Twitter being used to build and sustain audience attention, says broadcast partnerships chief

twitter thumbEvidence is emerging that Twitter is increasingly being used in a variety of ways by broadcasters to build audience loyalty and sustain viewing numbers through giving audiences a feeling of connectedness to their fellow spectators, according to Dan Biddle, head of broadcast partnerships in the UK at the social networking site.

Speaking at the IBC conference in Amsterdam, Biddle said that TV stars such as Ant and Dec in the UK are increasingly using Twitter to connect to their audiences, said Biddle, citing the example of the duo’s use of Twitter on their Saturday Night Takeaway show.

“Tweets don’t disappear down a well,” said Biddle. “Twitter is the way [TV stars] can create a ‘feedback loop’ with audiences,” he said.

Increasingly, said Biddle, TV talent are using Twitter to interact with audiences and build a conversation about their shows, but content creators are using Twitter in a variety of ways to provide additional content around shows and movies. He cited the example of movie director Duncan Jones using Twitter to provide a “DVD-like” commentary around his movie Moon during an airing of the film on TV. ‘Live Tweetalongs’ have also been conducted by the likes of basketball player Kobe Bryant to accompany coverage of NBA games in the US, he said.

While much attention to date has focused on live events, Biddle said that, for pre-recorded shows,  Twitter could still have a significant role to play. He cited the example of TV star Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall used using to build a campaign around the #fishfight campaign around unsustainable feeding of prawns for sale in supermarkets. Fearnley-Whittingtall called for viewers to send their Tweets on the subject to supermarket chains during an ad break in his show, leading to a spike in activity around the feed.

Twitter can also be used to sustain the attention of audiences by giving them a feeling of connectedness to other viewers, according to Biddle. In the US, Fox News ran a ‘Tweets per minute’ counter onscreen to accompany the US presidential debates, and Biddle said that Fox was the only broadcaster to increase audience share during the course of the debates, with this as the only point of differentiation in its coverage. “It creates the sensation of ‘I’m not alone watching this – I’m in a room sharing what I’m watching’,” he said.

“Every Tweet is a unit of power,” said Biddle. “Tweets can say ‘if you’re not watching this, why not?'”

Eighty per cent of UK Twitter users use the social networking site on mobile, according to Biddle. Sixty per cent of Tweets during prime time are about TV, he said.

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