A Friendly Warning to Supernatural and Jericho Fans Re: Hey! Nielsen

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.

Can Jericho Fans Talk About Anything Else? – Hey! Nielsen

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.

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15 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Supernatural, Television

15 responses to “A Friendly Warning to Supernatural and Jericho Fans Re: Hey! Nielsen

  1. Myles:

    Thanks for your take on the best use of Hey!Nielsen. I responded to the poster you referenced above — I see what she’s talking about, but I think a lot of the Jericho passion is, yes, simply passion. But it’s also the responsibility the fans carry for carrying the Jericho message and building a bigger fan base. CBS put that onus on fans, and in the wake of almost losing the show, fans are rabid to do the ‘right’ things to win more seasons of the show. They are doing what they were told to do. And lots of them have never done anything like this before, so if it’s clumsy, it’s the learning curve everybody goes through with something new. A little patience, less crankiness, and more understanding and support would be appreciated. However — to be fair — point taken on the number of posted opinions. I appreciate your insight.

  2. And, oh, by the way, that “crankiness” comment is not directed at you — just in case I was unclear with my earlier comment. :>

  3. I’m here via Google alerts, and I completely agree with you. I’m a member of Supernatural Underground, and I can tell you that we’re doing our best to get the word out to fandom that we may be shooting ourselves in the foot rather than helping promote the show when we spam Hey! Nielsen.

    We were, of course, thrilled to hear about Hey! Nielsen, largely because Nielsen ratings in general have not been kind to our show, and this seems like an excellent way for fans who feel underrepresented to actually have their voices heard. So, when we got word that the beta site was opening, there was a rush to post. I feel confident that the amount of posting will die down quickly; in the meantime, we’re encouraging people to do exactly what you said — post only when they have something significantly different to say, and otherwise comment on existing posts.

    I do want to apologize to anyone we’ve unwittingly annoyed, and ask for a little patience while we get our fandom all on the same page, so to speak.

    BTW, I’ve experienced the backlash myself already. I run a website for Operation: Winchester, a non-profit project that is sending care packages to troops overseas (including a set of Supernatural DVDs.) When the site was listed on Hey! Nielsen, several people immediately rated it -5. I’m a little bewildered that anyone could be that opposed to sending care packages to troops, but I’m sure it’s due to frustration with our fans’ spamming rather than actual dislike of the project.

    At any rate, thank you for your post; I plan to post a link to it for other Supernatural fans.

  4. Hi, I’m Erika, Founder and a co-leader at the SPN Underground, and I also wanted to apologize for any excessive spamming our enthusiastic fans might have done in wanting to promote SPN.

    While I do believe in promoting what is a fantastic show, I do agree that there is a line of which we should be careful. One of the main aims when the Underground was founded was to be professional at all our attempts at promotions.

    I would not want to discourage fans from their enthusiasm, but I do think your suggestions are good ones. We’ll see if we can’t spread the word to promote in a way that will allow us to keep up the support without being excessive.

    Thank you!

  5. Erika and Hanncoll,

    I appreciate your input, and your dedication to promoting the series. And I completely agree: this isn’t about discouraging, but rather channeling enthusiasm, and that is a very hard thing to do when you have fans who want their favourite show to stick around.

    The professionalism of Supernatural Underground impressed me, and striving for that goal is a fantastic way to go. But, personally, I think that anyone who faults Supernatural fans for liking their show too much, and doesn’t give them time to adjust, are being judgmental and unfair.

    Hopefully the message gets out, thanks for visiting!

  6. Alison

    I think another issue is that many fans may not have realized that posting “opinions” at Hey! Nielsen were tantamount to starting new threads on a message board. I know I didn’t. As a Supernatural fan, I certainly don’t want to alienate people simply because we were trying to spread the word about our show. Because of the way Hey! Nielsen presents its system, I’m not sure other people will realize that, either. Perhaps that’s something to be learned from this beta process: make it clear what is spam?

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

  7. Heidi

    I’m concurring with Alison, because I was playing around on the site, and one quirk of the setup is that the “rate it” and “status” attributes are almost easy to overlook compared to adding/creating opinions, which are basically on there twice on bright yellow buttons. Maybe highlighting the “rate” attribute, or even making a mouseover that will showcase that, rather than showcasing adding opinions, would make it clearer to first-timers as to all the ways that one can “highlight” one’s show choices without seeming spamish?

  8. Emily

    I agree. I didn’t realize that posting an opinion would be like starting a new thread. I didn’t even notice the rate button. :) I thought you had to leave an opinion in order to rate.

  9. JenJen

    I agree with Alison… the system and layout of the H!N site aren’t very forthcoming. I haven’t left an “opinion” myself but up until now I didn’t know that it meant creating a whole new entry either.

  10. Winnie

    I agree with the others above me. I’m sorry, I too had no idea it was basically like starting a new thread with each opinion. This is a very new set up to me and I too thought you had to make an opinion before being able to agree on any previous ones.

    I understand why people would think that Supernatural fans were spamming the site and I would hate the enthusiasm of my fandom (Supernatural)to be the reason for alienating the people we are trying to get to hear us.

    I believe there are many young fans out there in the Supernatural fandom that are very enthusiastic about the show. That may well be why there are so many *squeee* type posts, rather than ‘real’ opinion posts. Those new to fandom often don’t realise that such support can be seen as spamming, I know I didn’t when I was in my first fandom just starting out.

    We have a very loyal fan base out there, and unfortunately a young fan base (age of fandom not necessarily age of fans) can sometimes be like a young child, easily excited without much thought. I hope the fan responses will not hurt your opinion of ‘us’ the Supernatural fans, though I fear it may be too late for that.

    Thank you for giving us a place that we can be heard and where our support can be directly given to those who collate the ratings.

  11. Yay, nerd convention. woot

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  15. RaiulBaztepo

    Hello!
    Very Interesting post! Thank you for such interesting resource!
    PS: Sorry for my bad english, I’v just started to learn this language ;)
    See you!
    Your, Raiul Baztepo

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