TV and Twitter: Why we’re tweeting like crazy about television, and what this means for marketers


Television and Twitter seem to belong together like Pimms and lemonade – but how exactly does that chemistry work? Jugdev Ghai, Digital Associate Director at Carat, takes a look at some intriguing new findings from Nielsen.

Jugdev Ghai Digital Associate Director Carat television social media tech trends

The dual-screen phenomenon is relatively new – and there is now a wave of research being conducted around this trend.

 Back in 2012 – a long time ago in digital – a Deloitte study identified the second screen, looking at how people use their smartphone while watching television, interacting with like-minded individuals from multiple geographic locations in real time.

Now Nielsen Social have taken that research further.

They tested how respondents use Twitter to convey their raw and undiluted thoughts about television, and whether the chatter is limited to certain points within particular programming.

The study reviewed 113 programme seasons, between September 2014 and May 2015.

These are the key findings:

  1. Although there are many individuals that interact with a programme via their second screen, Nielsen found another group that tend to contribute on an ad hoc basis. It has therefore been recommended that marketing directors examine the opportunity of converting the ad hoc/new authors that “join the conversation over the course of a season into loyal programme authors”.
  2. Loyal individuals are also of value. It has been suggested that their social allegiance was up to three times higher if compared with those that did not meet the “loyalty criteria”. Thus, there is value in engaging with this audience category in order to accentuate programme-related buzz or social interaction
  3. Signature programme moments such as premieres, finales and other high engagement episodes, elicit a higher rate of participation on Twitter. The opportunity here would be to uplift paid social strategies in synch with these time slots.

Neurology and Engagement

Our brains react to marketing in milliseconds. The connection is prevalent in our subconscious mind before we become conscious of it. There is a correlation (79.5%) between Twitter, TV and neurological engagement. It has been suggested that emotion, memory and attention are the key neuro metrics tied to Twitter and TV activity. 

  • Signals that that the programme content is engaging viewers through multiple psychological processes
  • Combination of the three neurometrics is correlated with sales outcomes and ad testing
  • Ads perform better on memorability in TV programmes with high programme engagement
  • Thus, advertising in highly social programmes could be an opportunity to drive both ad memorability and sales outcomes

What does this mean for marketers?

We can suggest that there has been a significant increase in social conversation on Twitter during live programming. Many people are tweeting excessively about their favourite TV programming. The participant group in question can be broadly categorised as loyal viewers or those that utilise their second screen on an ad hoc basis - both of are of value from a marketing perspective.

There are two predominant methods of advertising on Twitter’s platform: promoted accounts, which help drive new followers for a given Twitter handle, and promoted tweets that encompass other objectives such as link clicks, favourites or retweets. Twitter has also unveiled several new features for advertisers to go beyond the audience platform to amplify tweet engagement and video views. 

The frequency of which one contributes is relevant and shapes the targeting approach that should be taken to convey a message. The process of engagement is embedded in neurology; it has been suggested that the subliminal mind of the participant is key in eliciting responses and actions. This leads us down a highly scientific route of targeting.

It should also be noted that engagement has expanded on other social networks such as Facebook and Google – but that’s a subject for another time...

Jugdev Ghai Digital Associate Director Carat television social media tech trends
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