Hashtag power: Twitter numbers highlight success of C4’s Dispatches #TicketScandal

Last month Channel 4 aired an edition of Dispatches focusing on ticket agencies and some of the underhand practices they employ. It sparked major online buzz and C4 powered that as it flashed the #TicketScandal hashtag on the screen throughout the show.

Now Twitter has released some timely numbers showing just how well that programme did. It managed to rack up almost 12,000 tweets in 24 hours, which helped it to pack out three of the top trending topics on the night that it aired.

The success of ‘The Great Ticket Scandal’, and the scandal relating to how fans are ripped off by fan-to-fan ticket exchanges, is exactly the kind of show that will feature on Channel 4’s new channel,4seven. The channel, announced yesterday, will be partly powered by social media conversations.

It also provides simple pointers to what broadcasters can do if they want to drive the social conversation and be apart of it rather than simply letting it happen, which is what C4 did by flashing the #TicketScandal hashtag on air throughout.

The tweets by numbers

While we see a lot of figures highlighting how TV programming have set new Twitter records in the US we’ve not seen much highlighting how social TV is working in the UK, which is what these numbers show.

Not only did the main #TicketScandal hashtag trend, but Viagogo (one of the companies mentioned) and the title of the show, ‘The Great Ticket Scandal’, also trended in the top ten as well.

Three hashtags for one programme is a nice coup for a current affairs strand like Despatches.

Overall from 8pm on the evening it aired until 8pm the following day there were a total of 11,870 tweets sent using the hashtag #TicketScandal.

During the programme itself the peak came between 9-10pm when 7,306 Tweets were sent with that hashtag.

Three main points worth noting:

1. TV perfect social channel – People go to Twitter to talk about things they’re interested in, and find others who share their interests, which makes TV perfect for it.

2. Shows that perform best - Shows that do well are often live event (like the Super Bowl) or ones that have an unexpected outcome (X Factor, Sports, BAFTAs), or is likely to spark a high level of debate such as programmes like Dispatches show or the BBC’s Question Time.

3. Hashtag as media properties – The conversation is going to be happening on Twitter anyway, so by directing people to a single hashtag as Channel 4 did amplifies the overall effect and provide one destination for everyone interested in that topic, rather than having lots of disparate conversations.

This also gives people a place to continue the conversation after the program has aired, which as we all know can go on for several days.

In the case of ‘The Great Ticket Scandal’ that is proving to be weeks. People today are still talking about it. That highlights that a hashtag can be a long term property rather than something that lasts for a day or two and is something to be invested.

Part of what is continuing to power the #TicketScandal story is the news that Radiohead is looking to put a stop to fans being ripped off buying tickets to see the band as the Independent reported at the weekend:

After discovering that fans were paying up to $1,000 (£630) to see them on their recent US tour, Radiohead have announced that concert-goers will be able to exchange tickets at close to cost price for their forthcoming UK tour through a Ticket Trust. Ticket holders who need to legitimately return unwanted tickets will register them on the site and then send the tickets to the Trust for verification. The tickets will be sold on at the normal ticket price, plus a handling fee, capped at a maximum of 10 per cent, payable by the buyer.

On purchase, the tickets will then be either dispatched securely or held at the event box office for the buyer, with the seller being credited the full ticket price to their bank account.

Only authentic tickets will be used by the service and counterfeit tickets will be intercepted and confiscated, helping to protect against fraud.