After three weeks of highly entertaining TV, Monday saw the explosive live final of Channel 4’s brand new social media reality show The Circle. Obviously, as social media enthusiasts, our Leeds Digital Agency was hooked from the start; it was fascinating to see the programme obliterate the already blurred boundaries between television and social media.
For those who didn’t watch, the Big Brother format was revolutionised to reflect the digital age by having each contestant live in separate apartments in a block of flats, they never met one another and could only communicate via ‘the circle’, a social media platform. The aim of the game was to become the most popular player calculated by the contestants continually being asked to rate each other (a reference perhaps to Black Mirror’s ‘Nosedive’) to ultimately win £50k.
What made the show interesting was that the players were given the option to either be themselves or create a character in order to gain popularity. The choice to catfish their fellow contestants allowed viewers to see the lengths players would go in order to become the most influential.
Speaking on Radio 4’s The Media Show, the show’s creator Stephen Lambert, commented, “The Circle is marketed as Black Mirror meets Big Brother meets Catfish. […] To find a reality show that reflected the good and the bad of social media seemed like an exciting idea.”
As a digital marketing agency, we are fascinated with the social world and how it has changed everything we know and they way we function over the past decade, in business and in our personal lives. Despite its criticisms, The Circle has shown how influential social channels are on our perception of reality, highlighting our societies infatuation, or perhaps addiction, to all things social media.
Undoubtedly, the ’social media age’ has transformed television, particularly reality television, by giving the public a voice and instigating conversation. Gone are the days when reviewers had complete authority, now all you need to do is log onto Twitter and join the live commentary and debates to have your say. This is also true for brands, there is no longer sole professional control over a company’s image or reputation, today the public controls the media more than ever and everyone has an opinion.
The Circle has shown us, good and bad, the ultimate power of influence in social media. Channel 4 have cleverly collided reality television with social media and finally taken out the middleman to embrace the inevitable future of television and broadcasting. The same should be done for marketing and this is why here at Punch we value all things social and believe that utilising these platforms is essential for a brands success. It is no longer enough for a business to be self-contained and solely concerned with themselves, the rise of the social revolution has led to industry-wide, nationwide and even worldwide news and concerns to become relevant to everyone. Brands must become a part of the conversation and engage as influencers in their own field, or risk being left out in the cold and ‘blocked’ from success.