As viewers stray from the traditional way to watch television, it has forced networks to adapt. But instead of dreading the change, many content creators have actually encouraged people to get more involved using social media. Hashtags have made Twitter a popular platform to integrate into programming, but this week Comedy Central is integrating itself into Twitter.

The New York Times reported that the TV network will host a five-day comedy festival that will take place almost entirely on Twitter. On Tuesday, comedian Steve Agee will kick things off with a “Vine Dining” party where he will tell stories in six-second videos. Comedic legends like Carl Reiner, Amy Schumer, and others will take to Twitter to share jokes in tweets (using the #ComedyFest hashtag) in addition to sharing videos on Vine.

For Comedy Central, the blending of new and old media is a small part of a bigger strategy to integrate more digital interaction with its programming. “One of those days we will be ambivalent about where people watch Comedy Central,” Steve Grimes, the channel’s senior vice president for programming and multi platform strategy told the Times.

As early as next month, Comedy Central will introduce a free, ad-supported app called CC: Stand-Up. The app is designed to look and feel like a cable television channel devoted to stand-up. Not only will it provide videos of comedians performing routines, but it will also use a recommendation algorithm (similar to that used by Amazon) to help viewers discover new comedians.

This is just one example of how television networks are utilizing social media to retain fans who are leaving the traditional television experience behind. As more people continue to adopt web streaming over standalone TV sets, it’ll become increasingly more important for networks and advertisers to follow. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to launch web-only events, but you should start thinking about how you can incorporate social media (beyond the hashtag) into your programming.

[Via: The New York Times, Image credit: Douglas Pimentel]