Social Nielsen?

April 9, 2013

Lori Lewis often gets the question about whether bursts in social media activity can actually translate to ratings.  Here’s her “take” on new data that’s all about that relationship and what it might mean for radio. – FJ

A recent study from Nielsen compiled with SocialGuide reports a “statistically significant relationship” between Twitter activity and television ratings – especially among younger demographics.

The research shows that last fall, an 8.5% rise in Twitter activity equated to a 1% jump in ratings among 18-34s.  For older viewers, a higher level of tweeting was necessary in order to move the ratings needle.

So does social really drive ratings?

Fred messaged with Stephen Clark, the lead anchor at WXYZ-TV/Detroit and founder of The Backchannel hashtag on Twitter.  He asked Stephen about the network of active viewers he has assembled on Twitter: Have ratings gone up for their news programs since the success of his #Backchannel tribe?

Clark noted that while causality isn’t always clear, there’s something going on.

They have found that since The Backchannel was begun, second (and third) screen usage is up during his newscasts, and the numbers of Twitter thank-you’s that he dutifully fires off at the end of each night has grown to about 100.

And there are also Twitter exchanges that happen regularly like this one:

Aside from the obvious outcome of this exchange, note that Clark always offers timely, direct acknowledgement and “customer service” on Twitter.  That’s a big part of his social success.

If Clark, a very busy, high profile local TV personality with commitments beyond work, takes the time to acknowledge each and everyone of his #Backchannel followers, it should be a message to anyone on the air who claims they don’t have time to respond to fans socially.

The Nielsen research study, along with this Backchannel “case study,” is simply a reminder that radio can derive value from social – but only when trust is built.

We are not entitled to a social fan base.

We may have remarkable traditional brands that fans come to every day and even participate with – but when it comes to having believability in the social space – you can’t force trust.

This issue of the “second screen” for TV and a more engaged audience might have application for radio.  We have some data coming back from Techsurvey9 that is designed to measure audience interest in real-time participation in social while fans listen to radio shows.

But if social is going to correlate to higher ratings for your radio station, genuine effort is required.  Fans will not automatically participate with us socially the way we want them to just because they listen to our radio stations.

Social is personal for them – the last thing they think about when they fire up Facebook or any social platform is to interface with brands.

But when brands consistently play to their passions, emulate their language, and acknowledge them when they speak, they are likelier to be more interested in you socially.

There are steps involved in putting a social fan base in place, just like Stephen Clark has done here in Detroit – and when executed properly – you will find this base of fans more active and engaged than perhaps the passivity you see in your email marketing database. It’s because these are chatty folks who love to voice their opinions and point their friends in directions where they find value.

Evaluate your social assets and behavior.  Are you present or phoning it in?

Allow this space to not be just about your brand but an indirect path to your brand that fully involves the fans.

One last note:

Check out the great video where Stephen Clark walks you through The Backchannel.



And we are also putting together our Summer School 4 lineup for Conclave in July.  Two of our featured “guest lecturers” are the heads of social media for the Mall of America, Bridget Jewell, and for Target, Joe Curry. They will show us how their amazing brands interface with fans, solves problems, and makes it a point to acknowledge everyone.  We hope you can make it to Minneapolis in July.  Click here for the registration link.


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2 Responses to Social Nielsen?

  1. Dave Presher on June 13, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    Lori you are so smart about Social and Broadcast I enjoy reading your blogs and your blog today. I have worked with both successful Radio and Television digital plays. When it comes to both I think the very first thing I tell somebody is to think about context so that each of your mediums is complimentary. So Social is very different from Facebook to Twitter to LinkedIn to Youtube. A station’s website is different from there Broadcast channel. If they can create content for all three that drives traffic and engagement they can drive ratings. It is as simple as having your best friend tell you to check out something or as easy as a President shaking hands and kissing babies. It

    • Lori Lewis on June 13, 2013 at 1:44 PM

      Right on, Dave. I always enjoy your part in the conversation – thank you so much for your support. It means a lot coming from you.

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