The ways in which we interact online with our favorite shows is very different on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit—and that’s underscored by just how divergent the most popular shows on each platform are. The following charts say just as much about each social media platform as they do about the TV shows themselves.
Facebook—lighter fare (animated shows and comedies)
Even though young people are leaving Facebook, the most popular shows on this platform skew toward a younger audience. That’s partly because older people just watch far less TV, but the main reason is probably that the top shows on Facebook are also, simply, among the most popular shows anywhere. For example, The Big Bang Theory is the most-watched comedy in the US, and The Walking Dead is cable’s most watched series. Most of these shows don’t require much analysis, but they are inherently shareable.
There’s also something to be said about identity, given that a show will appear in your Facebook profile if you “like” that page. Most people wouldn’t have a problem with friends knowing that they watch The Simpsons. You can’t necessarily say the same for many of the most popular shows on Twitter, as you’ll see below.
Twitter—events, reality TV, and news
The most popular TV show Twitter accounts belong to talk shows, reality shows, or cable news programs. However, the shows with the most followers on Twitter aren’t necessarily the ones being tweeted about the most. TV chatter on Twitter often is dominated by major live events, like award shows, football games, or singing competitions. For instance, Love & Hip Hop: Atlanta generated 471,000 tweets while it aired last week, but the show’s official Twitter account only has 200,000 followers—nowhere near the top 10. You don’t need to follow a show’s official Twitter account in order to talk about it in real-time with other people across the world.
And unlike Facebook, where a show’s official page can post something and prompt hundreds of comments and thousands of likes, a Tweet from an official show account won’t garner nearly as many direct interactions—be it retweets, favorites, or replies. Most TV Twitter interactions happen amongst fans of shows, not between the fans and the show itself.
Nielsen released a report earlier this summer that showed what the most-tweeted-about series of the last year were. Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and Game of Thrones all were among the most talked-about, which makes sense since they are also some of the most buzzworthy shows on the other social media platforms. But again, these are merely instances when Twitter users mention these shows—not when they engage with a specific show’s Twitter account.
The majority of Reddit users are young males. Accordingly, the most popular TV subreddits (Reddit pages devoted solely to links and discussion for a specific topic) are for shows that attract a young male audience. But they also tend to be shows that require in-depth discussion, recapping, and theorizing. Many of the popular subreddits will have an “episode thread” for users to discuss episodes live in real-time—but unlike a Twitter feed, they need to be refreshed for new content to appear.
The bulk of TV subreddit content comes after an episode airs, as users post pictures, videos, and spoilers, and then argue about it all until the next episode. TV subreddits have essentially rendered fan sites useless, as you can find pretty much everything you’d ever want in a specific show’s subreddit—not to mention, much of the content on independent fan sites probably originated on Reddit anyway.