A few weeks back, we blogged about the groundbreaking, game-changing digital advertising partnerships that Twitter recently entered into with a pair of big-time brands in the NFL and CBS.
Last week, the endearing, entertaining and ever-popular micro-blogging social network kicked off yet another TV-related innovation, this one in partnership with another iconic American brand:
The official announcement of the Twitter TV ratings actually came last year, from Nielsen, with the stated goal of this new ratings system being “to provide a look at real-time social activity during programming, so networks can provide tailored interactive experiences and better engage with their viewers.”
While there has already been considerable data on social media activity and TV-related subjects collected, studied and distributed to date, Nielsen claims that what is new and different with its Twitter TV Ratings system is the determination of “reach” – i.e. the unique audience/impressions. Nielsen also notes that Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are a separate set of metrics from its traditional National TV Ratings. They do not factor into or change those traditional National TV Ratings at all.
The long-revered research firm added that its Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings are available across more than 215 English-language U.S. broadcast and cable networks, and they are currently working with Twitter to accurately measure and report Spanish-language networks as well. Nielsen even created a dedicated division for measuring Twitter chatter, purchasing analytics firm SocialGuide towards the end of last year, and revamping and reshaping it in the months since.
In short, the new ratings system works like this:
The system tracks the number of Tweets about a particular TV episode, and the number of people posting about it, as well as the number of times those Tweets were seen – and by how many accounts. Live sporting events are excluded from the ratings system.
The resultant Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings rank shows according to the “unique audience” of Twitter users who have been exposed to at least one Tweet about a program. It also identifies the number of Tweets associated with a particular episode.
When the first Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings findings were made public, it was an ABC program, “Scandal,” which ranked atop the list for the week of Sept. 30 to Oct. 6, 2013. The episode of the political thriller where the name of the President’s mistress was leaked attracted 10.5 million TV viewers – and generated nearly 713,000 Tweets, which reached a Twitter audience of some 3.7 million. This probably had something to do with the innovative and interactive approach to Twitter users employed by the show and its cast, including breakout star Kerry Washington.
Coming in second in the inaugural Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings was the MTV documentary on Miley Cyrus called, “Miley: The Movement,” which sparked around 142,000 Tweets that reached a Twitter audience of just under 3.2 million. Third place belonged to a traditional NBC standard, “Saturday Night Live,” which generated close to 176,000 Tweets that reached a Twitter audience of around 3.15 million. It probably wasn’t a coincidence that this particular episode of “SNL” was hosted by none other than…
Of course, the next question here is something along the lines of:
“Well, what does all that really mean?”
The answer, like many things, depends on just who you ask.
Some, like Defamer blog author Beejoli Shah, apparently think the Twitter TV Ratings really mean nothing at all, calling the new metric “a total scam” in a scathing blog post. Then again, this is more or less what Defamer and its authors (along with many other bloggers out there) do for a living and for sport – tear nearly anything and everything under the sun to shreds. The site is, after all, called “Defamer.”
Others, like SocialGuide chief executive Andrew Somosi, hail the debut of Twitter TV Ratings as, “a credibility-building moment for the industry” in an interview with The New York Times. Of course, Somosi is on the payroll, so his favorable opinion is as predictable and expected as Shah’s angry attack, if not more.
The New York Times story makes a very good point that lies somewhere in the middle of these two opinions, stating, “More generally, skepticism abounds about how representative Twitter chatter is – or isn’t.” It goes on to cite research by market research firm The Keller Fay Group that reveals a whopping 80% of conversations about television shows happen in person, with another 10% taking place over the phone. “Most of the remaining 10%” of those TV conversations is said to occur online.
Just what kind of response and traction the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings receive from viewers, advertisers, networks and social media users alike remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure – Twitter continues to gain ground in the collective consciousness of America. And many grand plans are in place to continue to merge Twitter with the universal, undying power of television. Just in time for the company’s impending IPO, too.
(In case you’re wondering, Twitter announced yesterday that it will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “TWTR.”)
There’s surely never been a better time than now for you and your brand to be actively using Twitter. From growing your business to securing and qualifying new leads to delivering gratifying, real-time customer service, Twitter can serve a wide range of needs for your company, right now. You don’t even need to be ranked in The Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings. Or considered a “trending topic.” In fact, you don’t even need to have #hashtags in place. You can still reap a range of benefits from getting on, and staying active on, the expansive, interactive platform that is Twitter – right now. Especially with around 200 million average monthly active Twitter users out there today.
To learn how to jump right into Twitter and get your brand flying high in no time, download our FREE ebook by clicking this link. You can also follow Fang Digital on Twitter right now. And be sure to check back here at the official blog of Fang Digital each and every week. We regularly cover many topics related to Twitter, along with other social media news, tips and insights.