Trend line: Super Bowl comment volume varied throughout the day, but peaked after the final Giants touchdown, when about 400,000 comments were made in five minutes.
The reason is simple: “They will say [to advertisers] that they are not only selling you an audience, but selling you an audience that talks on social media,” thus generating more buzz for a product, says Tom Thai, head of marketing and business development at Bluefin.
And advertisers are keeping a closer eye on viewer reaction to their content. (A Super Bowl ad featuring David Beckham modeling his underwear line generated the most comments, with 109,000, 83 percent of which were from women. Coming in second was the Clint Eastwood-narrated Chrysler ad, which garnered 96,000 comments, 65 percent of which were from men, Bluefin said.) By this time next year, Super Bowl advertisers, after closely watching viewers’ positive and negative reactions, will likely order up changes in the versions of ads they post later in the game.
Alex Iskold, GetGlue’s founder and CEO, says it’s possible that something similar will happen with TV shows. As broadcasters analyze viewer reaction to shows and characters, Iskold says, the shows “will be proclaimed hits or canceled based on user feedback.” He also predicted that “shows might even change depending on user feedback in real-time.”
The TV industry isn’t just reacting to tweets, but also trying to leverage social networks in sophisticated ways for marketing purposes, says Gayle Weiswasser, vice president of social-media communications at Discovery Communications, the media company behind several TV networks, including the Discovery Channel, TLC, and Animal Planet. “TV networks are making their content more shareable and accessible across multiple platforms, and are paying close attention to what their audiences want and do,” she says.
This would be a natural extension of the rapidly growing role social media has in television. Already, some reality and contest shows are tweeting out highlights and showing comments from viewers during the show, and staff members at broadcasting companies routinely maintain Facebook pages and run tweet campaigns about shows to prime viewer interest.