This past Sunday, NBC’s live broadcast of The Golden Globe Awards generated more online activity on social sites than the Royal Wedding last year. The show inspired about 700,000 tweets with messages critiquing Gervais’ hosting duties (and apparent absence from much of the show), showing support for the miniseries winner Downtown Abbey, and spreading a GIF of Tina Fey ‘photobombing’ Amy Poehler to name a few trends. Due to the instantaneous nature of social networking sites, many have speculated that use of Twitter, and to a degree Facebook, could potentially increase the number of viewers who watch television live.
While there is not overwhelming support for the idea that ‘social television’ will cause an individual to watch a program, it does make the experience more interactive. At least for major television events (like awards shows, sporting events, or finales), this can create more of a draw to watch the live broadcast. This draw, however, may not be as powerful as it sounds, but a largely unexplored benefit is the ability for advertisers to interact directly with viewers.
By examining what trends on Twitter spike during various events, advertisers make assumption on whether their product will benefit from the conversation. For example, 48% of the conversation on Twitter during the globes revolved around the Red Carpet – clothing brands advertising could fit in with the conversation. Also, advertisers can look to the internet to see the immediate reactions to ad campaigns launched during events like the Super Bowl. This could be in an attempt to spread online buzz or to gauge if the ad is sending the intended message before it plays for the remainder of the year. While the financial affect Twitter can have on traditional advertisements is unclear, the added interaction with consumers is promising.