What is Social TV?
Social TV is the act of using social media apps such as Twitter and Facebook on a ‘second screen’ namely a smart-phone or tablet, to comment on TV programs before, after or during the transmission.
In 2010 Social TV was named as one of the ten most important emerging technologies in the MIT Technology Review, the following year it was followed up by a report on Social TV analytics and how the information gathered can be utilised in marketing campaigns.
Social TV, especially the analytics side of it, is driven mainly by Twitter and the frequency of ‘Tweets’ before, during and after a television programme has finished.
Although other social media channels are incorporated, currently Tweets volumes are the metrics of choice when measuring the popularity and opinion of the programmes.
A ‘Second screen’ or ‘companion device’ refers to the smart-phone, or tablet that most people now usually have close by and ready to use whilst watching a TV programme.
Whilst watching the programme the viewer will check social media channels, mainly Twitter, to see what there friends or the celebrities they are following are saying about that programme, this leads to interaction which gives users a sense of community and common ground.
The transmitted data from all these Tweets is then gathered by a social media analytics company and then sold to marketing companies and television networks and used to gauge public and social opinion.
In 2011 a joint study with NM Incite & Nielson/McKinsey was carried out which showed that a couple of weeks before the airing of a new TV programme a 9% rise in social media activity resulted in a 1% rise in viewing figures for that programme, once the programme was established it took a 14% rise in social media activity to produce the same results.
The importance of these metrics are not only related to television programmes, but can be applied to wider social views in relation to political opinion, and social acceptance of programme content and viewpoints.
For example the political views of a news channel and how they sit with that channels demographic could be measured by the social activity related to that particular news story, or the announcement of a new policy by a government, and the reaction to it by that it’s citizens can be measured in real time by the opinions within the social activity it generates.
In fact the uses for the information gathered by social TV analytics are endless, and could potentially become the most important source of real time social viewpoint available.
The demographic of TV viewers that would bother to tweet/comment about a programme they are watching tends to be between 18-34, this obviously limits the validity of mass opinion but is wide enough spectrum to make the results valid, especially for most TV channels who’s target audience is probably around this demographic anyway.
The future of Social TV
There is no doubt that the next big player in Social TV interaction and Social TV analytics will be Facebook.
A joint study by Nielsen for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing in September 2012, found that Facebook out of all social media channels had had the greatest influence when determining whether someone would watch a particular TV programme.
Facebook is rumoured to be planning various ways of getting in on the Social TV market.
The big players
The recent acquisition of Bluefin Labs by Twitter for $70mil, and the acquisition of SocialGuide by Nielson & NM Incite, both Social Media analytics companies proves that Social TV is growing more important by the week, and for good reason.
The ability to serve targeted advertisements during specific proven social interaction ‘hot-spots’ during a TV show or live event, will enable marketing companies and TV Networks to increase their ROI quite significantly, making Social TV Analytic data a valuable commodity.
You can find out more about Social Television and supporting technologies at http://www.social-tv.co.uk