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Broadcast TV is realizing that customers come first

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This is a guest post by TweetReach Pro customer and all-around smart guy Evan Hamilton, Community Manager at UserVoice

Earlier this month I had the pleasure of attending the Lithium Network Conference. I heard a lot of great talks by leaders in community. But the most interesting speech was by Chris Blandy, SVP of Digital Media at FOX. He said something that stood out to me (paraphrased):

We’ve traditionally been a B2B company, but in the social media ere we’re having to become a B2C company. It’s a huge, important shift for us.

Here’s the thing: traditional broadcast media has always been a B2C business. Sure, you’re selling ads to businesses. That’s how you make money. But in order to do that, you have to make a successful B2C product: a network of television shows people want to watch.

It’s understandable that this has been unclear. When FOX launched they were only the FOURTH broadcast television network. Sure, they had to compete on programming, but only with three other networks. They could put a show on, and as long as it didn’t tank, they could focus on courting advertisers and making sure the content matched what they wanted, in content and format.

Today there are more than 20 broadcast television networks… not to mention lots of cable networks and web content. And their fans are audible, filling social networks, blogs, and fan sites with comments about the network. The entertainment industry can no longer assume they will have viewers. They need to focus on the real customers they always had: the viewers.

To FOX’s credit, they seem to be refocusing wholeheartedly. Chris used American Idol as the prime example of this. They’re building social spaces for fans to chat (one of the top posts on the forum is a criticism of a judge’s harsh words to an Idol contestant). They’re also building opportunities for their fans to continue to consume content, even between broadcasts, such as their live Twitter Q&A sessions with former Idol stars. And, in a big move for a company that would normally rely on Nielsen ratings, they’re measuring social media buzz while an event is on air (and off) and bringing that into their decision-making process.

But let’s be clear: it’s not about social making customers suddenly important. They’ve always been important. But as relative monopolies disappear and it becomes harder to hide from what they’re saying, broadcast media going to have to focus on their viewers with more intensity. This means not only listening, but acting on their feedback and keeping the relationship going beyond the 1-hour time slot. If you can master this, the advertisers will come.

Evan Hamilton is Community Manager at UserVoice, makers of modern, easy, web-based customer service help desk software. He writes frequently about focusing on your customers on the UserVoice blog. When he finds free time, he plays rollicking americana music at Kicking Tuesday.

Written by Jenn D

May 16th, 2012 at 10:42 am

Posted in Trends

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Twitter and the election: Revisiting predictions

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When the 2012 United States Republican presidential primaries and caucuses began back in January, we took a look at whether Twitter activity could be used as a predictor of the elections. We started tracking all tweets that mentioned any of a candidate’s Twitter accounts (personal and campaign) and based on the Twitter activity coming out of the Iowa caucuses, we saw that Twitter activity was less an indicator of the outcome, and more a reflection of the overall conversation happening around the candidate. Reach, exposure, and activity were largely driven by mentions by popular news and media accounts, many of which have significant numbers of followers and retweets.

Since January, the Twitter activity on the candidates has been staggering – some of the largest reach and exposure we’ve ever tracked, with over 8 million tweets from hundreds of thousands of contributors. These contributors reached more than 120 million unique Twitter accounts and generated almost 22 billion impressions.

Right before the Super Tuesday primaries in March, we launched the TweetReach Republican Primary Tracker which looked at the relationship between what people say on Twitter and what they do at the polls.  In the visualization, we mapped the number of unique Twitter users talking about a candidate to the y-axis, polling results to the x-axis, and tweet volume to the circle radius.

While, based on our previous analysis, we did not believe Twitter conversations could predict winners, we thought it would be interesting to see what tweets can tell us about how potential voters feel about the candidates. The visualizer confirmed that despite a candidate’s tweet volume, reach, and exposure on Twitter, these data were not a good predictor of election results. They are, however, a great way to understand how popular dialogue about a candidate translates into Twitter conversation.

Today, with Rick Santorum bowing out of the race, we took another look and found that Twitter conversation about Santorum had been relatively quiet since Super Tuesday but, as expected, spiked with today’s news as people came out of the woodwork to Tweet about the candidate.

In fact, a full 21% of Rick Santorum’s exposure since Super Tuesday (over 368 million impressions) occurred today after the announcement. When viewed with the TweetReach Republican Primary Tracker, the impact of the conversation around Santorum’s departure is even more pronounced.

We look forward to tracking the upcoming full election. In the meantime, we’d love to know what you think!

Written by Dean Cruse

April 10th, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Twitter and the Polls: Tracking the Republican Primaries with TweetReach

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Here in the United States, we’re right in the middle of the Republican primaries as the country tries to decide who the GOP nominee for President will be in our election later this year. One of the more interesting conversations around the 2012 Presidential election is the relationship between what people say on Twitter and what they do at the polls. Can we use Twitter conversations to predict election winners? Or, if they can’t predict results, what can tweets tell us about how potential voters feel about the candidates?

With Super Tuesday approaching and the GOP candidate field still wide open, we’ve been tracking tweets about the six top candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination since January 1 – Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum. From those tweets, we built an interactive visualization of how Twitter talks about the GOP candidates, and how that relates to poll numbers over time.

Check out our interactive Republican primary Twitter tracker here or click on the screenshot below.

To create this visualization, we’re using a set of TweetReach Pro Trackers to track Twitter conversation about each of the candidates, along with our API to update the visualization daily. In the visualization, we’ve mapped the number of unique Twitter users talking about a candidate to the y-axis, polling results to the x-axis, and tweet volume to the circle radius. Polling data is from RealClearPolitics.

Written by Jenn D

March 5th, 2012 at 11:55 am

Posted in Events,Trends

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A night at the Oscars: What did Twitter think about the 2012 Academy Awards?

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The 84th annual Academy Awards were held this weekend. As we’ve seen in years past, Twitter has a lot to say about the Academy Award winners, losers (non-winning nominees?), and the show in general.

This year, we tracked tweets about the Oscars – more than 2 million of them - throughout the show’s broadcast on Sunday, February 26, 2012, and collected them in our Academy Awards Twitter Explorer. Click around the explorer to see when tweets were posted about nominees in six of the main categories, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress. Or, read on for our take on what Twitter thought of the 2012 Academy Awards.

Twitter’s top ten favorite Oscar 2012 moments were, in order:

  1. Cirque du Soleil performance. The audience seemed entranced by the acrobatic dancers, and so did Twitter.
  2. Octavia Spencer wins Best Supporting Actress for her role in The Help. She even got a standing ovation!
  3. Hugo wins for Best Visual Effects. And a bunch of other awards too, but this category generated the most tweets.
  4. Meryl Streep wins Best Actress for The Iron Lady. This is a bit of surprise, as many expected Viola Davis to win this category. Regardless, Meryl is lovely and thanks her hairdresser.
  5. The Artist wins Best Picture. No surprise whatsoever here. And everyone loves Uggie the dog.
  6. Zach Galifianakis and Will Ferrell present Best Original Song award to Bret McKenzie for The Muppets. Bret’s work in Flight of the Conchords makes him popular on Twitter. Not to mention, Zach and Will are pretty funny guys.
  7. Christopher Plummer wins Best Supporting Actor. At 82, he’s only two years younger than the Oscars themselves.
  8. Jennifer Lopez and her possible wardrobe malfunction. Was that a shadow or something else? Twitter seems to think it was not a shadow.
  9. Jean Dujardin wins Best Actor for The Artist. Another unsurprising win. Jean seems tickled to have won, and thanks the audience in French during his speech.
  10. Angelina Jolie presents Best Adapted Screenplay to The Descendants. Angie’s provocative pose and its subsequent imitation by Jim Rash (another Twitter favorite because of his role on Community) got a big laugh.

During the three-hour awards show, we tracked 2.05 million tweets about the Oscars, with the biggest spike at 18,718 tweets in one minute (during the Cirque du Soleil performance). These numbers are up quite a bit from last year, when the 2011 Oscars garnered 1.27 million tweets and a maximum spike of 11,780 tweets per minute.

The nominees with the most Twitter mentions during the show were:

  1. Meryl Streep – 74,793 tweets
  2. Octavia Spencer – 59,957
  3. Christopher Plummer – 41,107
  4. Jean Dujardin – 23,614
  5. Rooney Mara – 23,233
  6. Brad Pitt – 18,702
  7. Viola Davis – 17,651
  8. Woody Allen – 14,280
  9. George Clooney – 13,252
  10. Martin Scorsese – 11,328

The top three films nominated for Best Picture, by tweet volume:

  1. Hugo – 110,179 tweets
  2. The Artist – 78,509
  3. The Help – 23,585

For more information about our interactive explorer, read this blog post about how and what we tracked.

Written by Jenn D

February 26th, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Events,Trends

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What did Twitter say about the 2012 Academy Awards? Here’s a sneak peek!

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Want to know what Twitter talked about during this year’s Academy Awards broadcast? We’ve been tracking Oscars tweets live and have prepared a cool visualization of those tweets so you can see – as it happened – which Oscar-nominated movies, actors and directors Twitter is talking about throughout the show! Click here or on the image below to see the tweets. Read on for more about how and what we’re tracking.

We tracked all tweets about the 84th Academy Awards during the awards show broadcast from 8:30 p.m. EST through 11:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, February 26, 2012. This includes uses of the #Oscars hashtag, @TheAcademy Twitter account, and any general mentions of the Oscars or Academy Awards.

You can drill into tweets about nominees for the following six Oscar categories:

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role
  • Best Actress in a Leading Role
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role
  • Best Director

The large, colorful stream graph shows how many tweets are posted about each nominee every minute, grouped by award category. You can use the navigation bar at the top to change from one category to another. And you can scroll across the graph to see minute-by-minute details for that category. The smaller gray graph at the bottom shows overall Oscars-related tweet volume.

After the show, we posted our full analysis of Oscar night’s most buzzed-about people and events.

Written by Jenn D

February 26th, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Posted in Events,Trends

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Which artists generated the most Twitter buzz at the 2012 Grammy Awards?

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The 54th Annual Grammy Awards were held in Los Angeles last weekend on Sunday, February 12, 2012. More than 39 million viewers tuned in to watch their favorite bands, musicians and artists come together for a few hours during what many refer to as “music’s biggest night.”

During the broadcast on Sunday, the official #GRAMMYs hashtag was tweeted 2.1 million times by more than 700K people, generating a unique reach of nearly 60 million. At its peak, use of the #GRAMMYs hashtag spiked up to 18,000 tweets per minute.

Twitter buzzed about…

Check out this stream graph of tweets about the most popular artists (click through for the interactive version). Each colored layer represents tweets about one artist. The spikes on the graph illustrate tweet volume throughout the show.

The most-talked about artists during the 2012 Grammy Awards were:

  1. Adele: 340K tweets
  2. Chris Brown: 152K tweets
  3. Nicki Minaj: 85K tweets
  4. Rihanna: 81K tweets
  5. Taylor Swift: 68K tweets
  6. Whitney Houston: 66K tweets
  7. Bruno Mars: 60K tweets
  8. Foo Fighters: 52K tweets
  9. Lady Gaga: 43K tweets
  10. Katy Perry: 41K tweets

Whitney Houston passed away suddenly on Saturday, which had a big impact on this year’s Grammys. The show’s touching tribute to the singer generated a lot of buzz on Twitter as fans and friends remembered Whitney and her music; there were more than 66,000 tweets about Whitney during the show.

Adele was the night’s big winner, taking home all six of the Grammys for which she was nominated. She also garned the most Twitter attention of any artist; Adele was mentioned in 340K tweets last night! Many felt that Adele’s performance was the show’s best, especially since it was her first major appearance since she had vocal cord surgery last November. In particular, many Twitterers mentioned how strong her voice sounded, and how they preferred Adele’s simple vocal performance to some of the night’s other, more choreographed numbers.

Chris Brown ignited a great deal of controversy at this year’s awards, appearing at the Grammys for the first time since he was arrested for abusing his then-girlfriend Rihanna in 2009. The more than 150K tweets about his two Grammy performances last night ranged from disbelief and anger at his inclusion to support from his fans.

Nicki Minaj generated an entirely different kind of controversy with her red carpet entrance and subsequent performance of her new song, “Roman Holiday.” Viewer opinions varied, with some finding it interesting, bold or weird, while others (like the Catholic Church) found it offensive.

What did you think of the 2012 Grammy Awards? What was your favorite performance?

Interested in stream graphs? Give this paper by Byron and Wattenberg a read. 

Written by Jenn D

February 14th, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Posted in Events,Trends

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Snowmobiles, snowboards and skis: A recap of tweets about Winter X Games 2012

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Last weekend, we worked with ESPN to track tweets about the 2012 Winter X Games in Aspen, Colorado, held January 26 through January 29, 2012. It was a big event, accumulating 171,373 tweets over the four days of competition!

During last summer’s X Games, we tracked 188K tweets from 97K contributors, for an overall reach of 37.7 million. This year’s Winter X Games generated 171K tweets from 100K contributors and an overall reach of 37.9 million. Two days into these games, here were the stats:

Sadly, freeskier and X Games gold medalist Sarah Burke died a week before the games. ESPN aired a tribute for Sarah on Thursday night and the #CelebrateSarah hashtag was used in more than 3,500 tweets during the games.

Sunday, January 29, was a big day for the games, featuring the final competitions for two fan favorites – the Snowmobile Best Trick and Men’s Snowboard Superpipe. Athletes like Heath Frisby, Shaun White, and Justin Hoyer generated a lot of Twitter buzz, and Heath’s first-ever snowmobile front flip resulted in the highest tweet spike of the entire games (1,634 tweets per minute).

By the end of the Winter X Games, the most retweeted tweet was from @espn and referred to snowboarder Shaun White’s perfect score in the Snowboard Superpipe Final. It got 1,428 retweets and generated 3.3 million impressions.

It was a great four days! We’re already looking forward to next year.

Written by Jenn D

February 1st, 2012 at 3:25 pm

Posted in Events,Trends

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Golden Globes tweets reach 94 million Twitter users

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The results are in – the Golden Globes were held last night and the Twitter traffic was off the charts! TweetReach, in partnership with mhCarter Consulting and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, tracked and analyzed all of the tweets during the broadcast of the 69th annual awards show.

We watched for all mentions of Golden Globes during the broadcast and with close to 1 million tweets from almost 300,000 contributors generating over 2.2 billion impressions, the results came in at three times the Twitter volume we saw in 2011.

While “The Artist” and “The Descendants” walked away with most of the awards, what tweets drove the buzz? Check out the infographic below for the details!

TweetReach at the Golden Globes

Written by Dean Cruse

January 16th, 2012 at 7:45 am

TweetReach is going to the Golden Globes

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We’re very excited to announce that we’re partnering with mhCarter Consulting and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association to track tweets about the 69th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Sunday, January 15, 2012.

Jenn will be tweeting live from the event in Los Angeles on Sunday, and we’ll post the final Twitter analysis here on our blog next week.

Last year, we tracked tweets about the 2011 Golden Globe Awards. Glee dominated Twitter during last year’s show, generating the most retweets and highest spikes in conversation volume throughout the event. Other popular topics included The Social Network, Toy Story 3, The Big Bang Theory, Natalie Portman and Justin Bieber. Overall, we tracked 300,000 tweets with a reach of 31.5 million during the three-hour broadcast in 2011. The 2012 show is already on track to be much bigger.

The 68th Golden Globes were a lot of fun last year and we can’t wait to see what people will be tweeting about this year. Our early bets? Ricky Gervais will certainly cause a stir as the show’s host; he’s already generating a lot of buzz and averaging more than 300 retweets per tweet. Ryan Gosling has been the subject of hundreds of Tumblrs during the past few months and is nominated in two categories, so he’ll probably garner some attention at the event. Glee will likely make a strong showing again this year, as Twitter historically loves Glee and other shows targeted to a young adult audience. What do you think? Got any predictions for popular Twitter trends during this year’s Golden Globes telecast?

Read our full press release here.

Written by Jenn D

January 11th, 2012 at 8:35 am

Posted in Trends

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Can Twitter activity predict the winner of the presidential primaries?

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We often use TweetReach to track the success rates of TV shows and other major media events. We thought it would be interesting to analyze the tweets during last night’s Iowa Caucuses for the Republican nomination for President. As you know by now, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney beat Rick Santorum by just a few votes, and Ron Paul came in third. Could Twitter activity have been used to predict the winner?

Last Friday, we started tracking all tweets that mentioned any of a candidate’s Twitter accounts (personal and campaign), the major news networks’ coverage of the caucuses, and hashtags such as #iacaucus that were used by the major news media and others in their tweets.

Interestingly, the overall Twitter volume about the caucuses was pretty low. In fact, we often track more tweets in an hour about a single TV show than we have in five days about all nine candidates. Nevertheless, early on in the evening we predicted a win by Mitt Romney or Ron Paul based on early Twitter activity and retweets.

Overall tweet volume, the number of unique contributors (people who have tweeted about a topic), reach, exposure, and the retweet rate (average number of retweets per tweet) can be useful indicators for deciding what topics are most popular on Twitter. But can they help predict results in Iowa? Here’s how the data shook out for the six major candidates:

Based on overall reach, Romney, Santorum, and Paul came in as the top three candidates, mapping directly to the final caucus results. Based on this analysis, reach seems to be a good indicator of success. But, since much of this reach can be attributed to mentions by major news media accounts, it’s more likely that Twitter activity is merely descriptive of what is happening. Nevertheless, the percentage of total reach from the major candidates ended up being very close to the actual caucus results:

Also noteworthy, despite having over 2.5x the tweet activity of Romney or Santorum, Ron Paul only had the third highest reach. Paul also had over 1.5x the contributors and the highest retweet rate of the candidates, more likely an indication of his support among younger voters and their engagement on Twitter. But, a larger follower count and more activity on Twitter don’t necessarily help predict a winner.

Other fun facts, the most retweeted tweet in our analysis came from Ron Paul’s account, and mentions Jon Huntsman who didn’t actively campaign in Iowa:

And, the second-most retweeted tweet came from Robert Reich, professor at University of California at Berkeley and former United States Secretary of Labor:

Studies have shown that Americans use social media to follow politics. As the primary season unfolds, we’ll continue to analyze the Twitter activity of the major candidates and report back on what we find. In the mean time, we’d love your feedback!

Written by Dean Cruse

January 4th, 2012 at 1:02 pm