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Premieres and Finales Bring Tweeters Out of the Nest

The relationship between TV and social media is tricky, yielding a lot of information but few conclusions about the value of that data.

Social activity seems to indicate engagement and could provide opportunities for marketing and advertising. In a new study, Nielsen looked at the people who tweet about shows on Twitter to see whether activity was generated by the same group of authors each week, or whether other viewers join the conversation at different moments during the season.

Nielsen Social studied 133 program seasons from September 2014 through May of 2015 and found that new social TV authors regularly join conversations about programs; that loyal authors are valuable for more than just their social allegiance and that big program moments inspire more fans to participate.

For example, during a reality series on a broadcast network, 152,000 Twitter authors tweeted about the final episode. Of them, 49% had not tweeted about a previous episode.

Nielsen found that some programs had more loyal fans on Twitter than others. It found that 24% of the viewers who tweeted about ABC’s Scandal tweeted about three or more episodes. Other shows with a high proportion of loyal tweeters were: The Walking Dead (23%), Empire (22%), How to Get Away with Murder (22%), Sons of Anarchy (21%), Blue Bloods (21%), Grimm (20%), Sleepy Hollow (20%), Love & Hip Hop Hollywood, (20%), and Love & Hip Hop (20%).

These loyal tweeters were valuable viewers because they were prolific tweeters about other subjects and brands and also had more followers on average.

“Identifying and cultivating relationships with loyal authors could be powerful for TV networks and advertisers as they each look to maximize earned media driven by TV content and advertising,” Nielsen said.

While loyal tweeters account for a big part of a show’s social media presence, big moments within a season bring more people into the conversations. Nielsen says that 25% of the people who tweet about a show tweet about premieres and 16% tweet about finales.

“These are moments program marketers could take advantage of,” Nielsen suggests. “For instance, premieres could be an opportunity to maximize early promotion of a new program. Advertisers and agencies could also use these big moments to maximize earned media from sponsorships and integrations.”

Networks can use these opportunities to try to persuade viewers to join social media conversations through on-screen requests for tweets and by having owned accounts live tweet during those episodes, Nielsen says.

“As industry players prepare to engage viewers this fall, these insights can be applied to more holistically understand audiences’ response to programming from week to week,” Nielsen concludes. “Through ongoing measurement and analysis of new and returning authors—an advanced analysis available this fall from Nielsen Social—networks, agencies and advertisers can prepare to take action to amplify earned media driven by live TV content.”

Nielsen Social measures relevant U.S. Twitter TV activity from three hours before to three hours after a broadcast. Programs analyzed include primetime series with an average of 5,000 or more tweets per episode and the shows’ premiere and finale between Sept. 1, 2014 and March 31, 2015.