In a recent blog post I discussed new, in depth research for the CRE (Council for Research Excellence) on the topic of social media and television. The headline finding from that piece was that consumer interaction with social media in relation to television viewing is relatively modest compared to other forms of communication and lags behind other online media, TV promotions and, especially, offline communication. Only 12% of respondents use social media one or more times per day when it comes to primetime TV – posting, reading posts, or hearing about posts; and only 1.5% of people say they are influenced to watch a particular prime time show because of social media.
A second phase of analysis from that research was recently released, and reveals another important insight for TV marketers: Social media plays a significantly different role depending on whether people are repeat viewers of a program (i.e., those who watch regularly or occasionally) vs. those who watch infrequently (including non-viewers).
Social TV Plays a More Important Role With Repeat Viewers
More specifically, social media has a much higher impact on drawing the so-called “repeaters” to watch more episodes than it does in recruiting “infrequents” to become viewers.
For the regular viewers of a program, there are three factors that are all strongly associated with increasing the probability of viewing a particular program. The first of these is “digital 1 to 1,” which includes text, instant message, and emails – private communications mainly between two people. The second of these is social media — Twitter, Facebook, GetGlue, etc. And the third factor is offline word of mouth conversations.
When it comes to drawing infrequent or non-viewers to watch a program, a very different pattern emerges. Offline word of mouth is more than 5 times stronger than any other stimuli in converting essentially a non-viewer to being a viewer. The impact of social media and digital 1 to 1 is quite low indeed, almost zero. TV promos are stronger than the digital stimuli.
The statistical modeling that is the basis for these findings was developed by Professors Pete Fader of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Mitch Lovett of the Simon School of Business at the University of Rochester, and Renana Peres of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. The goal of their work was to identify the factors that increase the probability of a particular show being watched — and to understand the role played by social media versus other touchpoints such as exposure to on air promos, off air commercial, offline word of mouth, texting or IM’ing, and anything else that might drive a person to tune in to a show. For those readers who are statistically inclined, the model they built was what is called a “Choice Model using Bayesian Multiple Imputation.”
Their analysis was based on the integration of numerous data sets and the development of statistical modeling to explore the effect of social media usage on TV viewing. The study included new, primary research commissioned by the CRE and undertaken by the Keller Fay Group that investigated more than a hundred thousand observations of airings and marketing touch points across 1700 respondents. It also integrated Nielsen data on TV promos (data drawn from Nielsen’s AdViews) as well as program airings data assembled by Bluefin, and ethnographic data collected for the CRE by Nielsen Life360. Altogether, the analysis was based on more than 3 million pieces of data. In other words, it was a massive amount of data that was fed into the model.
Implications for TV Marketing
There are important implications of this work for TV marketers and researchers who are actively deploying social media strategies into their marketing mix. As Beth Rockwood, Senior Vice President, Marketing Resources at Discovery Communications and Chair of the CRE’s Social Media Committee observed, “these latest findings suggest social media may have a stronger role in building relationships with a show for existing viewers than in drawing new viewers to the show. If programmers already have a regular viewer watching their show, they can engage them further.”
The CRE will host a webinar later this summer addressing the findings in greater detail, and sign up will be available at the CRE homepage.
Ed Keller, CEO of the Keller Fay Group, has been called "one of the most recognized names in word of mouth." His new book, The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace, was recently published by Free Press/Simon & Schuster. You can follow Ed Keller on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, or contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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