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Could Twitter's 'Sharknado' Effect Help Your Business?

television . / Credit: Television Image via Shutterstock

Businesses looking to embrace social media for building their brands might be take a lesson from the impact Twitter seems to be having on television shows.

For better or worse, television stations have found an unlikely friend or sometime foe in social networking. A new study has found that Twitter conversations can greatly influence TV ratings of a given show. 

Call it the "Sharknado" effect where Twitter interaction about the Syfy movie increased ratings of the movie when it was replayed on the network days after initially airing. 

Why people are tuning into certain shows is up for debate, but there is no debating the changes social media conversations have on ratings. The researchers found that the volume of tweets about a given TV show caused a significant change for 29 percent of the shows surveyed for the research.  

[Is Twitter the Next TV?]

"Using time series analysis, we saw a statistically significant causal influence indicating that a spike in TV ratings can increase the volume of tweets, and, conversely, a spike in tweets can increase tune-in," said Paul Donato, chief research officer at Nielsen, which conducted the research. "This rigorous, research-based approach provides our clients and the media industry as a whole with a better understanding of the interplay between Twitter and broadcast TV viewing."

The study came to those conclusions by examining minute-by-minute trends for 221 prime-time television shows. The number of tweets about a given show was directly tied to the ratings of that show for 48 percent of the sampled episodes.  

"These results substantiate what many of our TV partners have been telling us anecdotally for years: Namely, that Twitter drives tune-in, especially for live, linear television programming," said Ali Rowghani, chief operating officer at Twitter. "As the world's preeminent real-time social communication medium, Twitter is a complementary tool for broadcasters to engage their audience, drive conversation about their programming, and increase tune-in."

Broadcasters have taken notice, Donato said. A number of networks and media companies have increased spending on social media outreach with fans as a way to improve ratings and interactions with fans.

Follow David Mielach on Twitter @D_M89. Follow us @bndarticlesFacebook or Google+. Originally published on BusinessNewsDaily.