My friend and interactive guru Ryder Daniels, principal of JVKelly Group, just shared a really interesting article from Networked Insights, a company that measures brand engagement on social networks.
It contrasts the top 10 TV shows among 18-49 year olds from two sources: traditional TV viewership (Nielsen), and engagement in the show via social media (defined as shows that were commented on, linked to, shared or rated).
The table above (click to enlarge) shows you the results. In a nutshell:
- Half of the shows appear on both lists (Gray's Anatomy, Dancing with the Stars, Two and a Half Men, CSI Miami, House)
- For the shows in common, the rankings are different. Grays is #1 in broadcast, but #8 in social neworks interaction. Two and a Half Men is #1 in social, but #5 on TV-apparently due to an avid online "quote following" - people who follow quotes from the show.
- Desperate Housewives - #2 on TV - doesn't come up on top 10 list - why? I would've assumed people would want to discuss their "guilty pleasure" online, particularly if they could do so anonymously. And it seems like the storyline would stimulate avid speculation and engagement.
- The Office also doesn't pop up on the social list, which is very surprising to me. It's a hit show, people seem very engaged with the characters, etc. What's not to discuss?
Networked Insights wisely raises a great point for brands: If you were a brand marketer, would this matter to you? Would you shift your ad budget to shows that capture more attention after the fact online, or keep it with the tried true on TV proper?
That point seems right on to me.
But I think there's a bigger point too. If you're trying to maximize the brand's connection with the content (not just buy eyeballs) and you're trying to pick between 2 equally rated shows (say, Housewives and Two and a Half), if the rates are the same, wouldn't you rather buy the show (Two and a Half in this case) that has the "free gift with purchase" of a large audience engaging in the content online?
Pushing the argument a step further, shouldn't Two and a Half charge more (instead of pricing at Housewives' level) to reflect the added value of the audience engaging in social media?
The argument can get a bit sticky at this point - why should a buyer of TV pay for online engagement? Shouldn't that come out of the online budget? Biggest challenge of all: what value does social engagement with a TV show really contribute to a brand that's just advertising on the show? (and why should I pay more to get it).
In my heart I believe content that stimulates social engagement is worth more for an advertiser; hopefully some research will be done to corroborate my gut feel.
I also wonder if the shows (like the Office) that aren't currently generating a lot of social behavior represent an opportunity for a brand (one currently advertising on the show? a new one?) to enable social connection around the show.