Archive for July, 2012
The 2012 Summer Olympics kicked off a few days ago. These are the first Olympic games where Twitter will play a significant role in both audience and athlete participation; publications like Mashable are even touting these Olympics as the “first real-time games”. But if you live in the United States, you already know just how “real-time” the London 2012 Olympics have been. As an example, NBC opted to tape-delay their broadcast of Friday’s Opening Ceremony, starting the US East Coast broadcast at 7:30 p.m. EDT, three and a half hours after the event actually started in London. In an age of Twitter and other real-time social media, this kind of time delay presents a big challenge for fans and a missed opportunity for networks. Live television is more relevant now than it has been in years – and tape delays are increasingly irrelevant and even detrimental.
Twitter and Live TV
While most types of television benefit from the sense of urgency engendered by real-time social media, two kinds of shows have become essential to watch in real time. The first are shows that rely on audience participation throughout each episode, like American Idol and other reality shows where folks at home call in their votes to determine which contestants continue on.
The others are the cliffhanger-heavy, high drama shows with reveals galore, like ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars. If you don’t tune in when the show is originally broadcast, then you risk hearing about the ending before you see it. Twitter should come with a giant “spoiler alert” label on it.
Sporting events fall into this second category – televised events that must be watched live to prevent spoilers. Can you imagine watching the Super Bowl a few hours after it originally aired? It would be nearly impossible to avoid learning which team won. The Olympics should probably fall into this category, right? Right?!
Twitter, TV and the 2012 Olympic Games
Of course it’s complicated to consider myriad time zones and a large global audience. And it gets even more complicated when you throw in Twitter, which allows people from around the world to share their thoughts with anyone at any time. To help deal with these complexities, NBC, the only US broadcast television network with the rights to air the Olympics, has opted to time-delay their airing of some events, while others air in real time.
This time delay has led to confusion and countless spoilers, like last Saturday when the results of the men’s swimming 400 medley competition was announced on NBC’s Nightly News program, even though the event itself hadn’t been broadcast on NBC yet! Of course this has led to numerous articles about how to avoid Olympic spoilers on Twitter, as well as an angry backlash online, with hashtags like #NBCfail emerging as Olympic fans plead with NBC to air more events live. There are even parody Twitter accounts poking fun at the time delay. @NBCDelayed popped up over the weekend and has already generated thousands of retweets.
So, are people watching less of NBC’s coverage because of this? Well… Maybe not. Not yet, at least.
Nielsen ratings were actually up for Friday’s broadcast of the Opening Ceremony, with an average of 40.7 million viewers tuning in. That is higher than the 2008 Opening Ceremony in Beijing (34.9 million) and the 1996 Opening Ceremony in Atlanta (39.7 million).
Overall, there were 6.3 million tweets posted about the Olympics during the Opening Ceremony on Friday (during the UK and US broadcasts of the event, lasting from 20:00 UTC on July 27, 2012 until 07:00 UTC on July 28, 2012). Here’s the tweets per minute breakdown for the full time period. The biggest spike of about 29K tweets per minute happened 48 minutes in the live show, at 20:48 UTC, right around the time Mr. Bean started conducting the London Symphony Orchestra (a phrase I never thought I’d type).
In 2008, Twitter was very different than it is today. It was much smaller, and far less tied to pop culture and television than it is now. So a comparison to 2008 Olympic tweets probably won’t help us understand the 2012 Olympics games very much. However, comparing tweets posted during the different Opening Ceremony broadcasts can tell us something. 3.85 million tweets were posted during live performance (UK time) and 2.35 million tweets were posted during US East Coast broadcast on NBC. Since NBC started their broadcast 3.5 hours into the live performance, there is some overlap between the two telecasts (from approximately 23:30 – 00:00 UTC). The chart below highlights the four hours of the Opening Ceremony from both the live and tape-delayed perspectives.
There is large decrease in tweets during the US broadcast compared to the live broadcast. But if much of the rest of the world was watching when the Opening Ceremony was performed live, then US tweet volume wouldn’t really be able to compete with that. Approximately one-third of Twitter accounts are from the United States, so it’s reasonable to expect the kinds of volume numbers we see above. These certainly aren’t the numbers we’d expect if American viewers simply boycotted the program.
On the other hand, the Opening Ceremony aired on Friday night, marking the official start of the 2012 Olympic games. People simply hadn’t had time to become irritated and fed up with the time delay yet, so lots of people watched. If there really is general support to move away from tape-delayed broadcasts, it will likely take a few days to emerge in the Olympics data. So for now, we’ll keep watching it.
Tape delays are not only irrelevant, but they’re actually damaging fan participation and goodwill. It’s time NBC – and other networks who insist on time delays for their live televised programs – start to work with the evolving model of real-time social television instead of around it.
On Friday during the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony, 6.32 million tweets were posted from 2.65 million unique Twitter accounts* about the London Olympic games. Click the image below for the full size version.
The most retweeted tweet of the night was from @TeamGB, which received more than 30,000 retweets. The most buzzed about country was the United States, the most buzzed about athlete was British diver Tom Daley, and the most buzzed about sponsor was Samsung. The #openingceremony hashtag was used in more than 873,000 tweets.
As we continue to track tweets about the 2012 London Olympics over the next two weeks, we’ll be posting lots more Olympics Twitter analyses. So check back soon for more!
*These tweets were collected from 20:00 UTC July 27 through 07:00 UTC July 28, to include the live UK broadcast of the opening ceremony, as well as the time-delayed East and West Coast US broadcasts of the event.
Subscribers to the TweetReach Pro service are always innovating when it comes to measuring Twitter campaigns for their brands and clients. And, the good folks at ISM Search & Social are certainly no exception.
Welcome Dan Naylor, resident scientist and Services Director at ISM to a new edition of TakeFive with TweetReach. Tutored in behavioral science, Dan gets shamelessly excited about the convergence of audience analysis, creative thinking and client ambition and we’re thrilled to have him share his thoughts on social media measurement and the fine work ISM is doing with their clients.
TweetReach: Welcome Dan! ISM is an integrated digital agency – you not only do social media strategies for your clients, but also SEO, mobile, affiliate marketing, and other campaigns. How have you seen your clients approach Twitter as part of their overall digital strategy?
Dan Naylor: ISM exists to influence online behavior of specifically defined target audiences. We try not to distinguish our campaigns by the channels and focus on defining the target audience, mapping the location of the available audiences and creating content that convinces the users to move from where they currently exist to our clients’ channels. The individual job of each channel naturally presents itself as an obvious candidate during the process of building the campaign strategy.
However, Twitter enables us to interact with any existing social conversation (that’s on Twitter). We can approach the target audience directly, or through influencers should the brand have low credibility within the target audience or subject area. In addition, the inherent frequency of Twitter means we can move through the gears very quickly. Both factors ensure that, for now, it is our most powerful outreach channel.
TweetReach: And, how important is measurement in the social media strategies you put together for your clients?
Dan Naylor: Without measurement any performance is open to interpretation and since most people have an opinion about social media, we prefer not to leave the measurement of performance to interpretation. Ultimately, if we can’t measure a specific activity we either remove it from the campaign or invent a new measure. However, while we pride ourselves on an analytical approach to digital marketing, we are clear that measurement data is only evidence that we delivered the campaign objectives. In putting together the social media strategies for our clients we are clear that a complete understanding of the campaign objectives is just as important and the majority of the measurement data stays in the background, until the client wants a deeper understanding of the progress.
TweetReach: What metrics are most important to you? How do you measure engagement?
- Exposure – the number of occasions content has been delivered
- Reach – unique people to whom content was delivered
- Engagement – interaction with the content
- User journey – click-through
We try to measure all channels using a channel-specific version of the four metrics above, mostly to better assess how individual channels are contributing to the overall user journey. We measure engagement specifically as a measurable interaction with the content. For instance, for Twitter we simply measure mentions. A mention is the first measurable interaction with the content and the result is either additional reach if that mention is part of a retweet, additional mentions if a reply, or a click if the user has moved to one of our other channels.
We have also been developing our click tracking systems to provide better social attribution modelling to better reflect a user that moves between channels. Ultimately, we have moved away from the measuring status (likes, fans, followers, etc.) and now track activity.
TweetReach: Let’s talk about the measurement of reach. How do you weigh the importance of the quantity of a campaign’s reach (the overall size of the potential audience) vs. the quality of that reach?
Dan Naylor: Quantity vs quality is a debate that will never end; it is as old as marketing itself. In Twitter the relationship between exposure, reach, engagement and click-through all give indications of how the audience is responding to the content. For example, if exposure and reach numbers are close together over time the content is consistently reaching new audiences. If they are far apart, tweets are repetitively being delivered to the same audience. In both cases the engagement and user journey metrics will indicate how the content plan should be amended in real-time.
TweetReach: How do look think about the mix of different social media platforms when designing social media campaigns? Are you trying different approaches with different networks? How important is measurement with each?
Dan Naylor: We are constantly evolving with the channels and adapting campaigns as new channels and audiences converge — remember MySpace? ISM is focused on organic growth so I exclude the additional advertising opportunities that exist in each channel; we consider advertising important but a little like cheating. The type of brand, target audience, speed of impact, budget and any integration with non-social platforms governs the ideal mix of channels.
Twitter is the only channel that is universal in all of our current campaigns. We use Twitter to identify, outreach and engage with target audiences, especially if the audience is new to the client. Since Twitter users are seeking information we find Twitter to be the most efficient channel at seeding content and driving traffic to additional channels. The relative open approach of Twitter to performance data and the relative low production cost combines to enable us to test fast and then roll out conclusions to slower moving channels with higher production costs.
TweetReach: Can you describe one of your more successful social media campaigns? Were there specific goals your clients wanted to achieve and how did they do? How important was measurement to the campaign’s success?
Dan Naylor: The best example of using existing Twitter networks to greatly increase the reach of our client brand in new audiences is our work for Mercedes-Benz in the UK. We were asked to increase the younger audiences exposed to the brand. We identified current owners of Mercedes-Benz cars with large existing followings and existing profiles in younger audiences. Initially by @messaging the target influencers we sparked organic conversation about their vehicles. For the first 6 months of 2012, from a Twitter following of 35,000 we averaged reach (unique Twitter ids) of over 1,500,000 per month and exposure consistently in excess of 5,000,000 deliveries. The organic outreach activity contributed to increases in Twitter and specifically Facebook communities over the period and drove significant traffic to other Mercedes-Benz campaign activity.
TweetReach: Thanks for your thoughts, Dan!
Dan Naylor is Services Director of ISM Search & Social, a specialist digital agency in London. At ISM, Dan is responsible for strategy and content delivery across the agency. A graduate of marketing and behavioral science, Dan’s career started client-side, rising to C-level communication and marketing positions. Whilst managing overall marketing budgets, Dan recognized that customers weren’t responding to traditional channels as they had done previously. Dan began focusing on digital marketing and audience behavior in 2006.
Dan moved agency-side in 2010, determined to help remove corporate management silos that he believes continue to stop social media fulfilling its potential as a business tool. ISM helps clients segment and develop their digital audiences, pioneering an approach to mapping social connections to influence behaviour and produce seamless User Journeys. ISM advises corporations including Mercedes-Benz, Arcadia Group, Jaguar Land Rover and AIG. Dan is shamelessly excited about the ongoing potential of digital marketing and the convergence of quality data, creative thinking and client ambition.
If you’re interested in learning more about TweetReach Pro and our comprehensive Twitter campaign analytics, there’s more information on our website. Check it out!
The TweetReach support team will be around to answer all of your questions this week, but please allow us a little extra time to return your calls and emails on Wednesday, July 4th, as we will be out of the office celebrating one of our favorite holidays, Independence Day.
On July 4, 2012, we will return all non-urgent requests within 24 hours and urgent requests as soon as possible. As always, you can get in touch with us in many ways. Email will be the fastest way to get through to us over the holiday (aren’t smart phones great?).
- Email us at support [at] unionmetrics [dot] com
- Call us at 888-834-8113
- Submit a ZenDesk ticket
- Find us on Twitter or Facebook
Thank you and Happy Fourth of July!