Friend A: Did You See ‘The X Factor’ Last Night? Friend B: No, But I Saw Your Tweets About It

October 3, 2012 // By: // No Comments

Social & Digital Media     

Shortly after 9:15 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 23rd, OMG Tracy Morgan became a worldwide trending topic on #Twitter.

The trend started after Jimmy Kimmel, host of the 2012 Primetime Emmy Awards, encouraged viewers to send tweets and Facebook posts about Morgan passing out onstage during the telecast (don’t worry, he didn’t really). More than 25,000 tweets later, Kimmel’s mission was accomplished…at least in part.

Nearly half of Americans watch TV while they’re on their laptops, smartphones or tablets. But who’s to say the actions taken on these devices relate to the content viewed on the first screen? In this era of social TV, 77% of social media users tweet to tell friends/family what they’re watching. Another 68% send rescue tweets to network big wigs in an attempt to keep their favorite shows on the air (The Social Skinny).

 One of the most stunning revelations about social TV is that, often times, shows with lower ratings actually index higher in social mentions. Take MTV’s 2012 Video Music Awards, for example. While the 2011 broadcast remains the most-watched single telecast in the network’s history, the 2012 event actually scored much higher on social media. The 2012 VMAs earned more than 19MM social mentions en route to becoming the biggest social TV event of all time, excluding political events (Trendrr). And that was in spite of a huge dip in the ratings.

 A current example of social chatter vs. ratings can be studied in the budding reality TV war between The Voice and The X Factor. On Wednesday night of premiere week, The Voice helped NBC take down Fox in the ratings, but social media users still preferred Britney to Christina. More than one million social comments about The X Factor’s premiere proved it, making it the most social TV season premiere ever (Bluefin Labs).

 With many shows yet to make their Fall 2012 debut, it will be interesting to see if The X Factor can hold on to its social title. For a look at likely competitors, check out this list of social TV highlights from the 2011-2012 season.

What Social TV Means For Brand Marketers

But how can brand marketers leverage this evolving and increasingly complementary relationship between TV and social media? Beyond obvious ad placements and sponsorships of the most socially relevant programming, brands have a unique opportunity to influence the conversations taking place about and during these shows. Find topical show elements that relate to your brand or product – and that you have a stake in – and facilitate conversations about these subjects/shows on branded social channels. In this case, you know the topic is powerful and that the desire to discuss exists, so you’re simply providing a venue to house the conversation.

In the same way that viewers are anxious to discuss the shows they love via social media, they’re talking about their favorite brands on those same platforms. The question for network executives and intrigued brand marketers is simple: what’s worth more, physical eyeballs or digital endorsements? In most cases, the answer isn’t either; it’s both. The best strategies support one via the other. Have a great product that people buy but aren’t talking about on social media yet? Give them something to talk about (hash tags, on-pack social media messaging) and a place to do it. On the other hand, if you have strong digital buzz but aren’t seeing the needle move just yet, utilize a mix of paid, owned and earned media to help amplify those social media endorsements. Make sure they are being received by your target publics.

About the Author

Michael Lamp

As Hunter PR’s Senior Social & Digital Media Strategist, Michael manages an array of projects including Twitter parties, Facebook brand pages, mobile apps, blogger relations and live-streaming video.
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