Twitter is the new sofa

Broadcasters have been urged by Twitter to get to grips with its hashtags and start using the medium more effectively to stimulate viewing by creating buzz around their programs.

Speaking at the Future TV Advertising Forum in London at the end of November, Twitter UK’s head of broadcast partnerships Dan Biddle stressed that by managing the hashtags that highlight key words, phrases or topics more effectively, broadcasters could connect their existing viewers and pull in new ones by creating interest around the content they are distributing.

“We are no longer alone when watching the TV,” said Biddle. “We have the opportunity to connect with people all over the world watching the same programme at the same time.”

Biddle pointed out that people were tweeting a lot about TV anyway. During peak viewing times, 40 percent of all tweets were about TV shows. There is now plenty of evidence that such tweets drive viewing, with Biddle citing 71 percent as the proportion of people who go on to watch a TV program after seeing a social media impression about it.

Broadcasters could amplify this effect if they start actively engaging with and directing Twitter activity around their programs. In fact, they could make Twitter an extended and distributed TV guide serving recommendations that carry greater conviction because they come either from friends or people trusted as independent sources. Biddle described TV hashtags as “the ultimate bat signal."

Twitter, for its part, has been engaging with TV and broadcasting to exploit its popularity to generate increased traffic and usage. Biddle himself was poached from the BBC to coordinate such activity in the UK, and Twitter has since strengthened its media team, notably by appointing Ben Grossman, editor-in-chief of the venerable trade magazine Broadcasting & Cable, as Head of Global Operations, Twitter Media last month.