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Is Twitter losing ground for social TV engagements?

Twitter has held a special position with television advertisers and programmers, but new research as well as increased competition suggest this role could be weakening. 

In the past seven months, the percentage of consumers who have used Facebook to vote, post, share or comment about something on TV has increased from 70.4 percent to 75.6 percent, while 25.4 percent have used Twitter in the same way, down 8.6 percentage points or 25 percent, according to the latest SocialTV Index Report from Ring Digital. 

?The big shocker for me was how fast Twitter seems to be losing ground,? said Brian Ring, founder of Ring Digital llc. ?For advertisers, I still think Twitter?s TV ad program, Amplify, is a good bet, but frankly I?d treat that a bit like an ad in Variety Magazine. 

?Sure, you?ll hit everyday consumers - but the real benefit of doing a paid program on Twitter is that you?re going to hit the influencers,? he said. ?Whereas with Facebook - you?re talking about B2C advertising, more comparable to a People Magazine. 

?So that?s a different strategy both in terms of positioning and messaging and of course also in terms of budget allocations.?

TV viewing evolves?
With the report indicating that more than 25 percent of all consumers have participated in social TV behavior, up slightly from seven months ago, this suggests that sitting in front of the TV and being active on social media at the same time is a behavior that is here to stay. 

However, whether that social media platform of choice will be Facebook, Twitter or one of a growing number of competitors remains to be seen. For example, recently a number of sports marketers have been using Snapchat to drive engagement around games being broadcast on TV (see story). 

Twitter has had a special relationship with broadcast TV. Programmers across sports, news, live events and popular shows rely on the platform to engage with fans, providing breaking news in between shows and driving the social conversation during programming.

This relationship has helped Twitter attract major brand advertisers looking to extend the reach of their TV ads to the growing number of viewers engaged on social media. 

However, Ring Digital?s research suggests Twitter may need to do more to fully realize its relationship with TV. 

Longer conversations?
One challenge Twitter faces is that Facebook has significantly deeper financial resources, which could make it difficult for Twitter to keep up in terms of bringing out new technologies and services. 

Facebook, besides its sheer size, is also a more visual platform and tends to support longer conversations, something that is becoming more important as social media becomes more ingrained in consumer behavior. 

Diet Coke used a tweetable bingo board during the Oscars.

?Conversations last longer on Facebook,? said Matt Rednor, CEO and founder of Decoded Advertising. ?Twitter is still great for real-time, in-the-moment events, but those are few and far between now. 

?As our viewing has become more on-demand, so has our conversation,? he said. ?Pre and post show conversation is much more likely to find me on Facebook, where as I would have to search for it on Twitter.
?People aren't just talking about TV anymore, they're showing, speaking through visuals. Whether it's using emojis or sharing clips from a show or broadcasting a video of their viewing experience, people are more likely to share that on Facebook or even Instagram or Snapchat than they are on Twitter.?

Narrow focus
Twitter may be seeing the effects of focusing too much on its real-time capabilities. 

 ?Twitter is right to start extending its focus from events and campaigns, to continuity and cadence,? said Stevie Dove, director, of SapientNitro Social Studio. ?For a while now - maybe too long -  they?ve concentrated on owning the live campaign moment, versus the everyday moment. 

?If they can create better products for that, they will see a lot more traction, and could even win in engagement with some of its new pricing options,? she said. ?The more functionality they can create for participation, the quicker they will get there. 

?The more opportunities to do this with influencers and celebrities, Facebook will really need to start worrying.?

Twitter is clearly attempting to keep ahead with a recent flurry of new offerings, including the live-streaming service Periscope, TV Timelines and Curator. 

Periscope has already seen some successes, with a number of brands quickly jumping on board (see story). Going forward, Twitter would be wise to continue to focus on building up its video offerings. 

?Jimmy Fallon using Periscope to live stream his monologue rehearsal was pretty great,? Mr. Rednor said. ?Using the platform to bring fans in and give an exclusive experience that can scale is an easy first opportunity with the new technologies.

?[Twitter should] keep pushing its TV targeting functionality, which is still superior to Facebook's, and keep investing in video,? he said. 

?The feed needs to be designed to be much more video-friendly. Insure Twitter Video and Periscope become staples of every brand's strategy.?

Taking a channel approach
?The report from Ring Digital is the latest indication that Twitter may be struggling to keep up as the social media space quickly evolves. The platform has also seen several quarters of stagnant user growth. 

For programmers, the numbers suggest they need to have a different strategy for Facebook vs. Twitter. 

While Facebook may make sense for engaging consumers to energize content in between episodes, a more strategic approach may be required for Twitter.  

Mr. Ring points to the challenges viewers have figuring out what to watch and the lack of innovation in providing solutions for this problem. 

?If I?m a programmer, I?m literally begging for Twitter to boost their ?Fabric? mobile development platform; to create specific product extensions that enable me to publish information to Twitter in a way that flows logically and beautifully through to the B2C powerhouses like Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and the rest of the Web,? Mr. Ring said.  

?It?s inviting Twitter into their ecosystem a bit more, as they?ve done with the Twitter TV ratings. It?s more of a channel approach,? he said.

Final Take?
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Marketer, New York