Stir the Social TV Conversation, but Not Too Much

Publish date:
Social count:

New York — Networks can juice their TV
ratings and keep a show’s super-fans engaged
through a deft use of social media — but the
efforts can backfire if they’re out of sync with
the Facebook and Twitter crowd.

That was one insight from speakers on the
“Second-Screen Sizzle: TV & Social Media”
panel at the “TV in a Multiplatform World”
event here.

“Your audience doesn’t want to hear from
you every hour — maybe a few times a day, or
during a live event,” said Marc DeBevoise, CBS
Interactive senior vice president and general
manager of entertainment.

CBS last fall held a Tweet Week and a Social
Sweep Week, with talent from each of its
shows hosting social chats every night. Social
engagement increased across all the shows.
But because the campaign involved up to a
dozen posts per day, “we had people unfriend
or unfollow us,” DeBevoise said.

DeBevoise cited a study by
Nielsen and NM Incite that found
social media activity about a TV
show corresponds to its ratings.

“The causation is hard to prove,
but the correlation [between social
activity and higher ratings]
is something we can,” DeBevoise
said. “As long as that connection
is happening, we’re better off .”

Jesse Redniss, USA Network senior vice
president of digital, said it’s important to “let
people pick and choose” how to engage with
social media, so they don’t get overloaded.
USA launched a social campaign heading
into the seventh season of Psych, which has an
active social fan base, and the result of getting
people talking about the show led to a 10% increase
in live ratings.

But heavy social engagement does not always
map to ratings. The CW’s
Vampire Diaries is one of the
most actively discussed TV
shows on Twitter, equivalent to
a show that has 10 million viewers,
but does not put up ratings
numbers anywhere near that,
according to Rick Haskins, the
network’s executive vice president
of marketing and digital

“I do scratch my head when Nielsen says
I have 1.8 million people watching and we
have 10 million following it on Twitter —
there’s something wrong with that equation,”
Haskins said.