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Sci Fi Tries Out Twitter

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NEW YORK NBC Universal's Sci Fi Channel is trying out Twitter to build buzz for its new program, Eureka.
 
NBCU shop Fallon has set up a Twitter account in the persona of S.A.R.A.H., an artificially intelligent, talking house that plays a central role in the series. For the past two weeks, S.A.R.A.H. has been behaving like other users of the service, which is a cross between instant messaging and blogging (www.twitter.com/_s_a_r_a_h_).
 
The account is a way to connect with viewers of the show to build greater attachment to the characters, said Mary Duncan, group media director at Fallon in Minneapolis.
 
"It's a whole different type of relationship we're building," she said. "For a loyal viewer, this is us reaching our hand out and saying thank you and giving them a little more."
 
Twitter use has been growing fast, although it's audience is still small. According to Quantcast, Twitter.com attracts about 734,000 U.S. visitors. Since many use the site through other applications, the number of users is likely higher.
 
A little over 1,000 users get S.A.R.A.H.'s updates on Twitter. Sci Fi and Fallon will continue updating through the eight episodes of the season.
 
The S.A.R.A.H. Twitter updates, which range from banter with followers to teases of upcoming episodes, are to build a connection with fans of Eureka, which began its third season yesterday. The show chronicles a town of geniuses that work on top-secret government projects. Leading up to the premiere, S.A.R.A.H. dropped hints of things to come, such as mentioning how she was "helping Zoe get ready for work." The character Zoe's new job was a plot line in the episode.
 
Fallon suggested the use of Twitter as a way to appeal to tech-savvy early adopters who tend to make up a large portion of the audience for science-fiction programming. To attract a following, the character needed to do more than just promote the show, said Marty Wetherall, senior producer at Fallon.
 
"It just defeats the whole purpose," he said. "There's no dialogue and personal relationship there."
 
Sci Fi and Fallon employees have assumed the voice of the character in posts, interacting with fans and updating from three to seven times per day. In the bio section of S.A.R.A.H.'s Twitter page, it lists "self-actuated residential automated habitat."

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