In the US today tens of millions of people are talking publicly about what they watch on TV via real time social media activity. From the consumer perspective, TV has organically become an interactive medium. From a business standpoint, the sudden presence of an at-scale, real time audience feedback loop creates massive new opportunities and challenges for content producers and marketers.

In a talk from the 2013 Bazaarvoice Summit, Deb Roy, Associate Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Chief Media Scientist at Twitter, highlighted some concepts and trends in this emerging space. By understanding the power of television as the primer for social conversations, marketers can execute advertising campaigns that harness the power and popularity of social TV; while at the same time zeroing in on audience members who can provide brands priceless consumer insight data and amplification.

Socially connected television

There is a new type of media consumer – someone that watches traditional television programs and then uses social media to discuss the programs. Sound familiar? It should. According to Nielson research – 19 million unique people in the U.S. composed 263 million tweets about live TV in Q2 2013 alone. Roy defines the intersection of these 2 mediums as an entirely new medium itself: Social TV. According to Roy, “Social TV will reshape the media landscape and the world of marketing.”

During his talk, Professor Roy described this new form of media as a rebirth of the TV conversation. Television programs were traditionally a siloed experience. But with the advent of social media, we are seeing a re-socialization of TV. TV is driving conversation and behavior, that behavior is effecting how people decide what to watch, buy, eat, etc. This relates to marketers because traditional paid media on television is now carrying over and driving the conversations on social media. An example Roy discussed in his talk was the Sun Drop brand.  Last year the soda brand ran a comedic advertisement on music themed television networks: Fuse, MTV, BET, etc. Because the ad was themed appropriately for the networks, the video received a lot of social shares among viewers. The social activity that reverberated from the ad was arguably more beneficial than the viewers who actually saw the live ad. This intersection of paid and earner media is the reason social TV will be so powerful in the coming years.

Targeting based on affinity

What happened when we look at all of this social data at-scale? According to Roy, Social TV offers marketers the opportunity to understand consumer sentiment at a very large scale. One example Roy then discussed was what he referred to as “the most influential Super Bowl Ad on Twitter.” During the 2013 Super Bowl, Dodge ran an ad called “Farmer” featuring a sentimental message about Dodge trucks. By drilling into the data behind this ad’s social activity, marketers were able to understand valuable insights about the people discussing the commercial. Thanks to Big Data, marketers were able to learn that this ad specifically was popular among politically active fans of country music who talk about retirement and shop at Walmart. Those are very specific and actionable insights for Dodge marketers. Consider the impact of applying this system to every broadcast of this particular advertisement, not just during the Super Bowl. Or what if we apply this concept to every television advertisement that appears? The insights that social media offer marketers are limitless.

Social media offers marketers more than just another channel from which to share information. Thanks to social, consumers are more vocal about TV, products, and brands than ever. Social TV is just one ways that consumers are changing the marketplace. Social media offers brands and retailers a 24/7 focus group that includes thousands of willing participants. The user-generated content consumers share on social media offers marketers valuable insights that can drive real business results. Building campaigns that work with this behavior will lead to more successful implementations of paid and earned media.

This post is based on a talk from the 2013 Bazaarvoice Summit. The Summit brings together the world’s foremost brand marketers, social strategists, media planners, and social business thinkers, like Deb Roy, to discuss the future of social marketing. To learn more about attending the Bazaarvoice Summit click here.