How Does Facebook Affect TV Viewership?

By Justin Lafferty 

Facebook has been pushing users to share more of what they love, especially through structured status updates. Users can now post visual stories that say they’re watching “Game of Thrones,” or “The Big Bang Theory,” and those preferences will be added to users’ Timelines under favorite shows. But does liking a show’s Facebook page necessarily correlate to watching it? In a recent study, CitizenNet discovered that a 3 percent increase in likes for a show’s page usually translates into a 1 percent bump in viewership.

CitizenNet, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer in the field of ads, studied 77 television shows from 2011 and 2012, focusing on the time around season premieres, when interest in shows is usually at its highest. It studied more than 20 metrics provided by Facebook’s insights tool, comparing them with Nielsen viewership numbers using linear regression.

CitizenNet found that usually, Facebook activity did lead to increased viewership. Taking into account metrics such as click-through rate, people talking about this, and other figures, CitizenNet came up with a value for predicted viewership and compared it with how many people actually watched the show, according to Nielsen.

CitizenNet then wanted to pare it down and just focus on two metrics for predicted viewership: total number of people who have liked the show’s page (awareness) and the average click-through rate of a page’s content (intent). The point CitizenNet makes is that it’s not enough to simply get likes and manage greater awareness, but pages have to produce content that will encourage people to engage.

The company found that by comparing likes and click-through rates with Nielsen ratings, it showed again that Facebook activity does have a correlation with viewership.

CitizenNet commented on what this means for all brands and marketers, not just those in the television category:

It’s unfortunate that so many marketers are caught up in the myriad of measures and scores that come out of online advertising. As we have shown, many online metrics are correlated with each other, so not having a useful dependent variable makes some people come to the conclusion that social media metrics are a waste of time. By looking to see how online influences offline, we can see that successful marketers are just trying to appeal to people’s nature – regardless of the medium.

It’s also unfortunate that so many marketers have focused purely on cost-efficiency and Facebook likes. As much as every industry needs to stretch their ad dollars, there’s no use in advertising to the wrong people. Our advice is to start building simple benchmarks of past performance, with an eye to overall CTR (not just paid, but organic, as well), as well as cost efficiency.

Readers: How often do you post about TV shows on Facebook?

Charts courtesy of CitizenNet. Image courtesy of Shutterstock.