Why Social TV Needs Measurability

07/06/12

Do those 10 million tweets about MTV’s Video Music Awards matter? Or would 20 million tweets be the mark of success?

The TV industry is awash with seminars, workshops and white papers claiming ‘social TV’ as the next frontier.

But amid all of the excitement, reliable benchmarking to measure success seems to be notably lacking.

What happens, for example, if the Twitter ‘engagement’ during a show results in a flood of negative comments about how much everyone hates an American Idol contestant or a drama’s lead character? Will that translate into more viewers, or will that negativity contribute to an audience decline by the 3rd episode?

Current measures focus only on volumes, but an important point that’s often overlooked is that the number of viewers participating in social TV behaviour is still proportionally small.

For example, the American season premiere of HBO’s Game of Thrones crashed TV check-in service GetGlue with 90,000 check-ins. But when you consider that the episode had 3.9 million viewers, it’s clear that this isn’t mainstream behaviour.

Who are the Influencers?

One of the key elements of smart social TV strategy must be identifying whose opinion actually matters.

It’s likely that the audience who tweets about your show isn’t representative of the whole. But despite this, some could be influential; building a relationship with these 'super fans' could be crucial to making social TV campaigns successful.

Equally, those sharing could be part of an unrepresentative minority. This knowledge could make the difference between knowing when to cut the character that’s killing the show, and knowing when to ignore the vocal few.

Making Sense of the Data

The internet’s back-channel has delivered incredibly accurate, granular reporting on the behaviour of audiences interacting with services. But measurement is not enough; analysing raw data - identifying trends and behaviours and tailoring activity -often in combination with traditional editorial methods - is key.

Successful web businesses have been built on analytics; successful social media integration for TV needs to do the same. It must look beyond the simple flood of ‘tweets’, or ‘likes’ to the qualitative data that can make digital campaigns so powerful Often, it’s about asking the right questions and not being flattered by the volume of attention. Does your group fit a specific profile? If so, you could leverage relationships with advertisers to reach certain niche groups online – maybe those who talk about Game of Thrones also talk about video games, and are primed for the launch Max Payne 3.

But without smartly filtering and interpreting the data, it’s impossible to know where your audience’s strengths lie.

Where’s the ROI?

Last year I asked if there was any money in social TV. Nearly one year later, and we are looking at a market that is getting more cluttered, but still lacks credible measurability.

What do you think? What is the best way to measure the success of a social TV campaign? What key stats should we benchmark?

Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Emma Wells, Marketing Manager