It seems that "America's Watercooler" – Twitter – has decided to put its money where its tweets are. The social media giant has purchased Bluefin Labs, a company that measures and analyzes social media mentions of television. That's right – the watercooler is watching us.
Television has always been a social experience, long before social was a measured medium. But now that social is mainstream, it stands to reason that Twitter would want to gain insights into their symbiotic relationship with traditional media – and probably monetize it.
The fact that there are companies – not a company, but companies - that specialize in monitoring social media chatter about television should tell you something about the dominance of traditional television in our culture. After consulting with several digital research specialists, it turns out that television is the only category that has specialized social media tracking services just for a single industry.
So what does this suggest? Well, first and foremost, it indicates that Twitter certainly knows that television drives an awful lot of the social conversations in the digital space. During any big event (i.e., the Super Bowl, Oscars, Grammys, etc.), mentions of those events dominate social media outlets. Posts about standard content rise to the top as well, as noted by the latest Idol vote or perhaps a Bachelor or Bachelorette – or even a couple of Broke Girls.
The point is that Twitter understands that they – along with Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, etc., have become this generation's word-of-mouth conduit. Some of us of a certain age might recall the 1970s spot for Faberge Organics shampoo ("…and she told two friends, and so on, and so on…"). Twitter and their digital brethren automate that, exponentially.
So it makes sense that this would be information that Twitter would like to exploit. Their place within the social conversation can be much better legitimized with their own custom analytics.
Like the late 2012 Nielsen acquisition of SocialGuide, this is another strong indicator of the industry's desire to mine as much information about the viewer's engagement with a show as possible – along with their subsequent social influence in building an even larger audience. Could it be an indication of the new medium's dependence upon television?
Just think about how different Twitter would be without TV. It would probably be much more of a news feed – although quite a large percentage of tweets come from news that people have seen on TV, so that brings us right back to the start. Twitter just wouldn't be the same without TV.
We already know that television is the dominant medium of choice for audiences. These recent additions by Nielsen and Twitter underscore just how important people's online relationship with TV is as well.
Twitter, Facebook, Google+, et al – they are our mountaintop, our Midnight Ride, our watercooler.
The synergistic beauty of it is that Americans will never stop watching TV, and we will also never stop shouting about it. It's just the way we're all connected.
Don Seaman joined the TVB in January 2012 as Manager of Marketing Communications, where he is responsible for promoting and raising awareness of the TVB, and of Local Broadcast Television’s value propositions within the traditional and digital media industries. Don can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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