Social media is the new water cooler, and because of that, it's no surprise that the relationship between social media and the entertainment world is increasingly starting to resemble a marriage.
The latest example of that: Twitter's new partnership with The X Factor USA.
Under the partnership, Twitter's direct messaging functionality will become a voting tool, giving viewers with a Twitter account an alternative means of voting for their favorite contestants.
As explained on the Twitter blog:
To vote, follow @TheXFactorUSA. Then submit your vote through a Direct Message (a private way to communicate on Twitter) so as not to spoil the results. All votes are sent directly to The X Factor to be counted. Tweets do not count as votes.
On one hand, using Twitter's direct messaging functionality seems like a less-than-ideal way of creating a digital voting experience for a television show.
Yes, a vote is a 'message', but so too is an email, and The X Factor isn't accepting votes by email for reasons that are fairly obvious.
On the other hand, however, there's no denying that Twitter has become a popular hub for engagement around television programming. The vote-by-DM method may be somewhat clunky, but Hollywood knows a thing or two about the importance of audiences and Twitter has an attractive online audience.
Allowing viewers to vote via DM could also be one way for the producers of The X Factor to obtain more meaningful data about viewers. As noted recently, there's still a lot we don't know about the relationship between television and social media, and initiatives like this could help change that.
At the end of the day, whether viewers of The X Factor will flock to Twitter to vote remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: television networks and studios will continue to invest in building buzz and facilitating interaction on platforms like Twitter, even if all they have to go on is faith that the investments will pay off.
Up to this point, much of the promotion and engagement has been through basic channels (eg. a profile) and advertising (eg. Promoted Trends), but going forward we can expect tighter integrations like the one seen here.