Why The Voice Is So Successful When It Comes to Twitter Hashtags

Social platform studies reality TV tweets

The Voice is one of the most popular reality television series today, thanks not only to the fans who watch the show but also to those who actively discuss it on social media.

Twitter's research team looked at half a season of tweets around the top eight reality TV shows—American Idol, The Voice, Master Chef, America's Got Talent, Dancing With the Stars, American Ninja Warrior, So You Think You Can Dance? and Survivor—with a specific focus on the use of hashtags. When it came to The Voice, Twitter discovered the following:

  • Those who used the official #TheVoice hashtag tweeted on average 1.3 times more than those who didn't.
  • Those who used a #team hashtag that showed allegiance to a particular contestant or coach averaged 2.6 times more tweets than those who didn't use a #team hashtag.
  • Among viewers who use #team hashtags, 16 percent tweet each episode.
  • Twenty-seven percent of live Twitter conversations around the show included hashtags that were promoted during the broadcast like #VoiceSave or #VoiceBattles.
  • One of the most successful Twitter days for The Voice was on April 28 when the show encouraged users to tweet #VoiceSave to stop their favorite artist from getting the boot during the Top 8 results episode. About 210,000 viewers sent a total of 1.1 million tweets, according to Nielsen Twitter TV ratings, which were viewed 13.5 million times.

"Two-thirds of all social media conversations are around TV content," NBCUniversal's evp of advertising sales Scott Schiller said. "The social conversations around the water cooler today are happening on these platforms."

In general, Twitter's study found the most successful hashtags for reality shows included one or more of these three factors:

  • The tweet hashtag included the show name like #sytycdvillans or #SurvivorMerge.
  • It was a "team" hashtag—like #TeamMeryl or #TeamAdam—that showed loyalties to specific competitors.
  • It was a longer hashtag of 15 to 17 characters that gave some context—#BoxOfChocolates, for instance, or #CellosThatRock.

"The goal of the analysis was to actually provide our media partners with real levers to enhance their social presence," Twitter global media and agency research director Anjali Midha said. "We want to find out how do we harness Twitter, and how do we make the viewing experience even better for the audience."

Schiller said that part of the The Voice's success is its shareability online. That could mean clips from the show or custom content created for brands like Nissan, Unilever's Clear, Starbucks or Kohl's. The media company has been harnessing its social media clout through its Social Sync program, which allows brands to buy social media campaigns along with its television buys. In total, 30 percent of all NBCU cross-platform partnerships include a social element.

In the fourth quarter of last year, for instance, The Voice ran a custom video campaign around Adam Levine and the Nissan GT-R with on-air and digital videos. Tweets around the content were promoted with Twitter and Facebook, and it outperformed expectations in the first few days, according to Schiller.

"I think the reason why it worked was the custom content was authentic," Schiller said. "It didn't feel like it was an ad even though it was a product. It felt like it was something integrated into the show, and Nissan was part of the show."

However, Midha pointed out that while tailored hashtags work across all genres on Twitter, the study was specifically done for reality TV. She is interested in looking at other categories, in addition to looking at whether too many hashtags around one program can cause "diminishing returns." But since there are very few shows that use multiple hashtags, that data isn't in yet.