How To Build A Better Second-screen Experience With Twitter

December 6th, 2017 | ACA Team, Association of Canadian Advertisers

woman using smartphone

When marketers think of Twitter, it’s only natural they wonder what consumers are tweeting about. But Canadians on the platform are less interested in communicating via 280 characters and more focused on what they’re reading and watching.

When it comes to TV-loving Twitter users, Canadians by and large are content consumers, rather than creators, says Alyson Gausby, Head of Research, Twitter.

At a recent ACA webinar, Gausby presented the findings from a survey that looked at how Canadians use the social site as a companion to traditional TV (also known as second-screen behaviour). The results are fascinating.

Building out your Twitter TV companion content?

Here’s what Canadians are doing on the platform, by category:

  • Sports: Reading tweets about the action as it happens; following players and teams; following experts for analysis; following and searching for hashtags; and watching highlights and videos.
  • Award shows: Reading tweets about the awards in real time; looking for photos from the event; and looking for photos and content from the red carpet and pre-show.
  • Regularly scheduled programming: searching for recommendations (36% of users found a recommendation on Twitter); looking for user-generated memes and official behind-the-scenes content; and following along to make sure they don’t miss plot points. This is consistent across comedy, drama and reality TV.

Working with Fuse Insights, Twitter surveyed 1,800 Canadians in a quantitative and qualitative survey and found that three-quarters of Canadians – approximately eight million users – use the site to search for all things TV.

These Canadians are more likely to be seeking out conversations, rather than posting or tweeting about it themselves, Gausby says. For example, last year there were more than 300,000 tweets about The Bachelor, while more than one million people searched for content.

It’s a subtle shift in how brands view the platform. When there’s a TV show or live event happening (like an award show or sporting event) people are hungry for, well, more.

They go online to get expert analysis (in the case of sports); follow the stars, watch their fellow fans’ reactions, and make sure they aren’t missing anything crucial (like those blink-and-you’ll-miss-it plot points in complex dramas).

It’s a huge opportunity for brands to be part of the conversation by integrating themselves into the content audiences are watching on the second screen in fun and unique ways. For example, Gausby pointed to a 2016 Airbnb campaign that ran during the Oscars. Since the award show was sponsored by another major hotel chain, the startup was unable to reach consumers on traditional TV. But rather than staying silent during a major topic of conversation, the brand took to Twitter and asked people to share what movie set or scene they wish they could live in. From chilling under the sea, Little Mermaid style, to The Martian’s hostile setting to Bill Murray’s favourite sail boat, thousands of people tweeted and retweeted #LiveInTheMovies.

Airbnb then found a property that matched the users’ locale and tweeted it back along with a voucher, should the original poster be interested in booking a room. Arianna Huffington, Google and even the major film studios came on board, and the vast majority of press coverage included mentions of Airbnb. The result was a 10% lift in positive brand sentiment following the activation. It worked, Gausby said, because it tapped into the narrative and added an extra layer of enjoyment for consumers.

TV watching can be a solitary, sometimes isolated activity, but social media can help foster a sense of kinship around shared passions, Gausby says.

“There are so many opportunities to tap into communities [built] around shows,” she says. “We’ve found that TV and Twitter are better together.”