Channel 4′s The Promise: A Twitter Constellation

Occupied territory: British troops in a historical drama set in Palestine

As social media becomes more and more popular it’s not just businesses who are jumping on this new way of promoting, commenting and capturing public opinions, the mainstream media are also hot on social media’s heels. Whether it be your favourite soap, reality show or news programme, Twitter’s hashtags make it easy for you to read real time comments and updates of the programme as you watch it.

We’ve recently been really impressed by the way Channel 4 has embraced the Twitter hashtag for it’s new programme ‘The Promise’, Peter Kosminsky’s new four-part drama about the British peacekeeping force in 1940s Palestine. Knowing the programme was going to stimulate much discussion both on and offline, Channel 4 created a tracker tool, designed to illustrate the scale and variety of discussion The Promise sparked on Twitter.

The clever little tracker pulls in all the public tweets that use the hashtag #c4thepromise and meet C4′s community guidelines. It then breaks each tweet down into its constituent parts (nouns, verbs, adjectives as well as hashtags, @-replies and URLs etc) using a natural language algorithm. Then the complicated science part happens, which if you’d like to learn more about you can read Channel4′s handy about section.

After all the clever sciency technology bit has happened and the tweets have been broken down they produce a series of clusters of common themes. This Twitter Constellation of clusters give a real sense of the variety of the online conversation around the series. The volume of tweets around each theme determines how close it is to the centre of the visualisation, with the most discussed theme being closest. In the end resulting in what you see below, a sexy little Twitter constellation. Pretty cool eh?


Channel 4 will be displaying a Twitter Constellation for each episode of the four-part drama which you can view here. It’ll be interesting to see if Channel 4 do anything with these results once the series has finished, whether this will be a common tool used for future C4 series’ or if it’s simply just a clever promotional tool. Needless to say, if you’re a viewer, it’s a great way to spark conversation, interact with other viewers and share your thoughts in real-time, and we for one think this interesting and effective use of the Twitter hashtag is picked up by more mainstream media in the future.


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