With the slew of “Breaking Bad” tweets dominating your timelines last night and still trickling in today, you can’t ignore the close-knit relationship between social media and television.
But can there be one social media network to rule them all?
For the last year, Twitter and Facebook have been duking it out to become the main feed for TV dialogue, both to attract more users and hopefully reel in more advertising dollars. And in the fight for the big bucks from advertisers, the key seems to be data.
Facebook came out swinging this week by releasing its plan to send weekly reports to the four largest television networks with information about data about how much chatter their television shows are generating on Facebook, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The reports will show how many likes, comments, or shares a television show garnered among how many people. This move one-ups its recent program allowing select media partners to see activity related to certain keywords on its public feed because it will also take into account private posts between users. Facebook says the data is collected anonymously and will only be shown in aggregate to protect users’ privacy. None of the information in the reports will be available to the public.
Although this new data is undeniably exciting for networks, the reports are still pretty limited and the process isn’t error-proof.
To calculate chatter, Facebook creates a library of keywords for each show that it uses to make sure a comment is, in fact, related to a specific show (WSJ reports that before the system was fine-tuned, CBS’s NCIS received an abnormally high number of mentions because the string “NCIS” is also part of the city “San Francisco”). Posts could easily slip through the cracks.
Facebook reportedly hopes to include more data in its reports over time, such as how many people saw activity that talked about a show.
Twitter has also targeted television partnerships aggressively this year, including today’s expected launch of the “Nielsen Twitter TV rating” to show how many people participate in a conversation about a particular show, and how many people saw those tweets.
Facebook’s new initiative may offer a slight upper hand, though, because the site’s large number of users are far more spread out among the general population than Twitter’s.
David Poltrack, CBS’s chief research officer, told WSJ that although he finds Twitter’s real-time conversations valuable, young females are disproportionately active on the service, which leads to higher activity for certain shows.
He predicts that Facebook, however, with its broader audience, may be more “correlated with actual viewing levels.”