Facebook released the hashtag feature to make live TV interaction easier, Twitter announced Twitter Amplify, and Nielsen reports that social TV use is growing.
Nielsen released a report today showing that second screen usage is increasing among mobile device users, and this is partly responsible for the increase in social TV popularity. Though the Nielsen report conflicts with an earlier Council of Research Excellence (CRE) study that says social media usage has little effect on viewers' decisions, the conflict didn't stop Facebook from following Twitter's social TV lead when Facebook rolled out the hashtag feature last week. Twitter has an obvious lead over Facebook, and the Nielsen numbers back up that fact.
Twitter’s social TV success
Twitter led the way to social TV as early as May 2012, when the company announced its partnership with ESPN, providing the popular sports network with its now renamed Twitter Amplify sponsorship program that features videos. Twitter launched #Twitter4Brands later the same month at Internet Week New York 2012.
Twitter also recently launched a social TV first - the company’s interactive advertising that allows advertisers to promote tweets based on ads that Twitter users have seen on television, a Lost Remote report states.
Twitter reported in an announcement last month that Bluefin Labs found that “95 percent of live TV conversation happens on Twitter,” while a little over 50 percent of commercials aired during the Super Bowl contained hashtags. Twitter also states that “you can’t turn on the news without hearing a Tweet referenced.”
In fact, MSNB routinely interacts with viewers via Twitter. White House correspondent Chuck Todd of MSNBC’s Daily Rundown poses a question on the show to viewers. The first viewer to answer correctly via Twitter receives a “follow back” from the show.
Other shows and channels such as SyFy'sFace Off, hosted by McKenzie Westmore, and Animal Planet's River Monsters, hosted by Jeremy Wade, routinely utilize Twitter during air time as well. Both shows offer extra content to viewers using Twitter and mobile devices, some of which includes behind the scenes clips and interviews with the hosts.
Facebook follows Twitter’s lead
As early as March of this year, Facebook promised it would offer users the hashtag feature so they can search easier, as this Digital Journalist reports. The official roll out came on June 13 when Facebook announced the feature and citing a Nielsen study that shows 29 percent of television viewers post to Facebook while viewing.
Facebook said the hashtag feature would help users “discover shared interests on Facebook.” Facebook also notes that the company will roll out even more features, all of which are aimed at Facebook search users and social TV advertisers. While Facebook is at an obvious disadvantage since it entered the social TV game so late, the company's advertising experience may allow it to catch up to Twitter faster than anyone expects is possible.
Nielsen reports increased social media connection
It should come as no surprise that today’s Nielsen announcement states that social TV use is increasing. More specifically, mobile users are connecting their “devices as second screens while watching TV every day,” and that about half of tablet PC users are watching television to “look up information about what they’re watching.”
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The report concludes that about 53 percent of connected tablet PC users and 52 percent of smartphone users visited and engaged with social networks while watching television. Another 13 percent read discussions and 13 percent posted a discussion about the show they were watching while engaging in the social network. Nielsen also reports that 15 percent of tablet PC users and some smartphone users watched a specific program because of something they read on a social media network.
These findings conflict with the CRE Talking Social TV study that shows that social TV advertising isn’t nearly as well received as advertisers would like to think it is, according to aVenture Beat, report.
The report also states that CRE found only six percent of users engaged with new television shows because of something they saw on social media. Both Nielsen and CRE found that mobile users are engaging with social media to talk about television while their favorite programs are on, and while others are watching with them.
When Nielsen purchased SocialGraph, a company dealing in social TV metrics, in November 2012, Nielsen stated that doing so would allow television networks to, “engage with the social fan base in real time,” says a Forbes report. Social TV analytics will help discover what, if any, effect advertisers will see because of social TV.