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Nielsen Scores With Twitter

Nowadays, watching a TV show just doesn’t feel complete without simultaneously telling everyone your thoughts about it on Twitter. Today, the Nielsen rating company has finally taken that phenomenon to the next level, by attempting an exact measurement.

What we’re talking about are Nielsen’s new Twitter TV Ratings, which will attempt to assess shows’ popularity by the activity they generate on Twitter. How can that be measured, you ask? The key variables of this formula will include the number of Tweets that mention a show and the number of people who see each of these messages.

Put into context, the message is clear: broadcasters can no longer ignore social media content as relevant. For years, cult shows, like “Breaking Bad,” have dominated popular conversations despite drawing modest ratings. But now, this metric represents an attempt to bridge that disconnect.

The nature of social media influence forces us to examine the crucial differences between viewership and engagement. The former might lead to high TV ratings; but the individuals who are the most connected with their favorite shows—and who drive engagement among other people on social media—represent the goldmine for networks. These high influencers have the ability to affect the attitudes and behaviors of others, and for that reason, social media analytics can pinpoint more precise information about individuals, their true levels of fandom, the action they drive, and when.

Which of these two do you think is more important for TV networks to pay attention to? Nielsen’s traditional viewership numbers? Or social media engagement on a Twitter wall?

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