Youth fiction content on social networks: fan communities and TV platforms
Alba García Vega, Julián de la Fuente Prieto
Youth fiction content on social networks: fan communities and TV platforms
ICONO 14, Revista de comunicación y tecnologías emergentes, vol. 20, no. 1, 2022
Asociación científica ICONO 14
La creación de contenidos de ficción juveniles en redes sociales: interacción entre comunidades de fans y plataformas de TV
A criação de conteúdos de ficção juvenil em redes sociais: interacção entre as comunidades de fãs e as plataformas de televisão
Received: 27 June 2021
Review: 01 August 2021
Accepted: 12 November 2021
Published: 01 January 2022
Abstract: This research addresses the challenge of analysing the interactive practices that young adults develop in fan communities through different platforms and social networks. A case study based on the 3rd season of the series “SKAM España” is proposed. The theoretical framework defines the importance of fan communities in the media context, the role of social networks as opportunities for youth participation and the interaction models that arise from this fiction consumption. As for the methodology, a qualitative analysis based on digital anthropology is used through various data collection techniques such as virtual ethnography and focus group, which are analysed and interpreted according to the theory of discourse analysis, using a multimodal approach. The results of the research involve the reconstruction of the contents generated through social networks, taking into account both the intentionality of their creators and the impact achieved among the social audience. The conclusions allow establishing levels of interaction between the fan community and fictional content. Finally, the discussion debates the new models of youth audience and the role of content producers in facilitating the immersion of fans in transmedia fiction.
The theoretical framework defines the importance of fan communities in the media context, the role of social networks as opportunities for youth participation and the interaction models that arise from this fiction consumption.
As for the methodology, a qualitative analysis based on digital anthropology is used through various data collection techniques such as virtual ethnography and focus group, which are analysed and interpreted according to the theory of discourse analysis, using a multimodal approach.
The results of the research involve the reconstruction of the contents generated through social networks, taking into account both the intentionality of their creators and the impact achieved among the social audience. The conclusions allow establishing levels of interaction between the fan community and fictional content.
Finally, the discussion debates the new models of youth audience and the role of content producers in facilitating the immersion of fans in transmedia fiction.
Keywords: Fan communities; social networks; tv series; interactive content; narrative immersion; digital anthropology.
Resumen: Esta investigación aborda el reto de analizar las prácticas interactivas que los jóvenes desarrollan en las comunidades de fans a través de diferentes plataformas y redes sociales. Para ello, se plantea un estudio de caso basado en la 3º temporada de la serie SKAM España. El marco teórico define la importancia de las comunidades de fans en el contexto de los medios, el papel de las redes sociales como espacios para la participación juvenil y los modelos de interacción que surgen a partir de este consumo de ficción. En cuanto a la metodología, se emplea un análisis cualitativo basado en la antropología digital, a través de varias técnicas de recogida de datos como la etnografía virtual y focus group, que son analizados e interpretados según la teoría de análisis del discurso, utilizando para ello un enfoque multimodal. Los resultados de la investigación suponen la reconstrucción de los contenidos generados a través de las redes sociales, teniendo en cuenta tanto la intencionalidad de sus creadores como el impacto logrado entre la audiencia social. Las conclusiones permiten establecer unos niveles de interacción entre la comunidad de fans y los contenidos de ficción. Finalmente, la discusión debate los nuevos modelos de audiencia juvenil y el papel de las productoras de contenidos tienen a la hora de facilitar la inmersión de los fans en la ficción transmedia.
El marco teórico define la importancia de las comunidades de fans en el contexto de los medios, el papel de las redes sociales como espacios para la participación juvenil y los modelos de interacción que surgen a partir de este consumo de ficción.
En cuanto a la metodología, se emplea un análisis cualitativo basado en la antropología digital, a través de varias técnicas de recogida de datos como la etnografía virtual y focus group, que son analizados e interpretados según la teoría de análisis del discurso, utilizando para ello un enfoque multimodal.
Los resultados de la investigación suponen la reconstrucción de los contenidos generados a través de las redes sociales, teniendo en cuenta tanto la intencionalidad de sus creadores como el impacto logrado entre la audiencia social. Las conclusiones permiten establecer unos niveles de interacción entre la comunidad de fans y los contenidos de ficción.
Finalmente, la discusión debate los nuevos modelos de audiencia juvenil y el papel de las productoras de contenidos tienen a la hora de facilitar la inmersión de los fans en la ficción transmedia.
Palabras clave: Comunidades de fans; redes sociales; series tv; contenidos interactivos; inmersión narrativa; antropología digital.
Resumo: Esta investigação aborda o desafio de analisar as práticas interactivas que os jovens desenvolvem nas comunidades de fãs através de diferentes plataformas e redes sociais. Para tal, é proposto um estudo de caso baseado na 3ª temporada da série SKAM Espanha. O quadro teórico define a importância das comunidades de fãs no contexto dos meios de comunicação social, o papel das redes sociais como espaços de participação dos jovens e os modelos de interacção que decorrem deste consumo de ficção. Quanto à metodologia, uma análise qualitativa baseada na antropologia digital é utilizada através de várias técnicas de recolha de dados como a etnografia virtual e o focus group, que são analisados e interpretados de acordo com a teoria da análise do discurso, utilizando uma abordagem multimodal. Os resultados da investigação envolvem a reconstrução dos conteúdos gerados através de redes sociais, tendo em conta tanto a intencionalidade dos seus criadores como o impacto alcançado entre o público social. As conclusões permitem estabelecer níveis de interação entre a comunidade de fãs e os conteúdos ficcionais. Por fim, a discussão discute os novos modelos de público jovem e o papel dos produtores de conteúdo na facilitação da imersão dos fãs na ficção transmídia.
O quadro teórico define a importância das comunidades de fãs no contexto dos meios de comunicação social, o papel das redes sociais como espaços de participação dos jovens e os modelos de interacção que decorrem deste consumo de ficção.
Quanto à metodologia, uma análise qualitativa baseada na antropologia digital é utilizada através de várias técnicas de recolha de dados como a etnografia virtual e o focus group, que são analisados e interpretados de acordo com a teoria da análise do discurso, utilizando uma abordagem multimodal.
Os resultados da investigação envolvem a reconstrução dos conteúdos gerados através de redes sociais, tendo em conta tanto a intencionalidade dos seus criadores como o impacto alcançado entre o público social. As conclusões permitem estabelecer níveis de interação entre a comunidade de fãs e os conteúdos ficcionais.
Por fim, a discussão discute os novos modelos de público jovem e o papel dos produtores de conteúdo na facilitação da imersão dos fãs na ficção transmídia.
Palavras-chave: Comunidades de fãs; redes sociais; séries televisivas; conteúdos interactivos; imersão narrativa; antropologia digital.
Fan communities are transforming consumption practices and content production, which are distancing young platform users from the consumption of certain media. However, this situation can be improved through a strategy that enables the interaction and engagement of young adults to be included in the fictional content offered by television platforms.
We understand fandom (Lacasa, 2020) as a digital practice that encourages the interaction of a group of people, usually young adults, around a cultural object or celebrity. These fan communities regularly have an international presence and are organized through social networks, but multiple local phenomena that manage to establish relationships beyond the internet are also documented (de la Fuente, 2020).
Such is the case with “SKAM España”, which is addressed in this article through the study of its fan community and the strategies that the production company Zeppelin deployed during the 3rd season of the series to achieve the commitment of adolescents to consuming fictional series.
Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the interaction that takes place between young fan communities and television content producers through social networks. To achieve this, the study will first address the theoretical framework that will establish the importance of fan communities in the context of media, the role of social networks as spaces for youth engagement, and the interaction models that emerge from this consumption of fiction. After contextualizing the case study and the case methodology, the main results found using the proposed model of analysis will be presented. Finally, a discussion of these results will follow, which will cover the lines of research on production proposed in the monograph.
1.1 The fan culture of young adults across media
The activity of young adults on the Internet is marked by the use of different platforms (Cortesi & Gasser, 2015). Fan communities, which are understood to be interest groups that share their admiration for some element of popular culture, such as television series, appear in this context.
These communities have been gaining more and more prominence in digital media (Stein, 2015). Currently, studies on fandom (Gray et al., 2017) have outdid the individual study of these communities, attributing a structural role to the fan phenomenon within media studies.
The end result is that fan communities are more than just cultural phenomena, as their activities range from civic engagement (Jenkins et al., 2015) to social learning (Walker, 2017). In this sense, it is only appropriate to study each case in detail to understand the engagement strategies that occur and that allow us to consider fandom as a communicative phenomenon established particularly among young adults (Lacasa et al., 2020).
However, in order to understand a little better how this engagement occurs, we need to examine the practices that are carried out through these platforms.
1.2 Social networks as an opportunity for youth engagement
Consumer habits are constantly evolving and young adults move from one platform to another. This is how social networks are ubiquitously placed among the media (Daubs & Manzerolle, 2018), transforming the relationships between different actors and proposing a new transmedia ecosystem where audience engagement is key.
These platforms have developed their own discourses and content, creating a space of coexistence where both creators and viewers meet (Vázquez-Herrero, et al., 2019). In social networks, the contents become participatory both in their distribution, as well as in terms of dissemination and creation practices. Young adults in particular are able to appropriate these contents through the use of new language and the organization of communities based on common discourses (García Jiménez, et al., 2016).
In particular, young fan communities demand the greatest consumer experience possible (Del Pino & Aguado, 2012). It is not enough for them to simply view content, but they develop interactivity based on virtual, social and collective media practices. Therefore, multidirectional consumption, caused by the convergence of media (Jenkins, 2006), makes it possible for young adults to feel a greater immersion in content.
1.3 Interaction as part of fiction consumption
The interactive use that a TV platform can make of social networks is essentially based on the synchronization of viewing through its promotion, but also on the expansion of the narrative from the development of certain character profiles (Cortés-Gómez, et al., 2016). All of the above allows young adults to interact with the content and its dissemination, but also to participate in the narrative development of the series itself.
The active interaction of the audience in any physical or digital media implies a degree of immersion. The immersive experience refers to any activity where the audience has the possibility to immerse themselves in a digital or physical environment. This environment will be mediated by sensory experiences and its success will depend on the involvement that the viewer feels with the plot (Gretsova & Sibina, 2020).
Immersion is determined by a series of processes in which young adults are able to enter the fictional world. Therefore, the levels of interaction are directly related to the degree of immersion that viewers have with the story’s narrative elements. Thus, the contents that are generated must be based on the design of narratives that involve the audience (Legerén & Zagalo, 2019) and, at the same time, adapt to the sociocultural practices that young adults are interested in.
1.3.1 Audience interaction in social networks
Young adults are highly interested in using the Internet and social networks due to the possibility of interacting with people beyond their close environment (Cortesi & Gasser, 2015). Users commenting on or having a conversation about a television series activates shared meanings (Jenkins et al., 2013), who also tend to find their own discourse within the fan community which favours the use of a common language.
A social interaction which fosters personal relationships based on a common experience and the feeling of belonging to a group arises in this context (DeDominicis, 2016). Affinity spaces through which young adults manage to find other people with the same interests, tastes, or opinions are created. In addition, immersion will allow them to share the same goals, activities, and values. All of these events are always based on the television content that serves as a unifying element, allowing us to place this activity in time and space.
Therefore, although it is primarily a television series that brings these fans together, their community is progressively developing and becoming increasingly complex as the relationships between the participants develop. Therefore, fans find their place within the story and their interaction is directly related to the fandom and their immersion in the fictional universe.
1.3.2 Active audience and interactive structures
The young audience is also attracted by activities related to the search for information or the creation of content that leads them to participate through different media (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013). This concern encourages the creation of interactive media based on the direct involvement of audiences. Said media are designed through interactive structures based on the multiple possibilities of distribution and organization of the narrative elements so that fans can consume the content through open systems (Ryan, 2001).
Interactive structures reconfigure the way in which fiction series are narrated, trying to adapt them to the practices of young adults. Therefore, this level of interaction implies a certain interest in the consumption of content, since its correct functioning is determined by direct viewer engagement. In this way, the fans, who were already beginning their immersion in the story through the communities, experience a greater predisposition to carry out a more autonomous and open mode of consumption.
1.3.3 Virtual environments and audience interaction
There is another degree of interaction which generates virtual environments for engagement (Sayán, 2020). It is interfaces that facilitate dialogue in a public and remote way (Barton & Lampley, 2013). The difference between engagement in social networks and the creation of virtual environments is the continuity that takes place in this dialogue coordinated by the fan community. In these environments, the contents are transformed and resignified from the moment the fans receive the fiction series.
Therefore, young adults first access social networks to interact with the rest of the content viewers, but when they generate a community and become fans, their degree of immersion in the story is greater and they begin to generate specific virtual environments where meanings are negotiated and multiple parallel creation practices are generated.
1.3.4 Fictional representations or immersive experiences
Immersion, both digital and physical, implies a convergence of narrative content and fan actions at a given moment. Within the immersive experiences, the audience becomes part of the plot. This type of experiences requires the involvement of viewers in the creation process, merging the narrative elements of fictional series with real scenarios (Gretsova & Sibina, 2020).
Therefore, the interaction with the space induces the viewers’ emotions so that they feel present in a fictionalized reality or environment where they can perform significant actions in the story (Villa, 2018).
In short, fans, through multiple experiences and based on different degrees of interaction, are able to literally and metaphorically “feel” the story narrative (Manovich, 2005). Therefore, experiences based on fandom interaction, engagement, and immersion expand the possibilities of fiction consumption due to the fact that young adults can enter a fictionalized reality.
2. Material and Methods
Research design aims to analyse the practices that young adults develop in fan communities through social networks (Lacasa, 2020). The above takes into account both the strategies and the contents provided by the media, to encourage both the interaction and the immersion of these adolescents in the fiction contents.
2.1 Objectives and Justification
The objectives of this research are therefore related to a study of audiences from a qualitative point of view, which allows:
- To determine how a community of fans influences the consumption of the fictional series.
- To identify the interactive experiences that are produced after consuming this series.
- To discover the contents created by young adults in the immersion process within the series.
To this end, a qualitative approach is adopted, which allows an in-depth analysis of the data obtained from the engagement of the audience in social networks (Martínez-Borda et al., 2020). That is the reason that leads us to propose a case study through a sociocultural context.
The selected example is “SKAM España” (Movistar, 2018). It is a transmedia content generated by the Spanish VOD platform Movistar+, which is an outstanding example of the integration of fiction series and social networks among those currently seen on Spanish television (Vázquez-Herrero et al., 2019).
2.2 The “SKAM España” Case
“SKAM España” is a remake of the original SKAM series, created by Julie Andem in 2015 for Norwegian public television. It is a series aimed at an adolescent audience, which deals with problems and situations typical of this age group, thanks to a great deal of documentation work. In Spain, the format was adapted in 2018 according to the request made by Movistar+ to Zeppelin (the production company).
The series uses a double format that can be viewed in 3-5 minute long clips or in chapters of about 20-40 minutes total. All of this is complemented with other content disseminated through different social networks such as videos on Youtube, photos on Instagram, or Whatsapp conversations (Figure 2). Clips are posted throughout each week in sync with the day and time the action takes place. The full chapter, which combines the contents of these clips, is broadcast at the end of each week. In this way, the public can choose between consuming the series daily or weekly.
It should be noted that SKAM has an important international fandom phenomenon (Sundet, 2020) that has also been reproduced in Spain (Gutiérrez et al., 2019), being one of the most valued versions due to the originality of plots and dissemination of digital content. In this case, we are going to focus on analysing the content generated from the interaction between the fan community and those responsible for SKAM España's social networks.
2.3 Data Collection and Analysis
To carry out this case study, we have adopted a qualitative methodology that allows us to deepen both the analysis and the interpretation of the evidence collected within the context of the fan community present in social networks.
In this sense, the choice was to use digital anthropology (Horst & Miller, 2012) as a sociocultural approach that involves analysing the influence of digital culture on human practices. This method makes it possible to study both the practices produced on the Internet and the events that take place outside the Internet. In fact, we have tried, at all times, to combine several data collection techniques that ensured triangulation between the different perspectives:
- Virtual ethnography (Boellstorff, 2012). The participant observation of the fan community was carried out using this technique. Synchronously, the activity developed by fans on social networks has been monitored daily through the hashtag #SkamEspaña during the broadcast period of the third season, from 22 December 2019 to 8 March 2020. Thanks to the research diaries, it has been possible to codify the evolution of these practices and discourses, allowing us to make a selection of a total of 357 tweets that serve as a total representation of the interaction that has been established by the fans. The reason for selecting the above-mentioned tweets was based on the extraction of categories through a longitudinal study based on participant observation. Thus, the most recurrent themes and elements within the fandom interaction have been specified. Subsequently, the Nvivo12 software was used as an analysis tool, in order to encode the information from the collected data.
- Focus Group (Kamberelis & Dimitriadis, 2014). An intensive dialogue has been held with those responsible for the social networks of the Zeppelin production company, who have been in charge of creating the content as well as the strategy on SKAM España’s platforms. In addition to helping us contextualize the phenomenon, we have been able to contrast the results found in social networks with the actions arranged by the production company.
When analysing the data, we tried to reconstruct the processes that allowed fans to interact with the production company through the content generated on social networks. These contents have been analysed and interpreted according to the theory of discourse analysis (Gee, 2014), using a multimodal approach with a special focus on the new discourse models used by young adults on the Internet.
The contents analysed in this research are the result of the practice of the different interaction models that arise in social networks both by the young adults which are part of the fan community and by the production company responsible for the fiction series.
The interaction in each fiction series is determined by the audience to which it is aimed and, therefore, it is important to analyse it. In this sense, the SKAM España series producers reveal how they raised this first question through research that could bring them closer to Spanish adolescents (Transcript 1).
Transcript 1: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"Before writing any script for the series, we carried out research on groups of teenagers in the presence of a psychologist. Several interviews were performed at institutes to try to collect as much information as possible and to understand the concerns of Spanish adolescents, to learn about their customs, their ways of partying, studying, interacting with their environment”.
The main concept SKAM España works with is to design all of their elements according to the reality of adolescents themselves. Therefore, they focus on ensuring that the content is consistent with the character plots at all times (Transcript 2).
Transcript 2: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"All departments work in support of a narrative. It's not just uploading the coolest post or the prettiest selfie, but things that are really consistent with the characters, [...] that contribute to the plot that each character is going through and not to upload things that are simply distracting”.
Therefore, this representation makes it possible for young adults to identify with the characters, facilitating the immersion of the fans in the narrative. In addition, it enhances the interaction at the different levels that SKAM España fans experience when consuming the series.
3.1 Interaction in Social Networks
The producers of SKAM España recognized from the outset the potential of the autonomy that fans found in social networks. Therefore, they approached it through a strategy based precisely on the freedom of their audience. Fans talked to each other without being prompted to engage. They had the opportunity to create their own SKAM España community from scratch, without interventions from the producers to direct the dialogue and discourse of the interactions (Transcript 3).
Transcript 3: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
“The first season of the series had no intervention from Zeppelin or Movistar. […] We let the fans take ownership of the series before we could, so that they really felt that they had started to push it and it was theirs.”
This is how fans had the possibility to create their own SKAM España community. It is a community in which fans feel free to express their opinions, to talk to other adolescents and thus create a network of interaction where values, feelings, and social relationships originate among the fandom (Figure 3).
Therefore, engaging on different social networks does not mean simply giving an opinion on the contents of the series. This interaction presupposes a first immersion during which fans find their place within the SKAM world. Thanks to the fandom, teenagers are able to bring fiction closer to their reality, sharing their emotions and comments regarding the content with other teenagers (Figure 4).
In addition, the creation of content arises spontaneously within fan communities, with the aim of adapting the story development to their expectations and desires (Figure 5). This is how fan-fictions and other items produced in a collaborative way appear and find a suitable way to be distributed and consumed within the community.
3.2 Structures: time and interactive space
SKAM España contents are broadcast throughout the day, so the plots always remain open. Fan engagement with the series is located in a defined time and space in which the division of content appears in different formats, media, and platforms (Transcript, 4).
Transcript 4: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"SKAM España is content that is published on different platforms in a complementary manner; they are all different threads of the same story. You can watch a single one and you can understand it; and if you decide to watch it on different social networks or platforms, that adds to it”.
In addition, the fictional content is published in real time, that is, it is broadcast at the exact times when the action in the plot takes place in each case (Transcript 5). This tactic makes it possible for teenagers to become even more involved with the story, since they get to fully experience the day-to-day life of the characters.
Transcript 5: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"Being a series that is broadcast day by day allows them to have a completely different connection with the plots and what the characters are experiencing. In addition, the hyperrealism that the series is trying to achieve makes them not simply characters, but almost as if influencers or youtubers that they see every day become part of their life”.
This context causes the fans' perception of time to be shaped and altered. When the content is broadcast in real time, a greater hyperrealism is generated in the plot (Figure 6). The audience does not expect the content at an exact time, it happens spontaneously throughout the day.
In addition to that described above, it is worth exploring the website that SKAM España has designed to consume all the content through an interactive structure based on an open system. Contents are divided into various circuits through which fans can navigate and consume each element. These are divided into three main blocks: the seasons of the series, full chapters, and Instagram profiles (Figure 7).
In the case of the seasons of the series, when fans access one of them, they will find all the content (clips, Whatsapp chats and Instagram photos). This content can be sorted in ascending or descending order (Figure 8), which generates different modes of consumption.
Therefore, the interaction between fans and the series’ content is organized according to some basic time and space coordinates. This structure is perfectly adapted to the routines of young adults and offers a recognizable interface for teenagers to interact with the media content.
3.3 Immersion in Virtual Environments
The SKAM España series features the creation of Instagram profiles for each of the main characters. These profiles depict the daily life of each of them as if they were a real person. The decision to select Instagram as the virtual environment was once again due to a study carried prior to content creation (Transcript 6).
Transcript 6: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
“As far as selecting platforms, we carried out a market study and observed that teenagers were on Instagram. We thought about getting into Twitter as well, but we wanted to focus on one platform and not to spread it out too much.”
Instagram profiles work as an extension of the narrative where hyperrealism is generated through the personification of the characters. Fans can know what the characters are doing at each moment. In addition, they work as a supplement to launch content that does not appear in the series’ chapters (Transcript 7).
Transcript 7: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
“From one season to another we knew that Nora and Alejandro [characters in the series] were not going to be together, but we knew that the fans could blame us for not having seen Norandro's relationship […] So we showed them Norandro between seasons via Instagram. Their entire relationship before the start of the season was on display.”
These publications show a reaction which matches both the personality of the characters and the attitude that any teenager would have when sharing their lives on social networks (Figure 9), which causes fans to completely identify with the story.
However, there are limitations to these Instagram profiles. According to the head of SM at Zeppelin, practically all of the content is programmed before it is broadcast, which pre-determines the possibilities of audience interaction. For this reason, fans decided to create fictional Twitter profiles by putting themselves in the shoes of their favourite characters (Figure 10).
In this way, they generated their own interactive virtual environment, where dialogues are established between the fictitious accounts and the rest of the fandom. The teenagers behind the Twitter profiles have come to interpret their own experiences because they share similar personality traits with the character they are representing.
The immersion in the narrative is deeper since the fans are able to contribute to the story from their own virtual environment (Figure 11). In addition, they expand the story through the creation of content during the time slots when the producers do not publish content.
Both environments, the one managed by the producers and the one managed by the fandom, coexist perfectly at the same level and complement each other. The fandom can fictionalize the interactions on the fictitious Twitter accounts at the same time that the narrative elements are disseminated on the social networks that adolescents use daily.
3.4 Fictional Representations or Live Immersions
Within the series, the characters were hosting a teen party to raise money for their end-of-year trip. The clips of the fundraising party had been recorded normally like any other content. However, SKAM España producers decided to expand the possibilities of engagement by creating an event (Transcript 8). They made the decision to recreate the end-of-year party live, allowing a certain number of fans to access it:
Transcript 8: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"We came up with the live event for its innovation. It was something we did for the fans [...]. We really wanted to do something cohesive that we hadn't seen in any other version of Skam or in any other series”.
The particularity in this case is that not only was it a face-to-face event, but it also took place live through social networks and in sync with broadcasting the series’ content. This meta party was recreated as it was filmed in the clips and fans were able to fully immerse themselves in SKAM España’s narrative (Figure 12).
For the live broadcast, an outreach strategy was implemented. It was redirected by the hashtag #FiestaSuperViaje and a Twitter account was created to broadcast the party (Figure 13).
Likewise, fans who attended live were able to broadcast and upload the content to their personal Twitter accounts (Transcript 9). This led to complete immersion, which meant that for the duration of the party, fans were able to access content through multiple channels.
Transcript 9: (Responsable RR.SS. Zeppelin, 2020)
"A full concert was rebroadcast live, which was in turn happening in fiction on Movistar clips; with a live audience which in turn streamed on social media profiles; also the characters, with a certain plot and the End-Of-Year Instagram profile streaming it on their end”.
Following the analysis of the contents generated on social networks through the engagement of SKAM España fans and the series’ creators, the following conclusions, which attempt to respond to the objectives set out in the research, were made:
In response to how the creation of fan communities influences the consumption of fictional content, it is concluded that the creation of a community designed by and for teenagers makes it possible for fans to feel they are part of a fandom with like-minded people, who are going through the same identity and personality-shaping phases, as well as sharing interests, values and opinions. This contribution represents a social quality of the new generations. SKAM España fans found their place in the series thanks to their engagement on social networks, since adolescents seek their place in society through their different cultural practices.
As far as the analysis of interactive experiences that result from the consumption of fiction series by young adults, it is concluded that interactive storytelling enhance the active predisposition of the fandom and facilitate the creation of experiences that provide new possibilities for immersion in the content. SKAM España fans knew the rules of content distribution and of the narrative elements due to the interactive structures designed by the producers. At the same time, the adaptation of the content to teenagers’ routines in terms of time and space enhanced the predisposition to consume the series interactively and across different media. Therefore, interactive experiences must arise from adapting the content to the audience’s social configurations and habits and thus, the audience becomes more easily accustomed to the interactive process that is set for the consumption of the series.
As far as the creation of content by young adults during the process of immersion within the series, it must be pointed out that the creation of virtual environments favours the feedback of a constant narrative flow where the different elements are distributed and restructured through engagement. SKAM España’s virtual environments have enabled the merging of a fictional world and reality, making it possible to experience a fictionalized reality. The fandom was able to expand the narrative and create its own interactions through the virtual environments that were gradually woven. In this way, fans generated their own representations by manifesting their experiences through the narrative elements and complementing the series’ plots. Likewise, the creation of immersive experiences enhances the perception of content created in a personalized and exclusive way, deepening the commitment of consumers when it comes to providing feedback on the content. The live immersion that SKAM España designed when recreating the end-of-year party made it possible for fans to feel part of a personalized narrative where they needed nothing more than to act like themselves, because after all they were all living their own SKAM.
Therefore, the different interactions make it possible for fiction and reality to coexist simultaneously. SKAM España has enabled its viewers to access the fictional universe in a progressive manner through different degrees of immersion. The interaction does not mean losing sight of the different ways of telling stories, rather, it means generating experiences where fans can consume the content as close to reality as possible.
This research was based on the challenge of analysing the interactive practices that arise between fan communities and television content producers across different platforms and social networks. Having addressed it, we propose a series of contributions related to the theoretical concepts raised in the article so that they can function as a starting point for new research.
With reference to the concepts related to young adults’ fan culture across different media, the following observations have been compiled:
The creation of fan communities makes it possible for young adults to be included in a space where they feel comfortable expressing their opinions with the rest of the audience (Lacasa, 2020). These communities represent more than just a cultural phenomenon, since fandom constitutes a set of practices, groups, and motivations that encompass polarities between the personal and social commitment (Gray et al., 2017).
In addition, the establishment of shared values and the identification of fans as part of a group with like-minded interests makes young adults feel more committed to fictional content. In this sense, production companies increasingly create more and more specialized content in the fandom. These contents involve the audience more and encourage the creation of activities or immersive experiences. Production companies decide to launch this type of specialized content in fandom precisely because they trust that they will receive feedback from fans, which ensures that the story will not die in this type of experiences which require an active predisposition on behalf of the audience (Vázquez-Herrero, et al., 2019).
Therefore, the importance of fan communities when consuming fictional content lies in providing feedback on the story. Thanks to the creation of communities, young adults feel more engaged with the content and, thanks to this engagement, producers are able to generate experiences where fans will feel closer to the content, producing a bilateral commitment mediated by the cooperation between fan communities and production companies.
In relation to the concepts discussed on the role of social networks as opportunities for youth engagement, the following is proposed:
The use of certain platforms for the dissemination of content results in it getting closer to a young audience (García Jiménez et al., 2016). That is, the adaptation of the content to the media practices of adolescents makes it possible for the audience to identify with the narrative elements, which causes, in turn, greater immersion. This immersion favours content creation by the audience which covers topics related to their own experiences.
Therefore, the adaptation of fiction series to the sociocultural practices of adolescents makes it possible for them to feel greater freedom when it comes to consuming and generating content, resulting in constant feedback on the story.
In relation to the theoretical concepts addressed on the role of interaction as part of fiction consumption, the following has been established:
First, experiences occur at different levels of interaction depending on fandom commitment. Interaction levels, therefore, are neither correlative nor consecutive. Each given fiction content can contain different levels without the need to find an experience for each of them. Fan commitment, therefore, determines a series of interactive dynamics that favour the development of this type of experiences, sometimes pre-established by the producers and, on other occasions, generated by the fandom.
In addition, as mentioned above, interactive experiences create a greater connection with the content (Ryan, 2001), which makes it possible for realities to intermingle and for fans to experience a fictionalized reality in which the narrative elements are closer to their everyday life.
Therefore, the greater the commitment of the fandom, the more interactive the experiences will be and the higher their perceived immersion in the story, resulting in the viewers' experience itself becoming series content (Gretsova & Sibina, 2020).
In summary, through the analysis of the content generated in social networks by the interaction of SKAM España’s fans and the series’ creators, it is concluded that cooperation between fan communities and producers when consuming and creating content is essential to encourage audience engagement and immersion. In addition, this bilateral involvement, as well as the adaptation of the content to the sociocultural practices of young adults, will result in the development of experiences with different interactive levels where the fan experience itself turns into content.
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To cite this article
García-Vega, A., & De la Fuente Prieto, J. (2022). The creation of youth fiction content on social networks, Icono 14, 20 (1), https://doi.org/10.7195/ri14.v20i1.1764
Alba García Vega 1, Julián de la Fuente Prieto 2