Oliver Snoddy, Twitter’s UK head of planning, on why brands must take advantage of the predictability of social surges around TV

By Jennifer Faull | Deputy Editor

November 25, 2013 | 4 min read

Brands must tap into the predictability and repeatability of the social media surges which happen around certain TV programmes if they are to engage with the ever-increasing TV audience using Twitter, according to Twitter’s UK head of planning Oliver Snoddy.

Speaking at the Admonsters Screens in London Snoddy revealed that the way people interact with TV programmes on Twitter varies by genre.

“Entertainment shows like The X Factor follow the plot line as you’d expect – something happens in the show and people tweet about it. Dramas are different, people tweet at the beginning and at the end while factual programme sees people tweet throughout.” he said.

He went on to stress that it is this predictability that brands must act upon.

“We often talk about real-time marketing on Twitter and TV creates a huge opportunity because it has that element of repeatability and predictability. If you know what that show is then you can predict when these surges of conversation are going to happen,” he said.

However, this intrinsic alignment between Twitter and TV was not something the network went out with a grand plan to achieve. Instead it is something that happened relatively organically and now Twitter finds itself at the intersection between public and conversational.

What is now surprising is the large and growing behaviours on the platform, according to Snoddy.

He revealed that today, 60 per cent of users say they use Twitter while watching TV, whether that be tweeting or just following along. Meanwhile 40 per cent of its traffic at peak time is actually about TV, which “really stresses how important TV is to Twitter”.

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Furthermore, 95 per cent of public conversations about TV happen on Twitter, versus blogs and forums.

“We think that by increasing the shared experience in the living room to potentially hundreds of thousands of people, there is a really powerful effect in terms of how that can drive your attention to tuning into TV or attention to brands. It’s the power of the crowd having an impact of where your attention goes,” he said.

Snoddy also demonstrated the power of the crowd, showing what really happens when people tweet along to a popular show.

“What we’ve been able to do for the first time is look at exposure on tweets and analyse the live reach,” he said, using The X Factor as an example.

“For the first episode of the X Factor, where a guy sang a song about messing his pants and Sharon Osbourne completely lost it, a lot of people were tweeting. We saw over 530,000 tweets for that episode and when we looked at those 530,000 tweets, the exposure in the UK alone was 18m. So suddenly there is a multiplier effect, a cascade across the platform.”

So what do brands have to do? Simply be a part of the conversations, urged Snoddy, exemplifying brands like Samsung who have already tapped into these predicable patterns and managed to become part of the conversations during shows like The X Factor.

Brands that also align themselves to shows with a passionate viewing audience – defined as an audience that is tweeting, retweeting, or responding to comments made on the site about a particular show – will reap the rewards.

Snoddy offered Surf’s sponsorship of The Only Way is Essex as an example. As a result of a prolific tweeting audience, seven out of 10 people were more aware of the brand’s sponsorship, with analytics showing there was a higher purchase intent.

Finally, marketers should optimise adverts for both Twitter and TV audiences.

“Every ad has a TV presence, but the ones that do well have been optimised for both screens,” he said, using the John Lewis #bearandhare ad and the Argos #giftforsanta spot as examples of brands succeeding in this area and “blurring the boundaries” between TV and social.

Last week, Twitter claimed that running TV ads alongside promoted tweets is 36 per cent more effective than TV advertising alone.

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