Don’t worry; there are more to come. Todd is a TV writer for slews of publications and he’s one of the hardest workers in the business. If you’re looking for consistent, well-written think pieces and reviews, this is the guy for you.
- Emily Nussbaum (@emilynussbaum) – Emily is the TV critic for the New Yorker, and she has thoughts about nearly every show on television. She’s also a brilliant writer and she regularly posts links to her articles.
- FILM CRIT HULK (@FilmCritHULK) – HULK’s style takes some getting used to, as he writes in all caps and speaks like, well, the Hulk, but he has so much to say, and he says it well. HULK loves movies and it’s clear in everything he tweets. Plus, his style actually becomes very fun once you get used to it.
- Zack Handlen (@zhandlen) – This is another critic, but I like him more for his willingness to engage with his followers. Zack is one of the best guys on Twitter in terms of having reasonable, intelligent conversations. He’s up for discussing any show or film, and even if his opinion is vastly different from your own, he’ll be cool about it.
This list isn’t nearly as long as it could be, but it’s a good start. If you need more help finding good critics or just interesting accounts in general on Twitter, let me know at @SkyyTweet. I would be happy to point you in the right direction!