With Facebook Joining Nielsen’s Twitter TV Ratings Can They Be More Social

Facebook is joining Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings, Venke Sharma explores whether the social networking giant has emerged as the companion medium for television viewers

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Editor’s Note: The post first appeared on Venke Sharma’s personal blog. Lighthouse Insights is re-posting the same here. You can follow Venke on Twitter – @venke

Just read the news that Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings will soon become Social TV ratings as they team up with Facebook.

Facebook data has always been in a walled garden. It has been a challenge to understand user behavior with respect to specific genres, brands, shows, events beyond a brand’s own page. Many of us don’t even remember the number of brand pages that we are following. So it is unlikely that we will go to specific channel, show page to comment on content that we are consuming. More likely such comments will be on our own Timeline. As many of us do not make such posts public, listening tools do not pick up much conversation on Facebook beyond brand’s own page.

Tweets on the other hand are mostly public therefore listening tools pick up all the data. Given that Twitter is mostly used by urban elite the current social listening data has an urban bias. The hope is that availability of Facebook data for social listening will help reduce the niche urban bias.

In India Facebook claims to have 130 million users on the platform compared to Twitter’s reported 22.5 million. Over 700 million people in India watch television. As Facebook’s 130 million are not evenly distributed across the country like TV viewers, the big question is whether this will be a representative sample? Or will it be a wider representation of English speaking Indians living in cities?

Given that Indian TV consumption is driven by language content, how many of the conversations are in Indian languages and what will be the ability of the tools to pick up and understand language posts?

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Given the above it will be interesting to see how Nielsen Social TV measurement will be. While their earlier version of Twitter TV ratings has not been launched in India, in US too there has been a lot of debate. ‘Does Twitter drive TV or TV drive Twitter’ being the foremost. 2 way causal relationship between Twitter and TV. Sports, News and Reality Television are more likely to have significant social activity than General Entertainment Content or movie airings.

Cricket, News events like Elections, reality shows etc. have always had phenomenal social buzz along with good viewership ratings. Many of the top rating GEC shows do not have as much buzz on Twitter. (First airings of blockbuster GEC content like Game of Thrones, Breaking bad etc. being exceptions.) Take away brand engineered activities like contests and fan activations, the real time chatter may not be significant. Given this it will be interesting to see how the data will reveal Facebook chatter.

There was a time when Facebook and Twitter were used differently by consumers. Brands that used the platforms differently succeeded better then. (Twitter as right now right here news & views platform. Facebook as anticipation or post event highlights/fan moments/celebrations platform). But as Facebook adds Twitter like features (Trends, hashtags, Influencers etc) and as Twitter adds Facebook like features (like feature, curated tweets etc) the difference is blurring.

Wider reach and an assumption of more diverse user base ensure Facebook stands out. But has Facebook emerged as the companion medium for Television viewers? How often and how consistently do consumers post about content that they are watching? And what kind of interactions take place and how many of those take place Real Time? Is it only about the content? Or do they talk about advertisers as well? How much of the chatter is in Indian languages? How will Facebook reveal all this without compromising on user privacy policies?

These are some of the key questions that will determine effectiveness of Social TV measurement. Given so much action in the over-the-top content (OTT) space it would be interesting to see how these ratings will correlate social chatter and OTT consumption as well.

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