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New research by Twitter and Thinkbox, the commercial TV marketing body, has revealed how and why the UK is increasingly using Twitter while watching TV – and how advertisers can be a welcome part of their conversations.

‘#TVTwitter: how advertisers get closer to conversation’, launched today at Advertising Week Europe, offers valuable insights to advertisers who want to become part of the TV conversation taking place on Twitter and will help brands understand the emotional drivers of this behaviour as well as the potential business benefits.

The research follows many recent examples of major Twitter activity around TV, including the recent BRIT Awards, which saw a vast volume of Twitter conversation with 4.2 million Tweets about the show.

Key findings include:

Two types of hashtag

The research found that 3 in 4 people believe hashtags are searched for on Twitter because they have been seen on TV and it identified two ways in which people use Twitter hashtags around TV content: 
  • Punchlines – hashtags are used as a creative and funny way to sign off a tweet about a TV show
  • Sorting – hashtags are used to categorise conversations and as a way to find new content associated with the TV show. Users search for a hashtag to learn more, so brands need to make sure they have additional content ready and waiting
The desire for retweets

Although people like to think that they tweet for the sake of tweeting, getting retweets and responses is also important to them. Retweets demonstrate that other people agree with them and amplify their opinion. The research found that getting a retweet evokes a strong positive emotional reaction and that 76% thought other users made sure their tweets about TV were funny so they would be retweeted.

The importance of celebrity tweeters

Many TV stars are also prominent tweeters and the importance of proximity to celebrities came out strongly in this research with 69% claiming to like seeing celebrities talk about TV shows on Twitter and participants in the ethnographic research admitting they enjoyed the ability to interact with celebrities on Twitter.

How advertisers can plan for TV and Twitter

There are three levels of integration between TV and Twitter activity depending on a brand’s market and aims: 

  • Integration: where a TV campaign is planned and executed with specific Twitter content and activity built in and around it from the outset
  • Anticipation: being more thoughtful of how Twitter and TV will work together in a brand strategy.  Brands need to plan ahead for TV moments and prepare content to take advantage of it.  They need to include hashtags on their TV ads but have a clear purpose to them – e.g. driving people to a Promoted Trend to find out more information about a product and move consumers along the purchase journey
  • Association: at the simplest level, if a brand is not advertising on TV, it can still be associated with it as its customers will be watching TV and there is an opportunity to contribute
The research was conducted by global research agency BrainJuicerŽ and combined ethnographic and quantitative research. It featured an ethnographic study of 18 households to understand their combined TV and Twitter behaviour together with follow-up interviews with the participants to discuss the observed behaviours and findings from the ethnography. A quantitative study with a sample of 1,000 people (800 Twitter users and 200 non-Twitter users) qualified the ethnographic insights and tested perceptions of brands that are active on TV and/or Twitter.

Neil Mortensen, Research and Planning Director at Thinkbox: “TV has always been a social medium and sparked an enormous amount of conversation both in and out of the living room.  Twitter has introduced another way of doing what comes naturally to us as humans – sharing and conversing – and for that reason is for many people becoming an important part of the TV experience. This research will help advertisers understand more about and get the most out of this blossoming relationship.”

Bruce Daisley, Managing Director of Twitter UK, said: “We know that Twitter users are passionate about TV – take a look at Twitter’s trending topics any night of the week, and chan
ces are you’ll see multiple TV shows trending. »

« This research tells us more than ever before about how and why viewers are using Twitter as an accompaniment to TV. It’s fascinating to hear how they engage with hashtags, retweets and celebrities to join the conversations about their favourite shows. »

« We’re looking forward to seeing how programme makers and advertisers use this information to connect with audiences in new and exciting ways.”