Welcome to the age of Social TV


Social media isn’t new. Television, quite frankly, is old. But, over the past year or so, the relationship between the two has becoming something different, and quite special.

This week, Twitter announced that it’s collaborating with Nielsen to produce a new television rating metric based on tweets, affirming the growing strength of the relationship between TV and social. The link between the two has never been so concrete. But how did we get here – and what’s next?

Well, TV has always been sociable. From discussing favourite soaps to recommending the latest popular series, conversations about TV have always taken place. But social media has changed the way these conversations are happening. Now, when we’re tuned into the TV, we’re using our smartphones or tablets to communicate our views.

Twitter is leading the way in its (albeit self-proclaimed) position as the ‘water cooler’ of the modern day; gather around it to discuss last night’s television – what you liked, what you hated and what you are going to be watching in the future.

Of course, Twitter has one massive advantage over the classic water cooler in that your geographical location doesn’t matter. Because of this, discussions are now happening in real-time – as the shows are broadcast – rather then the next day in the office.

An obvious example of this is the much-documented Twitter conversations surrounding the Breaking Bad Finale, where the East and West Coast US airings alone generated a huge 1.24 million tweets in just three hours before, during and after the programme.


TV programmes are starting to wise up to this huge amount of online conversation, and trying to own it. Pretty Little Liars, Glee and American Idol are just a few TV programmes that are getting it right using hashtags, competitions, discussions and live Q&As with the actors.

Brands are also recognising the power of Social TV. We’ve seen this in advertising strategies such as Three’s recent ‘The Pony’. By including the hashtag #DancePonyDance,, viewers were encouraged to engage with the advert, rather than simply watching it.

It’s not just in advertising where using the relationship between TV and social media can be used – for example, We Are Social client evian used Social TV to make the most of its sponsorship of the BAFTA Awards, by hosting a Twitter party with its community around the event’s TV broadcast.

Now, Twitter is moving to formalise its role as the champion of social TV and the newest television rating metric. As I mentioned, this week they joined forces with Nielsen, the global information and measurement company, to launch the Nielsen Twitter TV Ratings; the ‘first-ever measure of total activity and reach of TV-related conversations on Twitter.’

Facebook is keen not to be left behind. It has been quick to declare war on Twitter’s TV dominance and challenge its social television supremacy. Earlier this week Facebook announced their plans to offer data globally; working with ten broadcasters in eight different countries. Dan Rose, Facebook’s Vice President of Partnerships, pointed out this week that, while 10 million people were watching Miley twerk at the VMAs, 9 million were mentioning it on Facebook.

He also revealed that Facebook will be rolling out trending topics soon and that unsurprisingly, in trial versions, the most trending topics during primetime tended to be TV programmes.

While the fight for the TV viewer’s favourite social platform carries on, what is clear is that TV is now well and truly intertwined with social media.