Twitter, Broadcasters and a Sharknado

Over the past few weeks I’ve spoken with quite a few broadcasters about how social media can be used.  Along the way, I pulled together quite a few resources, linked below, that can be helpful to broadcasters. While this happening, the world was enveloped in a Sharknado.  The success of this less than B movie created by the SyFy channel opened the eyes of many in broadcasting to the power of social media to do what is most important to them, drive ratings and make money.

Let’s start with the resources:

Next, let’s talk about the different audiences within the world of broadcasting.  There are two different sides here, the ‘talent,’ into which I’m lumping the programming and those who create the content for TV and radio station sites and social, and the “Business,” which includes the general managers and sales teams.  While everyone is interested in ratings, the talent is also right now interested in other metrics like engagement.  The Business side is all about ratings, and all about dollars…right now.  If it’s not driving revenue or ratings, it’s a cost and they don’t have extra dollars to spend right now.  That’s why many of the stats I found during my research were so interesting. Let’s start with ratings. Twitter can help them. How? According to Nielsen:

So, an 8.5%  increase in Twitter volume = 1% increase in ratings for audience aged 18-34 and a 14% increase in Twitter volume = 1% increase in ratings for audiences aged 35-49.

That looks interesting, but it gets better, it’s not the same across all types of programming:

If you really want to increase ratings via Twitter, it looks like “competitive reality” programming is where to go according to the chart above, again from Nielsen, via MarketingLand.

Lastly, we can’t talk TV and Twitter and not reference Sharknado.


The above shows how Craig Engler, SVP at @Syfy digital and runs the @syfy account, used Twitter leading into the airing of Sharknado to start building the buzz among the network’s followers. According to articles at the time, 111,000 people tweeted 318,232 times during the broadcast  according to SGI yes owned by Nielsen. Tweets per minute during the broadcast reached 5,010, according to Topsy Pro.

Celebrities even got into the mix with the likes of Patton Oswalt, Seth Myers, Erin Andrews and even Mia Farrow tweeting about this instant phenomenon.

In this case ratings for the first broadcast didn’t match the buzz, BUT according to Wikipedia, “Syfy repeated Sharknado on Thursday, July 18, 2013, one week after its premiere. The airing was watched by 1.89 million viewers, an increase of 38% over its initial airing.[13] On July 27th, a 3rd airing of Sharknado got 2.1 million viewers, continuing the increase in popularity of the movie and setting a record for most watched Original Movie encore in Syfy history.”

Syfy said that 566,000 of those viewers were between the ages of 18 and 49, which is about 30 percent better than the numbers for the channel’s other wacky movies this year,” showing growth in their key demo and in the sweet spot of Twitter.  Looks to me like Syfy knows their audience.

Takeaway. Know your audience. Get tweeting. Get ratings. Make money.


The News Cycle and Volume of Coverage of Scandals/Crises and When They Fall Apart

The Washington Post “WonkBlog” today, took a look at “scandals” and how they are covered using research from political scientist Brendan Nyhan. While this is focused on how they look at scandals, it can be applied to most ‘crisis’ situations that we deal with.

This is demonstrated using the media coverage surrounding the “IRS Scandal” in targeting some groups for scrutiny based on political affiliation.  The point is that when scandals actually turn out to be much less than originally thought, the volume of coverage to communicate that is significantly less than there was in kicking off the scandal. See in the chart below how as evidence that contradicted the original narrative was introduced, it was covered much less widely than the original.


Image from Wash Post Wonk Blog


Conclusion:  Much more evidence to get your story out, and get it right up front.