Over the first day of the public beta stage of Hey! Nielsen, the ratings company’s new online social networking site, there emerged a trend of sorts: mainly, two TV Series emerging from the pack to dominate the popularity charts. Those two series? Supernatural and Jericho.
In the case of Supernatural, the series has performed admirably in the toughest timeslot on television (Thursdays at 9pm), but is facing a new challenge this year: it is now in direct competition with NBC’s The Office, a huge hit amongst younger viewers. Perhaps anticipating this move, fans are banding together with sites like Supernatural Underground to make sure that their show gets the appreciation they believe it observes.
Jericho fans, as I’ve documented in the past, are fighting to keep the promotion of their series going while its 7-episode order awaits a spot on CBS’ schedule. They’re currently dealing with some internal struggles, but there remains a group devoted to promoting the show to new fans and ensuring that the series has a future on television.
And the devotion of both of these fan groups is palpable: they are #1 and #2 respectively on the Hey! Nielsen website. However, as much as I respect and honour the dedication of these groups of fans, I want to warn them that as with any other social networking there is a distinct possibility that some of this support may backfire. And, although I would never attempt to tell anyone what to do, I want to make a suggestion.
On a message board, there’s a general rule that if there’s a thread of discussion open about something, you should comment there as opposed to starting your own. This becomes more subjective when it comes to “Opinions” as Hey! Nielsen labels them, but I think it applies in this instance as well. Within both of the above camps there has been opinions which are nearly identical, but are posted separately.
This creates more opinions, yes, but also more backlash from the outside community: there are people who are deliberately going into opinions about these two shows and reacting negatively against them purely due to volume. There’s even an opinion on the subject from someone who enjoys the show (And has been involved in developing the site) regarding the overpopulation of Jericho Opinions.
And while I think that the point could have been made in a slightly less antagonistic fashion, I agree with her: I think there are too many opinions about Jericho, and Supernatural for that matter. This is supposed to be about promotion, but it is losing the key aspects of a strong promotional drive.
Promotion is best served with quality, not quantity: one opinion with 50 comments is going to show the level of appreciation fans have for a show without drawing the same backlash as 10 opinions all essentially saying “Jericho is awesome.” I know everyone has their own reasons, but the comment feature allows those to be heard as well.
The medium is the message, as Marshall McLuhan would say, and I think that in this case comments give users a chance to use their voice without “spamming” the system at the same time. It’s a great way to show your appreciation for a show without drawing the same type of backlash. And, when you do have a new discussion/opinion about the series that differs from those offered, I don’t think people will have the same reaction.
The Hey! Nielsen system is a fantastic way for fans of underappreciated shows to spread the word, but there is a fine line between promotion and spamming that seems like it has been crossed. I want to see Hey! Nielsen be a way for fans to show their support, but I also think that the more chaotic the site becomes the less valuable each individual opinion will be in the eyes of the Nielsen people who are apparently using this data.
So my suggestion is simple: maybe instead of posting another opinion about the series, post comments to the existing ones. As opposed to adding another post similar to others, add those thoughts to one of the ones posted early on and make sure to react to them. I think that this continues to spread the word about these deserving series without drawing the ire of a community full of potential viewers.