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Nielsen: Social programme engagement matters

Today’s TV audiences often use social media while watching live series, with many authors gathering on Twitter each week while viewing. According to research from Nielsen, Tweets sent during live airings, which make up the majority of weekly series programme Tweets, could affect more than just those tuning in live. They also lead to valuable promotional impressions for networks looking to build viewership later in the week through on-demand, DVR, or streaming.

So what share of Twitter impressions (total number of times Tweets are seen) for TV programmes are coming from live Tweeting, as opposed to Tweeting throughout the rest of the week?

To find out, Nielsen looked at TV-related Tweets and impressions for 96 weekly series programmes this autumn. Nielsen now measures Twitter TV activity on a 24/7 basis in addition to its core linear measurement, which enabled us to measure Tweets and the number of times those Tweets were seen (impressions) during live airings and at times when programmes weren’t airing live. 57 per cent of weekly Twitter impressions for series, on average, are from Tweets sent during live #SocialTV @NielsenSocial

The study found that on average 57 per cent of weekly impressions come from users seeing Tweets related to live airings. In other words, posts on Twitter related to a single live telecast (e.g., a one-hour or 30-minute episode) led to more than half of the weekly Twitter impressions for series programs. But viewers use Twitter differently depending on the genre. For drama and reality programmes, live impressions jump to 58 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively. Meanwhile, comedies see just 49 per cent of weekly impressions from live, suggesting that mentions when a programme is not airing live could have more impact for the genre.

The study also found that the audience reached by live programme conversation sees twice as many Tweets, on average, compared to the audience reached by Tweets sent during times without a live airing. With the frequency of social impressions increasing during live airings, this could be an impactful time to promote and cross-promote programs through social media.

As TV audiences on Twitter see multiple programme-related Tweets, their posting behaviour may also change. A separate Nielsen study analyzed Twitter TV activity during the 2014-2015 Broadcast TV season and found that two notable shifts take place during live series airings.

First, the nature of conversation shifts. On days without a live programme airing, just a third (33 per cent) of comments are sent in response to programme content. During live airings, in addition to conversation volumes spiking, the share of comments sent in response to programming jumps to nearly two-thirds (65 per cent). In fact, Twitter activity during live airings is so closely related to on-screen moments and stories that it was found to be indicative of the engagement of the general viewing audience.

Looking beyond those Tweets sent in response to on-screen content, the remaining share of programme-related Tweets tend to reference a programme’s brand and/or express excitement ahead of upcoming episodes. These general programme mentions account for more than two-thirds of programme Tweets on days without a live airing.

As networks invest in programme promotions ahead of new series, seasons or episodes, evaluating Twitter programme buzz on a 24/7 basis could serve as an additional signal of programme awareness.

Second, the number of Tweets posted per author increases. Nielsen found that, on average across programmes, authors that Tweet about live airings send twice as many Tweets as those authors that only Tweet when a programme is not airing live. Some live-Tweeting authors also Tweet on days without a live airing. These highly social fans make up 8 per cent of weekly programme authors and send five times as many Tweets per author during live airings compared to authors who only Tweet when programs are not airing live.

Perhaps most importantly, these findings suggest the potential to engage with different types of authors, based on when and how they Tweet about programming. For instance, different messaging could reach authors who Tweet when a programme is not airing live, those who Tweet during live episodes and those who Tweet throughout both periods.

In summary, the unique aspects of live and non-live Twitter TV behaviour present four key opportunities for networks, agencies and advertisers, who can utilise these findings to maximize the impact of their programming and promotions strategies:
(1) Twitter TV activity during live airings drives the majority of valuable promotional impressions for weekly series programs.
(2) Audiences see Tweets with higher frequency during live airings, suggesting that this could be a powerful time to promote and cross-promote programs through social media.
(3) Live Twitter activity serves as a measure of content response and general audience engagement. By contrast, when programs are not airing live, programme buzz becomes a signal of programme awareness on social media and can be used to evaluate how effectively promotions are generating buzz.
(4) As networks look to drive engagement and viewership through promotional strategies on Twitter, they can reach unique segments of programme authors based on when and how each group Tweets about programming.

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