Study: Facebook Activity Correlates To TV Viewership (Social TV’s Not Just For Twitter)

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Much has been made of the symbiotic relationship between TV and Twitter and the company’s Facebook-Likerecent activity to attract both broadcasters and marketers to the platform.  Now a new paper from social advertising platform, CitizenNet, looks at how Facebook activity correlates with TV-viewing habits.

For the study, CitizenNet looked the two weeks of Facebook Page Insights data leading up to the premieres of 77 TV shows from both broadcast and cable networks from 2011 and 2012. They then looked at whether the Facebook Insights metrics would correlate with Nielsen viewership for the premier episodes of each show.

The results? As the regression analysis below illustrates, the number of Facebook actions people take leading up to a show are indeed indicative of the number of viewers that tune-in to watch that show.

Facebook Predicted Viewership CitzenNet

Which Metrics Matter?

After seeing the correlation between Facebook activity and viewership, CitizenNet then asked, out of the dozens of Facebook activity metrics available, which ones should marketers focus on? They found that because so many metrics are related to each other, they could distill all the Facebook Insights into two categories. The first category comprises metrics associated with the number of people seeing your content: “impressions”, “seen”, “saw”. The second category of metrics are related to actions like “clicked”, “liked”, “shared”.

Essentially, it boils down to: awareness and intent. Both are essential and, yet they are uncorrelated. Meaning marketers need to be looking at both.

For example,

“You can’t expect to have large numbers of people tuning into a show without lots of people being aware of it … At the same time, lots of people who are aware but completely disinterested in what you have to offer does no good either – there has to be some level of engagement …”

Audience Segmentation And Targeted Messaging At Scale

To this end, the study says marketers should get away from looking at too many metrics and from focusing solely on “cost-efficiency and Facebook likes”. Instead the advice is to focus on smart audience segmentation and content experimentation and to watch overall CTR (including organic), in addition to cost efficiency.

CitizenNet says by looking at just the total number of page Likes and total CTR of content, you’ll see a correlation with TV viewership. Assuming a 2% CTR, the study finds that for each 3% increase in Page likes, there tends to be a 1% increase in TV viewership.

The paper concludes with a lesson for broadcasters. Taking an example from one of CitizenNet’s own Facebook campaigns for a TV show, the study highlights how isolating and targeting over a hundred different audience segments, they found that fans of Urban Outfitters were the highest performing group. With this type of data, a show could then relay “to advertisers that, with positive proof, fans of Urban Outfitters are highly engaged in your content, all before the  show even airs”.

As consumers share more, and social platforms open up more access to user data to marketers, the study’s authors say “social identity will inevitably be more robust than cookies and other browser-based behavior”.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Associate Editor, assisting with the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

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