It wasn’t so long ago that social and digital were being held accountable for the death of traditional media behaviours. On-demand streaming would pave the way for a world without synchronised viewing, while social would democratise commentary around major media moments, putting an end to cultural gatekeeping.
But old media tropes haven’t become redundant: they’ve just been reimagined (and replatformed).
More now than ever, social is the first screen, home to a whole new type of media consumption.
This isn’t just about social-first formats, though: it’s about how social is influencing traditional media. Social commentary has long been important: it’s how the term ‘second screening’ was born. But the commentators – and the platforms they’re on – have more influence than ever.
On the one hand, they’re now dictating what people watch: it’s doubtful Squid Game would have become Netflix’s biggest success to date without the inescapable meme cycle that’s shrouded it. But the creators around these moments are increasingly being invited into traditional media moments from the offset. When people watched Anna Wintour arrive at the 2021 MET Gala, many rejected E! Entertainment’s usual commentary in favour of the Instagram Stories of famed memer @sainthoax.
This is a more democratic form of entertainment, where what people watch and who gets to commentate on it are elected by likes and follows.
From The Weeknd’s live performance in TikTok to Elon Musk’s room limit-breaking Clubhouse event, unmissable high profile events are happening in the spaces we scroll through on a daily basis. Roblox, for instance, recently launched listening parties for artists to debut albums to fans as part of an in-platform event.