You could file what I’m about to say under “Things I Already Knew,” but bear with me.
The news earlier this week that there’s a strong correlation between Twitter discussion about a certain program, and TV ratings, isn’t just about the kneejerk knowledge we all have that the tweetstream goes nutzoid during big TV events in a way that the big F – Facebook – does not. What I like about this study – conducted by SocialGuide and Nielsen – was the statistical meat on the bones.
The study ranked Twitter as “one of three statistically significant variables” that show a clear correlation to TV ratings.
Yes, it came in third, but the other two variables that made the short list – ad spend and the previous season’s TV ratings – are more closely aligned to the actual program that’s being studied. Make no mistake; this is a signature moment in proving the ROI of social and live events.
So, here are the Twitter stats:
During the premiere of a show, a 1% rating increase among 18- to 34-year-olds correlates with an 8.5% bump in Twitter volume. There’s also 1% ratings growth when Twitter volume goes up by 14% among 35- to 49-year-olds. During midseason airings of shows, smaller bumps in volume correlate with a 1% ratings bump.
Now, as I said above, it’s true that in your gut, you knew this. But consider this data in terms of social’s search for ROI, and particularly of Facebook. Twitter has about half the users that Facebook has, and yet, no one is taking such a serious look at the correlation between Facebook buzz and TV ratings. And, as much as I’ve (deservedly!) disparaged the lemmings-like approach the ad business took in the aftermath of Oreo’s SuperTweet, there is real money for Twitter to make in TV-associated real time, because there’s true context, and the causality to back ad buys up.
Case in point: This week, I was walking someone through Twitter’s different ad products, and noticed on Monday that #BatesMotel – for the series that debuted that night on A&E– had been bought as a Promoted Trend. The next day, after the show had aired, it had successfully jumped the firewall from Promoted Trend to earned Trending Topic. In other words, A&E had found the Holy Grail of the Promoted Trend .
The premiere, not at all incidentally, set a ratings record for A&E.
Now, I’m not suggesting that buying #BatesMotel is what caused the ratings to come in so strong. It’s hard, as an outsider, to tease out how all of marketing components for this show – paid, owned and earned – affected the ratings outcome. But. if you’re a buyer for a TV show, and you see scenarios like this playing out, and now you see data backing up the tight relationship between Twitter volume and ratings, are you going to take the chance of not buying Twitter as part of your advertising? Does Facebook have a comparable ace-in-the-hole?
No. Which makes the following question kind of obvious: Is it any wonder that Facebook reportedly is planning to get into the hashtag business, and, maybe, the “reply” business, to stimulate conversation on the platform?
No, it is not.