The Olympics are about to start in conjunction with one of the biggest social TV experiments done to date. Up until now Twitter has dominated the social TV space, leveraging the power of the hashtag and negotiating a strong visual presence on many television shows and inside social TV apps. While most television shows have a Facebook page, this premium social network has not aggressively pursued a presence on TV in the same way Twitter has. However, NBC has struck a deal for on-air integration with both social media during the Olympics. Facebook will carry Games themed content and have a team in London that will “mine digital discussions…for a “talk meter” which will provide an on-air window to what viewers are saying.” There will be Twitter conversations with or without an official deal (hashtags always make sure that happens) but there is also going to be a special content page such as the one created for NASCAR. This “experiment” inspired this issue of From Search to Screen that will take a look at the fundamental differences between Facebook and Twitter and how television shows (and other screen media) can take advantage of both.
How Twitter & Facebook Are Different
Twitter is a microblogging site, while Facebook is a fully loaded social network. Both offer a wealth of opportunity for social media marketing for screen media like television shows/events, feature films and webseries. One is not really better than the other; but their differences offer unique opportunities.
Shared interests vs shared relationships
A fundamental difference between these two platforms is that connections and conversations on Twitter are primarily based on shared interests (users may have never met face to face) while Facebook users usually know each other in some capacity (friends, family, co-workers). This fact is the key to how screen media can successfully engage with members of each network.
Twitter is a place to exploit both casual and passionate interest in your series or movie as well as whatever topics/subjects/stars it may feature. Keyword research can help map out potential elements of your project that can trigger this interest (more on this in a future post). Facebook, on the other hand, is about building relationships and a community about your project, creating a hub around which people can gather and return repeatedly. You build direct relationships with fans by providing authentic responses and unique content and engagement opportunities. Their activity on your page/wall then draws in their community and leverages their relationships.
140 characters vs 63,206
Tweets and Facebook status updates are perhaps the closest functionality shared by both platforms. However, tweets are limited to 140 characters while Facebook increased its status update ceiling to over 60,000 characters late last year. On Twitter this means you need to be concise and aware of all the shortcuts and abbreviations that can help you convey a meaningful message (something that newbies often find very intimidating). While some may see this as a negative it has set the tone on Twitter of a quick and short communication style. The Facebook “limit” encourages lengthier prose. It is in keeping with its typically longer engagement times (recent statistics say average visits on Facebook are about 23 minutes compared to about 11 on Twitter).
Real-time vs take your time
Twitter is known for its quick and current updates. Journalists often look to Twitter to get insight into hot trends and breaking news because it is often the first place these appear. But then they are gone, pushed down in the feed as rapidly as they appeared under a mountain of new tweets (in fact you can only go back about a week). Twitter is great for in the moment, real-time storytelling/communication. It is one of the reasons it works so well for social TV that is synchronous to broadcast. In fact, it is one of the driving factors for a resurgence in live TV watching. People don’t want to see “spoilers” in their Twitter feed and want to participate/watch the drama as it unfolds on both screens. But while it is reported that “92% of all activity and engagement with Tweets happens within the first hour of the post being made…Facebook status updates can have interaction [that goes] on for hours, and even days.” Facebook conversations are often much easier to follow on both profile and page walls and to revisit after the fact. This creates a completely different kind of engagement pattern. Here is an example of a conversation from the Facebook page for the popular CBC series Heartland for the season 5 finale which aired on March 26, but is still getting comments in July (over 520 and counting):
Horizontal conversations vs vertical experiences
As the above examples show, Twitter lets you skim across the surface quickly following and participating in current conversations, leveraging the power of hashtags. Facebook, on the other hand, lets you dig deep into past and present conversations on profile and page timelines as well as a wealth of other kinds of content: photos, videos, and even games (such the award winning Heartland Ranch). Facebook provides many opportunities for screen media content creators to engage visitors and build deeper relationships with them through the experiences it can provide. Not every series or movie needs this kind of enrichment, but a highly involved audience like that of Heartland is hungry for more and Facebook provides that capacity.
External vs internal metrics tools
Data hound that I am I, of course, also need to mention the metrics that are possible with each platform and how these can be used. Twitter does not yet provide internal data to its users, but there are many tools out there that can help you analyze your followers and your tweet activity (i.e. Twenty Feet) and provide insight into such helpful statistics as to what are the best times to tweet (i.e. Tweriod) and who you should be following yourself (i.e. Crowdbooster). Facebook pages have their own metrics available to admins through Facebook Insights. There are also other external tools that provide invaluable data on many social networks, such as SocialMention and the new social media integration in Google Analytics. Whatever platform you choose to be the focus of your social media marketing campaign (Twitter, Facebook or both) it is important to gather data from all relevant sources to provide the best understanding possible about what is working and what is not with your followers and fans. Listening and learning from your audience and their behaviour is the best way to grow it.
A Quick Recap
For screen media folk Twitter’s strengths provide an opportunity for real-time audience engagement synchronous to broadcast as well as connections with those who share interests relevant to your project. Facebook gives you a chance to build deeper relationships with individual audience members and their communities at a more leisurely pace. Invaluable data is available on both to provide you with the necessary information to test difference kinds of engagement and see what your audience responds to best. Whichever you choose, it is undeniable social media provide an important opportunity to give your audience exactly what they want if you listen carefully enough.
What Do You Think?
Have you used Twitter or Facebook for audience engagement and/or promotion of your TV show, web series, movie or other screen media project? Do you have further insights about the differences between the two platforms? Do you have ideas about how to leverage these inherent differences? I’d love to hear from you. Share your thoughts, ideas, questions below or send them to me at annelise (at) veria.ca or on Twitter @veriatweet.
Next issue: 10 SEO Tips for Film, TV & Web Video
Or revisit the previous issue: Top 10 Posts Revisited: Felicia Day, Social TV, SFETC & More