Updated. If Twitter had been as popular in 2006 as it is today, would Arrested Development still be on the air? That’s one of the questions that came to mind today when I read a new report from eMarketer that shows how both TV viewers and broadcasters are using social media these days.
First, some facts: 43 percent of U.S. TV viewers have used social media to engage with a TV show online. Some of this engagement is home-grown, based on our love of talking about the stuff we like online. But increasingly, it’s also the result of networks promoting Facebook and Twitter on air and using social media to get people excited about their content.
Case in point: People were already talking about Survivor on Twitter even before CBS embraced the service, with up to 15,000 tweets about the show sent out per episode last fall. But Twitter activity exploded once Survivor host Jeff Probst live-tweeted the show this spring, with as many as 54,000 people chiming in on Twitter the day of and day after each new episode aired on CBS.
The eMarketer report gathers a whole lot of data about interactions on Facebook and Twitter, but there are two more stats from TVGuide.com referenced in the eMarketer report that I found particularly interesting: When asked why they share information about what they’re watching on Facebook, 77 percent of viewers surveyed said that they wanted to simply tell their friends what’s on in their home. However, 66 percent said that they’re trying to “help keep my show on the air.” Now that’s loyalty — and it kind of makes you wonder if Twitter could have saved shows like Arrested Development.
The other data nugget, again originally from TVGuide.com, could be interesting for anyone weighing their options on where to engage with their audience. Most people use social media to talk about shows after they’ve watched them. However, 62 percent of people surveyed share something about a show on Twitter before it airs. On Facebook, this is only the case with about 47 percent. Engagement was also significantly higher on Twitter during the airing of a show (47 percent) than on Facebook (24 percent). In other words: If you want to let people know that a show is on and have an immediate impact on your live ratings, Twitter may work better than Facebook.
Update: This post was updated on 05/30 to clarify the original source of some of the data cited in the eMarketer report.