One of Twitter’s mantras is “Twitter brings you closer”. They especially like to emphasise how Twitter can makes watching TV show a more immersive and personal experience. Over Christmas I came across a great example first-hand of Twitter ‘bringing me closer’, which I thought I’d share.
‘Moon’ is one of my favourite movies of the last few years, a beautiful, intelligent, haunting sci-fi film that harked back to an age when Science Fiction was about big ideas and not big budgets. So seeing it in the Christmas schedule as part of a double bill with Blade Runner, I made an appointment to view. I mostly stayed off Twitter during the film as, despite many previous viewings, I was still completely engrossed. I did pull my phone out to tweet this however during a particularly heart wrenching scene, if only to distract myself from the sadness of it:
I then spotted in my timeline that someone had retweeted this tweet from Duncan Jones, the director of Moon, talking about the same point in the film.
It turns out that, having himself spotted in the Radio Times that Moon was going to be making it’s ‘proper telly’ premiere, Duncan Jones had decided to arrange a tweetalong with himself and various members of the crew, including Concept Artist and VFX Supervisor, Gavin Rothery and composer, Clint Mansell amongst many others. You can see a more comprehensive storify of the tweetalong but here are some highlights.
Making a quick reference to Blade Runner which aired directly afterwards:
Talking about how they got Kevin Spacey on board:
Expaining some of the thinking behind GERTY and comparisons with HAL from 2001: A space Odyssey:
Clint Mansell talking about his score:
A nod to Chesney Hawkes’ ‘The One and Only’ featuring in the film:
Chesney himself even got involved:
The reasoning behind featuring ping pong in the film:
Duncan talking about his cameo as a female computer voice:
This is just a small selection and I highly recommend fans of the film visit the storify page.
It was great to go through all the tweets after the movie ended (with Blade Runner on in the background). Not only was it interesting hearing little tidbits about the film, but there was something about the fact all these people were watching and talking about the film at the same time as you that made it somehow much more personal than something like a DVD commentary. Twitter really did make the experience much more intimate and engaging.
by Ted Littledale
Conversations around the TV schedule happen on all social networks, but the most compelling insights come from Twitter. This is because it’s a public platform without the privacy issues of Facebook, its users embrace the immediacy of microblogging and the Tweet (being 140 chars or less) lends itself to being made into a metric.
On Twitter the signal bursts through the noise to reveal very clear patterns of engagement around TV shows. We often hear commentators talking about social media ‘buzz’ around broadcasts but the reality is much more nuanced. Different genres, time slots and demographics display different patterns of engagement.
We seen over 20 repeating patterns of engagement and we will be releasing a white paper documenting them in early 2013. In the meantime here are a few examples from the last 12 months.
1) Dramas generate a bookend pattern of engagement.
2) Some shows demonstrate a remarkable viewer to tweet conversion. This episode of Made in Chelsea saw 25% of the audience sending a Tweet.
3) Engagement around soaps is tied intimately to developments in the plot. The spike below is the response to the unveiling of the identity of Kat’s secret lover.
4) Twitter is often a barometer for public opinion. James Arthur attracted more tweets from day one on X Factor - long before he was identified as a contender by the judges. He went on to win the show.
5) Some shows initiate a conversation that extends way past the end of the broadcast. The 15 Stone Babies on Channel 4 is a good example.
6) Getting talent to live-tweet during broadcasts drives engagement. MTV are particularly good at this with The Valleys and Geordie Shore.
7) Tweet patterns for films repeat themselves. These two broadcasts of Dirty Dancing shown six months apart display almost identical Twitter engagement patterns.
The big players in audience measurement are now taking Social TV seriously. Social data will never replace panel data but it is a compelling augmentation. A year ago our statistics documented an interesting audience behaviour, in 2013 they are shaping up to become part of the audience measurement orthodoxy.
By Andy Littledale
We’re often asked what is the significance of a show having high social ratings. One of the key benefits we see is that if offers an opportunity for brands to tap into this social audience. Two weeks ago Freeview launched the following spot, by creative agency The Outfit, during Made in Chelsea which is a great example of this.
Tonight the last episode of the current series of Made in Chelsea airs, ending a 10 week run. I’ve watched most of the previous 9 episodes, purely for research purposes you’ll understand. As one of the top ranking shows socially, averaging over 100k tweets per episodes, I feel it’s my duty to watch it. You may not have seen the show yourself so I thought I’d share some insights into why it’s such a social success.
The show has an incredibly loyal social fan base who love to tweet their commentary on whatever love triangle is happening on any given week, show their disapproval at love rats, we’re looking at you Jamie, or comment on cast members olfactory organs:
So going back to the Freeview+ campaign, we tracked mentions of Freeview for 10 minutes after the ads aired for the last two weeks and found that the spots generated over 1000 mentions on Twitter over the two 10 minute periods immediately after the advert.
What is incredible is how positive the reaction to the spot was, I couldn’t find a single negative comment amongst the tweets. This is an unedited list of the first 10 tweets about the advert to give you a flavour, the 1000+ tweets that followed are pretty much more of the same.
Another benefit of targetting Made is Chelsea is that most of the cast, who have large numbers of Twitter followers, tweet along to the show. The star of the advert was one of those tweeting and he also commented on the advert.
The Freeview spot is a great example of how you can intelligently target social audiences to get some of their buzz to rub off on your brand.
By Ted Littledale
As is traditional at this time of year, our TV scheduled are interrupted by three weeks of jungle based celebrity shenanigans, otherwise known as I’m a Celebrity get me out of here.
Of course this is a format that lends itself well to Social TV, and it certainly delivered in terms of numbers getting 441,737 tweets from 258,527 unique accounts last night.
What was interesting was how many other Celebrities were tweeting about the show, they obviously quite enjoy seeing their peers suffering! There were over 400 tweets from 131 different verified accounts last night. Here’s a brief flavour:
Everyone seems unusually sane so far! #imaceleb— OfficialAmandaHolden (@Amanda_Holden) November 11, 2012
I love Linda and Charlie #imaceleb— Denise Van Outen(@denise_vanouten) November 11, 2012
The Twitter audience was also engaging in their own fun and games, coming up with their lists of celebrities that they would like to see next year, using the hashtag #NextYearsJungle. In fact the most retweeted Tweet during the transmission was one of these tweets:
#NextYearsJungle Keith LemonMiranda hartAlan CarrJoey EssexDerren BrownBoris JohnsonCheryl Cole Rylan Clarke Roy Cropper— Mory Riller. (@rorytheracincar) November 11, 2012
Nadine Dorries’ decision to enter the jungle this year has caused a great deal of controversy. I’m not sure the political blogger Guido Fawkes and the Guardian Science team would normally tweet about I’m a Celeb so she’s certainly broadened the appeal. Here are their tweets and a couple of others about the MP for Mid Bedfordshire:
Quelle surprise, posh boy Hugo doesn’t like Nadine. Did he go to Eton? #Imacelebrity— Guido Fawkes (@GuidoFawkes) November 11, 2012
Nadine Dorries and the power of humiliation gu.com/p/3bmvc/tf— Guardian Science (@guardianscience) November 11, 2012
The BEST way to discuss ideologically driven abortion term limit reduction is with a mouthful of kangaroo testicle. #IACGMOOH— Marcus Brigstocke (@marcusbrig) November 11, 2012
Nrly time for IAACGMOOH. Go @nadinedorriesmp - eating kangaroo balls now’t compared with the day job. NB - don’t 4get to Sky+ Homeland ppl!— Sally Bercow (@SallyBercow) November 11, 2012
Nadine wasn’t the most talked about celebrity though, David Haye and Helen Flanagan got far more mentions. 63 thousand tweets mentioned David and 47 thousand tweets mentioned Helen while only 10 thousand talked about the MP:
Bless Helen and that mascara scar down her face #imacelebrity— heat & heatworld (@heatworld) November 11, 2012
Helloooooo David haye !!! X— Gemma Collins (@missgemcollins) November 11, 2012
At the other end of the spectrum Linda had the least mentions with just 2,657. It will be interesting to see if the lack of tweets translates into a lack of votes when the evictions begin.
by Ted Littledale
At SecondSync we like to stick to a simple definition of Social TV. It describes the way that social media has taken conversations around TV shows from the living room and onto the internet. It’s a trend that is growing exponentially in popularity. The number of people participating, and the amount of data it is generating, is staggering.
TV related discussion exists on all social networks but in terms of real-time public conversation, not check ins, ‘likes’ or downloads, Twitter dominates and the tweet has become the de-facto currency of social TV.
As a company we are focused on creating social media metrics for TV. There are three things about Twitter that make it unique in this area.
Every month we see an increase in the percentage of the TV audience tweeting but on 15th October 2012 we saw something extraordinary. The premiere of the new series of Made in Chelsea attracted an audience of 452,000 viewers on E4. Our platform identified 215,220 tweets aimed at the show from 110,170 unique users during its transmission window. That’s a staggering one in four of the audience tweeting about the show! It was a watershed moment.
Analysing these conversations is generating audience insights that are being used by our clients across several areas of their businesses. As the uptake of this behaviour continues to grow, the insights generated will become more compelling, and while other social networks remain largely private, Twitter will continue to dominate this space.
by Andy Littledale
Last night’s Panorama Special covered the Jimmy Savile child abuse scandal and the events surrounding the dropping of a Newsnight investigation into the matter.
The investigation was of course shocking in what it revealed about the scale of the abuse and covered in detail the events surrounding the dropped Newsnight investigation and it was fascinating to see the depth of feeling expressed in the 38,243 tweets about the programme. It was also refreshing that vast majority of tweets took the subject matter seriously, with relatively few cheap jokes to be found.
A lot of the tweets expressed a mixed sentiment of horror at the failures of the BBC but huge praise for the programme itself and the fact the BBC had chosen to air such a self critical piece, including this from Rufus Jones which was the most retweeted of the night:
This Panorama about the BBC at its worst is the BBC at its best.— rufus jones (@rufusjones1) October 22, 2012
Another similar tweet from Iain Dale:
This Panorama programme is the BBC at its best. Shame it also reveals the BBC at its very worst. Incredible stuff. Superb journalism.— Iain Dale (@IainDale) October 22, 2012
There were also tweets from those involved in the story itself including from Liz Macklean, the Newsnight correspondent at the heart of the investigation:
#Panorama not comfortable viewing for anyone involved, no doubt, but glad it’s all been said and Karin heard— Liz Mackean (@lizmackean) October 22, 2012
Liz Macklean recieved lots of praise for her part in the investigation:
Others felt that Peter Rippon should have appeared on the programme to give his version of events:
Another thing to note is that the show had a very long tail of engagement. Even though the show finished at 11.40pm the tweet rate remained high after the show ended:
For us it was another example to dispel the myth that Twitter engagement is limited to lightweight television programming.
by Ted Littledale
This weekend saw the start of The X Factor live shows, an event that is one of the biggest in the autumn TV schedule. The shows are produced by FremantleMedia UK and their interactive team have been using our platform throughout the series for real time monitoring of Twitter reaction. As product director at SecondSync I went along to the studio to help the team.
As expected the first show got a huge amount of tweets, reaching a total of 818,128 tweets from 312,012 unique users. That’s the largest amount we’ve seen for a show since we started monitoring all UK television at the beginning of May (this doesn’t include news and sport, see this blog post for an explanation of why we treat these broadcasts differently).
We used our historical access to the Twitter firehose to compare these figures to the first live show of last year. The total number of tweets more than doubled from the 385,062 in Oct 2011 and there was an even bigger increase in the total number unique users, up almost 200,000 from the 119,600 last year.
Saturday’s show peaked at 14,013 tweets per minute during James Arthur’s performance. James was also the most talked about act, getting mentioned in 52,000 tweets. Last year’s first live show peaked at 5,129 TPM.
As well as the big increase in the total number of tweets, there has also been a big jump in the number of verified accounts tweeting about the show. On Saturday there were tweets from 208 different verified accounts, last year there were only 79.
We see this increase as part of an overall trend trend of increased social media activity around TV broadcasts. It also reflects the increased effort that shows like the X Factor make to engage their Social TV audience.
by Ted Littledale
Pivoting is firmly embedded in modern technology startup culture. The common wisdom, for what it’s worth, is that if you haven’t pivoted, then you’re not really innovating. It’s something some investors look for: evidence that the team behind a startup has the wisdom to realise that they need to change direction, and what that new direction should be. Pivoting your business shows that you understand when something isn’t working, have the courage and ability to change it, and aren’t afraid to admit that perhaps your first idea wasn’t the best.
SecondSync itself has pivoted at least once: we started life producing a second screen application for the BBC’s Frozen Planet series. We quickly realised, however, that there was far greater value in that little Twitter widget at the side of the screen. Our user testing showed that it was social media that was driving engagement, not our application. So we pivoted. And now we’re an analytics company.
This ability to respond to change is in the DNA of successful startups, and is often evident throughout the business. As Technical Director, I’ve overseen (and usually implemented!) several generations of technology powering the SecondSync platform. This has been in response to customer demand, to growing volumes of data within the platform, and - because nobody gets it all right first time - to weaknesses within the platform itself.
Iterating your business’ technology stack quickly and reliably is challenging. Keeping up the pace of innovation is paramount. You and your team must have no ego about those technologies that you’ve built but must now be thrown away. You must all have no qualms about moving outside of your comfort zone, trying (and often taking a risk on) new technologies. Finally, you all need the technical ability to implement these changes, and to measure their effectiveness.
Humility, courage and ability: while the business pivots, the technology pivots, and the marketing story pivots, it is around these three qualities that the company as a whole turns.
by Dan Fairs, Technical Director
So the first weekend of Olympic action has finished and I’ve been putting in some serious hours of Olympics watching, mostly on TV but with a very wet trip to the Mall in between. The BBC coverage has been outstanding with seemingly unlimited viewing options, having broadcasts on three BBC channels as well as a red button service and a plethora of options online.
One thing that has been noticeably absent from their coverage however is any promotion of hashtags during coverage. We’ve become used to seeing the BBC promote their own hashtags, such as #bbcqt, during their broadcasts so it was surprising that they didn’t push #bbc2012 which is the hashtag being used by official BBC twitter accounts.
As a result the numbers of tweets we’ve been seeing for the BBC broadcasts have been surprisingly low (note we’re not tracking generic tags such as #olympics as we want to focus on the broadcast itself and we outline our reasons here). It has also meant that there has been a lot of fragmentation of the hash tags being used, during the opening ceremony we saw #bbcolympics being used almost as much as #bbc2012. There was also a lot of fragmentation of the generic, non-BBC, hashtags being used alongside the BBC hashtags with #olympicceremony, #london2012 and #olympics all getting large numbers.
This demonstrates the need to actively promote programme hastags in order to avoid conversations about the coverage itself being lost in the general chatter about the event. The BBC may have their own reasons for not promoting #bbc2012 but we feel like they’ve missed an opportunity to own the conversation happening around their coverage.
By Ted Littledale
At SecondSync we treat sport and news differently to other programmes. We have written a previous blog post explaining our reasons for this.
As our primary interest is audience reaction to broadcasts we intend to cover Twitter reaction to the coverage of the Olympics rather than engagement with the events themselves.
We will not track general tags like #olympics and #london2012 but we will be tracking broadcast specific tags such as #bbc2012, #bbcolympics and mentions of presenter names. These are already being used in discussions around coverage by the BBC, who are covering the Olympics in the UK.
We will be doing to the same for the Paralympics on Channel 4 and will share insights on this blog.
By Andy Littledale