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Social TV: Tweets in Your Television

Social TV is becoming the new norm of experiencing your favorite television shows.
If you’ve noticed all those Tweets pop up on the screen during your favorite programs, you’re already well aware of the growing trend of what is now known as “Social TV.”
During my first stint at South by Southwest (SXSW), many of the panels I attended made mention of just how effective displaying social interactions during shows can be to increasing engagement on Twitter, and increasing popularity of a show in general.
One of the main factors of Social TV to take into consideration is just who it’s appealing to. Vision Critical conducted a survey in which 59% of high influence social users, such as myself, are the most likely to enjoy seeing the opinions of themselves and their peers appear during a show. The less active someone is on social networks, the less they enjoy seeing Tweets displayed on screen.

Social TV

Credit: Vision Critical

Displaying Tweets that enhance the story line of a show has a higher tendency to evoke emotions from viewers. For instance, one of the panelists at SXSW gave an example of when they were watching something and a Tweet was displayed that expressed sympathy to the on-screen talent’s family member who had been diagnosed with cancer. Moments like this give Social TV an upper hand in bringing viewers together in a way that the show itself may not be able to.
An even more effective way to boost viewership through Social TV is to feature Tweets from the actors during episode reruns (the most common occurrence of Social TV). Viewers will get an exclusive look at what was going on behind the scenes during the episode, and what their favorite characters were thinking.  Referring to the graph above, 48% of people watching feel these type of facts make a show more interesting. I can see how this could be the most popular way to utilize Social TV, even for people who aren’t high influence social users.  Wouldn’t you want to be the one to add something extra to the water cooler conversation when people are discussing the drama of last night’s episode? I would.
When you turn off the television and solely focus the conversation happening on Twitter, you’ll begin to recognize that the higher the amount of a show’s mentions results in a direct correlation to its popularity. These mentions have become so influential to the overall success of a show, Nielsen has created a rating system called Social Guide to rank shows weekly based on the conversation surrounding it on Twitter.
So imagine what would happen when a movie like “Sharknado” starts generating 5,000 Tweets per minute? People take the bait and decide to tune into the cheesy horror flick. You can see below how conversation on Twitter rapidly increased around the country leading up to the premiere, and by the time the movie aired for a third time, it was utilizing Social TV to display some of the best user Tweets on screen. The outcome in doing so produced a record-breaking viewership for an original SyFy with 2.1 million viewers!
Sharknado Tweets

Okay, so I haven’t seen “Sharknado”, but hearing how the social conversation and usage of Social TV led to such a colossal (and surprising) success of the movie, SyFy helped prove that Twitter and television are looking at a long and happy relationship.


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